How I Prioritize Myself Without Feeling Selfish
“I am worthy of the best things in life, and I now lovingly allow myself to accept it.” ~Louise Hay
Self-Care is probably one of the hardest lessons I had to learn in my life. I've always tried to be there for those close to me and do my best to make everyone happy. But the truth is I can't make everyone happy, no matter how hard I've tried over the years. It's important to learn to do what's right for you, without feeling guilty that someone didn't like what you said or did.
To Be a People Pleaser Means You Tolerate Too Much Guilt
There is a huge myth in our culture — the idea that putting yourself first is selfish.
It's normal to want to prioritize the desires, needs, and interests of other. It's okay to want to make those we love happy; we want to make them feel heard and understood.
But loving others doesn't mean that you can't love yourself, too. In fact, perhaps we should all try to cultivate more love for ourselves than we do for others.
Let me be brutally honest today: I often used to put other people’s needs above my own not because I genuinely wanted to help others. In many cases, I did it because I wanted people to like me. I wanted to be seen as someone who is irreplaceable and strong. I wanted to feel important, valuable, and needed.
This came along with a very strong need for control things, as I thought that would mean I’d always be included in my group of friends, safe and never abandoned. According to Maslow’s pyramid of human needs, we all have a basic need to feel a sense of belonging to a group or community. However, if the cost is living behind a mask and having a hidden agenda, our relationships can become inauthentic, unhealthy, and even toxic.
Looking back on my past, I realize that I often used others as an instrument of self-validation. I spent so much of my precious time trying to please others that I didn’t have any energy to focus on myself and what I truly wanted.
I needed others to fill my void and help me avoid myself. Focusing on other people was a way for me to escape my own flaws and limitations. I used to associate this behavior with the extroverted side of my personality, but today I know that was a lie.
Once I learned to approve of myself unconditionally and treat myself as if I were my own best friend, I didn’t need others to validate me. Though I still need to be loved and appreciated, I am not needy for approval any longer. And I no longer try to control how people perceive me, as I know they’ll always see me filtered through their own lenses.
Learning to love and care for myself over the years also meant I had to learn how to say no to things I didn’t really want to do, without feeling selfish, guilty, or overly worried that I might hurt or upset someone else.
Saying no doesn’t mean I dislike or reject the other person. I've learned that I can’t disappoint anyone. People disappoint themselves with the expectations they set for whom they want me to be and what they expect me to do. It’s always about them, and it has zero to do with me. If they truly love me, they would understand.
Once I began to take care of myself—body, mind, and soul—I started to feel happier and more balanced, energized, and alive. Investing in my self-care was the best decision I could ever make, and a life changing one.