Self love and self care has become a huge ‘trend’ in recent years. Possibly due to a significant decline in our mental health, people are beginning to realize and spread the importance of taking some time out to recharge and de-stress.
Sometimes it’s easier said than done though; when you have a partner, friends, children or anyone that relies on you, it can be difficult to switch off and put yourself first. That may be because it’s difficult to find the time, but more often than not it’s due to feelings of guilt around prioritizing yourself. I’m here to say screw that notion – this is why you shouldn’t feel guilty for putting yourself first!
Disclaimer: this isn’t about neglecting your loved ones, because every healthy relationship requires time and effort – but more about showing you it’s okay to take some time for yourself whenever you need!
You’re not selfish for putting yourself first
Contrary to popular belief, selfishness is not simply putting your own needs before another person’s. By definition, being selfish is “lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”
In other words, to be selfish is to throw somebody else under the bus in order to get what you want. In my opinion, in order to be truly selfish you have to be a little bit of a psychopath. How often do you completely disregard another person’s feelings for your own profit or pleasure? Chances are, you’re often taking consideration of other’s feelings, particularly if they are people you care about.
So no, taking care of yourself is not being selfish. It does not make you a selfish person to prioritize yourself every once in a while!
You’re no less of a friend if you put yourself first
This hits a little close to home as I recently lost some friends as a direct result of putting myself first. In my case, a friend was going through a difficult time and needed some support. While I thought I was there for this person, according to them this wasn’t enough.
Unfortunately, I suffer from my own mental health difficulties, which means that I can’t always drop everything for someone else who is in need. I wish I could, but it would just completely deplete me. So we drifted apart.
I initially blamed myself a lot for this and took full responsibility for the friendship ending, before coming to the conclusion that this was not my fault!
I just wasn’t able to give this person what they needed in their life at that moment in time, but that doesn’t make me a bad person or mean that I simply don’t care. To me, a true friendship doesn’t mean that you have to be in contact all the time. It is more about the connection you have when you do speak or see each other.
So quite often, if a friendship ends due to you putting yourself first, this is probably not the real reason it’s ended at all. Maybe you’re just not well suited for each other’s lives any more, and that’s okay.
The same rule applies to other relationships – whether you’re a parent, partner or lover, the amount of time you spend with another person does not directly correlate with how valid that relationship is. Obviously I’m not advocating complete neglect here, but 24/7 attention doesn’t necessarily equate to a positive relationship. Quality over quantity, right? Which brings me on to my next point…
You can give more to others if you give more to yourself
In fact, you may even be a better friend/parent/partner if you put yourself first every once in a while.
Being an empath means that I often find myself feeling drained after being in the company of others. So time alone focusing on myself is so important. If I don’t do this, I feel overwhelmed and withdraw from people completely. And trust me when I say I am not good company when this happens.
There’s a saying that goes something like “how can you love another if you can’t love yourself?” and while I think that this can be harmful if misinterpreted by those with low self-esteem, I think there is a strong take home message for all of us. Because if we don’t spend time nurturing and caring for ourselves, how can we possibly have the energy to nurture and care for others?
You know the safety demonstration on an aeroplane, where the flight attendant tells you to always put on your oxygen mask before attempting to put on somebody else’s? It’s exactly like that. Because if you neglect yourself while trying to save others, you will suffocate.
You are No.1
I can give you all the reasons in the world as to why you shouldn’t feel guilty for putting yourself first. But ultimately, it comes down to the fact that you are No.1 in your own life. You are the only person that is truly there every minute of every day. So why not treat yourself like you would a loved one?
You don’t need a reason or excuse for putting yourself first. It’s your life, and you are the one that is going to suffer the negative effects if you don’t give yourself a break.
So next time you’re feeling guilty for putting yourself first, remind yourself of this!
Tell me if you have ever experienced guilt about prioritizing yourself. Has anybody else ever made you feel guilty for putting yourself first? Has this post helped you to change your thoughts around practicing self care? Let me know in the comments.
Take care of yourselves