Why do you not choose yourself first? This is the question I often ask my clients who tell me how they are overwhelmed, irritable, can barely get out of bed, and find housework inundating. They are constantly doing things for everyone else. They are people pleasers, and they can’t say no. They have no boundaries. Then they wonder why they are so angry and resentful of the people in their life.
After much discussion some of the things that come up, include:
- I’m being selfish if I put myself first.
- I was taught being in service was a requirement for salvation with God.
- People won’t like me if I don’t do things for them.
- People need me.
These are just a few examples as there may be many reasons why someone doesn’t put themselves first. Ultimately, the likely limiting belief is “I don’t deserve to be a priority.” When your limiting belief is around being undeserving there is an undercurrent of shame.
When you feel shame, you believe you are bad. When you feel guilty, you believe something you did was bad. Internalizing something you did as an indication of you being bad is a false belief. You are not the measurement of one, several, or many wrong steps in your life. You are human and are supposed to make many mistakes. That’s how you learn and make different choices in the future. You are not the same person now from when you were a child, a teenager, or an early adult. You had limited experience and your rational brain was not fully developed, so you made the best decisions that you could at the time. Please stop berating yourself for past mistakes. Forgive yourself and recognize the totality of the person you are today. Stop focusing on the few mistakes and look at the big picture of who you really are.
Let’s break down the four examples above:
- Putting yourself first is not being selfish. The true definition of selfish is when you force someone to do something they don’t want to do because it benefits you. For example, I force my daughter to take ballet when she wants to play baseball because I always wanted to be a ballerina.
- First, God is not a punishing God. You are already God because God is you and you are God. You are God consciousness for the fact that we are all interconnected and God is the ultimate Source of creation and energy. Second, being in service does not mean being in servitude. Your purpose on earth is not to serve others or God, it is to utilize your gifts and talents to be in service to others to support them on their journey. This doesn’t have to be monumental. It can be smiling at someone, holding open a door, or holding space when a friend is in need. The most important part of being in service is that you get to choose when, where, and for how long. Just because a person asks, doesn’t mean you have to do it immediately. You get to decide when the best time is for you. Another person’s urgency is not your urgency!
- People like you for who you are not what you do for them. If you have healthy boundaries, and choose when to do something that is good for your schedule and decide what you want to do not what you think you should do or have to do, then you will set yourself up for success. Again, people are with you because they want to be with you. They like you for who you are, what you stand for, how you treat them, and, likely, similar philosophies, values, and interests.
- I hate to tell you, but people don’t need you. This is your ego talking. You may have a hero complex or a need to fix things for other people. Stop it!!! You are not serving them. You are enabling them to stay small or a victim. You are actually taking away their own agency to do things for themselves and find their own independence and self-esteem from their own accomplishments.
So, how do you choose yourself first? You stop and decide what the right choice is for you before you do anything else for anyone. Are you tired, then don’t do it? Do you not want to do it, then don’t do it? Are you getting something out of it, like feeling you are a good Christian, then don’t do it? You should only do something for someone else because you do it freely with pure unconditional love and pure intent. It should never be done because of a need to boost your self-esteem or ego, or because you think they will do it for you in return.
Choosing yourself first means setting boundaries. It means taking time for yourself to rest and recharge. It means having time for self-reflection, so you can focus on changing behaviors that no longer serve you and decide on the areas in your life you wish to grow and transform. It means doing things you like and want to do. To spend time with the people you love, and to engage in self-love by doing self-care and pampering yourself.
I hope you take the steps to put yourself first. The people around you will thank you because you will have more to give when you fill your own cup first!
Find out more about boundaries and putting yourself in the multi-award-winning book Embodied: How to Connect to Your Body, Ignite Your Intuition, and Harness Universal Energy for Healing.