The idea of putting ourselves first is still considered to be selfish in our culture. Some of the major reasons for this attitude towards the concept of prioritizing ourselves is that some of us might not value ourselves enough to put our needs first and we might believe that the only way to get approval from other people is to do what they say. Moreover, many of us have been raised to put others first and we may have been told that prioritizing the needs of others will make us better people.
Not to mention the fact that we might have also learned very early on in our lives to give value and importance to what other people think of us. As a result, we often choose to do things we don’t want to do or don’t enjoy doing in order to avoid being judged or disliked by others.
There is no doubt that by choosing to put ourselves first we are running the risk of upsetting some people. However, it is important to acknowledge that regardless of what we decide to do there will always be people who will judge us and accuse us of not caring about their well-being. Unfortunately, we can’t change that as it’s not possible for us to manage every situation we’re in and it’s not feasible to control other people’s reactions towards us.
To many of us being defined as selfish by others is one of the worst things that they can call us. If we choose to give our needs, desires and goals priority then it is inevitable that some people won’t agree with our decisions and therefore may label us as selfish. Others may become angry with us, might talk behind our back or might stop talking to us altogether. Nevertheless, their reaction to us putting ourselves first is not necessarily due to what we have opted to do. They react this way because what we have decided to accomplish is not what they would like us to do.
Putting ourselves aside and focusing on needs of other people can lead to a very unhappy life. Life in which we get easily irritated and angry with things and people around us due to us feeling stressed, anxious, exhausted and overworked. We might also start to feel resentful due to us putting others first and we may begin to feel like everything in our life is always about others and never about our feelings, needs or what we would like in our own lives.
Making ourselves a priority and allotting ourselves time is not always easy and it takes courage and confidence. Some of us might find it difficult to concern ourselves with our own needs, interests and welfare and we might not know how to move ourselves to the top of our list of priorities. However, by allowing other people to pressure or manipulate us into doing things that will satisfy their needs we are allowing them to take over and control our life. We can regain our control by choosing to stop agreeing to perform tasks that are only beneficial to other people. If we start to say ‘no’ to things that are not important to us, we will have more time to participate in activities that we enjoy. Interests such as meditation, exercise, spending time with friends and family, reading or watching movies are important for our own well-being.
It is essential that at least a few times a week we make time for ourselves and we do that without asking others for permission. We all have the right to disregard other people in order to prioritize ourselves at times. We should not apologize for it and we should not feel guilty about making choices that benefit us as putting ourselves first will help us feel less stressed and our self-esteem will improve.
We should not look at doing activities that make us happy as an option that we have, we should see them as a requirement that will help us take care of our physical and emotional well-being. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to live our life by only doing what we want as there are some things in life we can’t avoid doing. However, it’s essential that we find a balance between family responsibilities, work commitments, our personal time and time we spend with our friends and family.
It is interesting to remember that selfish people don’t think about whether they are being selfish, so if you are questioning whether you might be being selfish, you’re probably not.