Why Putting Yourself First Isn’t Selfish- It’s Necessary

Woman soaking in a bubble bath with rose petals, reading a book. Putting yourself first

You’re probably familiar with the saying “put yourself first“, but have you ever given it any thought as to what it really means?

Many people just assume it to be a completely selfish attitude and behavior, without realizing how important it is within their own lives. But I am here to tell you that putting yourself first isn’t selfish- it’s absolutely necessary.

It means taking the time to recharge and prioritize your own needs, wants, and desires. It’s about understanding you’re worth, and that putting yourself first will put you in a better position to help others around you.

In this article, I will show you how important it is to put yourself first and five actionable tips to help you get started and live a much happier and peaceful life.

What Does It Mean To Put Yourself First?

Woman sitting on a kitchen countertop smiling eating a snack-

In today’s busy world, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in your day-to-day responsibilities and put yourself on the back burner. From work responsibilities to commitments to family and friends, things can get pretty chaotic.

Especially if you’re too busy rushing to the next task on your list or if you’re used to saying yes to everyone and everything.

However, constantly saying yes to everything, and neglecting your own needs, wants, and desires, can quickly lead to unhappiness, frustration, and even worse, complete burnout.

Trust me, I’ve been there and it sucks.

When you put yourself first, you’re taking a step back and recognizing that your needs matter too. This doesn’t mean being selfish or disregarding the needs of others – it’s about understanding that in order to be your best self, you must take care of yourself first.

Just like on an airplane, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. It’s the same in daily life – if you are not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to fully be there for others.

Benefits of Putting Yourself First

woman smiling with her eyes closed, enjoying nature.

Practicing to put yourself first is essential for your overall well-being and happiness. Prioritizing your needs and desires allows you to find happiness in life and establish healthy boundaries in your relationships. By valuing and recognizing your own worth, you can cultivate a positive mindset and lead a more fulfilling life.

When you put yourself first, you become better equipped to support others effectively. Taking care of your physical and mental health gives you the energy and emotional capacity to be there for others when they need you.

By making yourself a priority, you send a powerful message to yourself and those around you that you matter. Understanding your value helps you establish and maintain healthy relationships, as you are more likely to attract people who respect and appreciate you. It also allows you to set personal boundaries and say no when necessary, without feeling guilty.

Putting yourself first doesn’t mean being selfish or neglecting your responsibilities. It means consciously choosing to invest your time and energy into activities and relationships that bring you joy and fulfill your needs.

5 Actionable Tips to Put Yourself First Today

Woman, sitting meditating with her hand on her heart

Learning to put yourself first can seem impossible, but it’s actually pretty easy with the right intentions, a little planning, and effort. Here are five tips you can start doing to put yourself first and live happier today!

1. Assess Your Priorities

To start putting yourself first, it’s crucial to assess your priorities and determine which commitments are essential and which can be delegated or eliminated.

Take the time to evaluate your obligations and responsibilities, both personal and professional. To do that, consider the following steps:

  1. Make a detailed list: Write down all your current commitments and tasks, including work projects, household responsibilities, and social obligations.
  2. Evaluate their importance: Assess the significance and impact of each item on your list. Are there any tasks that can be postponed or delegated without any major consequences? Identify those that align most closely with your goals and values.
  3. Prioritize strategically: Once you have identified your most critical commitments, create a prioritization system. Assign a level of importance or urgency to each task, and focus your time and energy accordingly.
  4. Delegate or eliminate non-essential tasks: Identify tasks that can be delegated to others or eliminated altogether. Learn to let go of tasks that don’t contribute significantly to your well-being or align with your priorities.

2. Set Boundaries

Setting clear and healthy boundaries is a crucial aspect of putting yourself first. In our busy lives, it is all too easy to prioritize the needs of others and let our own well-being slide.

However, by setting boundaries, we can prevent others from encroaching on our time and ensure that our needs are met. Not to mention, you also learn to value and protect your time, energy, and most importantly, your mental well-being.

Setting boundaries involves identifying and communicating our personal limits to others. It means saying no when necessary and setting aside dedicated time for ourselves. Alone time is especially important, as it allows us to recharge, reflect, and prioritize self-care.

Here are a few ways you can start setting boundaries for yourself:

  1. Reflect on your limits: It’s important to understand your limits and recognize situations or activities that drain your energy or compromise your well-being.
  2. Communicate assertively: Once you’ve identified what drains you, it’s important that you learn to say “no” respectfully but firmly, without feeling guilty or needing to justify your decision. Practice clear and direct communication when setting your boundaries.
  3. Learn to delegate: Delegate tasks and responsibilities to others, whether at work or home. Recognize that you don’t have to do everything by yourself, and seeking support is not a sign of weakness.
  4. Protect your personal time: Dedicate specific blocks of time solely for yourself and your well-being. Communicate your need for personal time to your loved ones, colleagues, or friends, and kindly request their understanding and respect.

Remember that prioritizing yourself isn’t selfish, but instead helps you become the best version of yourself for others.

3. Creating “Me Time”

woman doing selfceare activities, putting herself first

Carving out dedicated time for self-care is vital for rejuvenation and maintaining overall well-being.

To create this space for yourself, it’s important to prioritize and schedule “me time” in your daily life.

This could involve blocking off a specific time each day or week for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. It can be as simple as taking a long bath, reading a book, making delicious healthy meals, or engaging in a hobby that you love.

Whatever it is, make sure it’s an activity that helps you recharge and disconnect from the pressures of daily life.

Here are some actionable steps to prioritize “me time”:

  1. Identify self-care activities: Explore various self-care practices that resonate with you, such as exercise, meditation, journaling, taking soothing baths, pursuing hobbies, or spending time in nature. I personally love working out, journaling, and going for long nature walks. Whatever the activity is, find one that will help you relax, recharge, and bring you joy.
  2. Schedule self-care time: Block out specific time slots in your schedule exclusively for self-care activities. Treat these moments as non-negotiable, just as you would with any other important commitment.
  3. Create a self-care routine: Establish a routine that incorporates regular self-care practices. Consistency is key to reaping the long-term benefits of self-care. Try out different activities and see which ones work best for you.
  4. Be fully present (mindfulness): When engaging in self-care activities, focus on the present moment and allow yourself to fully enjoy the experience. Let go of distractions and embrace the opportunity to nurture yourself.

4. Seek Support

In our busy lives, we often find ourselves juggling multiple responsibilities and trying to do it all on our own. We might hesitate to ask for help, fearing that we will be seen as weak or incapable.

However, seeking support is not a sign of weakness; rather, it is a way to strengthen relationships and receive the necessary help we need to face various challenges.

This took a while for me to understand, but no one can do it all on their own, and that is perfectly okay. Asking for help is a natural part of being human.

When we reach out to others, whether it be our friends, family, or professionals, we create an opportunity for connection and growth.

Here’s how you can build a network of support:

  1. Reach out to loved ones: Share your feelings and challenges with trusted friends or family members. They can provide emotional support, lend a listening ear, and offer valuable insights.
  2. Join communities: Look for communities or groups of like-minded individuals who share your interests, values, or goals. Engaging with these communities can provide a sense of belonging, support, and inspiration.
  3. Consider professional support: If needed, seek professional help from therapists, life coaches, or counsellors. They can offer guidance, tools, and strategies tailored to your specific needs.
  4. Create accountability partnerships: Find an accountability partner who shares similar goals and values. By regularly checking in with each other, you can motivate and support each other on your self-care journeys.
personal tip

If you struggle to talk to family and friends, I highly recommend going to therapy as that was. a big help for me in the past. However, if therapy isn’t an option for you, consider joining an online community and then making an accountability group. Being a part of an online community and accountability group has helped me push forward in so many areas of my life!

5. Embrace Self-Compassion

Embracing self-compassion is a vital aspect of putting yourself first and nurturing your mental health and emotional well-being.

In our fast-paced and demanding lives, it is crucial to prioritize ourselves and tend to our own needs. This starts with being kind and gentle towards ourselves, especially when facing challenging circumstances or past mistakes.

Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with the same understanding and empathy that we would extend to a dear friend. By offering ourselves forgiveness and self-acceptance, we can cultivate a healthier mindset and create stronger, more fulfilling relationships.

When we acknowledge our imperfections and let go of self-judgment, we become more open and authentic in our interactions with others.

Here’s how you can cultivate a self-compassion and a positive mindset:

  1. Challenge self-critical thoughts: Notice negative self-talk and challenge it with positive and realistic affirmations. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, just as you would a close friend.
  2. Celebrate small wins: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. By recognizing your progress, you boost your self-esteem and motivate yourself to keep prioritizing self-care.
  3. Practice mindfulness: Engage in mindfulness techniques like meditation or deep breathing exercises to stay grounded in the present moment. Mindfulness helps you become aware of your thoughts and emotions without judgment.
  4. Practice self-acceptance: Embrace your flaws and imperfections, recognizing that they are a part of what makes you unique. Cultivate self-acceptance, learn to embrace yourself fully and practice self-love.

Final Thoughts

Making yourself a priority can take time to get used to, especially if you’re used to putting others first – but it’s an essential part of living a balanced and fulfilling life.

Create boundaries that allow you to focus on yourself and your needs, while also being respectful of the needs of others. It gives you more energy to spend time on all the things that you truly value, allowing you to feel happier and experience a life of true happiness.

I encourage you to reflect on areas where you may need more TLC. Consider how you can put yourself first and the positive impact it can have on your life.

Remember, putting yourself first is not a luxury but a necessity. Embrace the power of self-love, setting healthy boundaries, and making yourself a priority.

You deserve it.

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