Contrary to popular belief, putting yourself first is not selfish. The relationship that you have with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have in life. While friends may come and go, you are with you forever.
No matter what type of family you were born into, it doesn't take much to sow the seeds of doubt and suffer from self-esteem issues. Even people with the most loving of parents and financially stable homes experience bouts of insecurity. When you were young, you no doubt, looked up to your parents as though they were infallible. They didn't just house, feed, and clothe you, they loved you and lauded every achievement.
This often creates a natural feeling of inferiority. If you were lucky, you had parents or caregivers that helped you work through those types of feelings so that you came out the other side confident in friendships, relationships, and in your career and personal life. Not everyone is so lucky, and in all honesty, even parents who intend well can add to feelings of inferiority. Often, the messages we are sent are confusing to us at the time and don't soothe us in the way that parents intend them to.
How we are raised has a lot to do with who we become as adults, our younger years help form our personalities, likes, dislikes, and fuel our confidence (or lack thereof). All of that fuels how you see yourself.
If you were failed in your youth there's a good chance you will harbor those feelings of inferiority, whether they are based in truth or not. For others, though, they may go in the opposite direction building an air of superiority as a means of protection against hurt. The end result is always the same – a feeling of being different, lonely, and struggling to fit in with others.
Regardless of the cause or your feelings on the matter – you are wrong. You are strong, you are capable, and you are worth it. Until you learn to love yourself you will struggle to build honest and open relationships with others, whether it's a romantic one or just platonic. There is a distinct difference between self-deprecating and just downright bullying yourself.
Your life's happiness truly hinges on your relationship with you. It impacts your happiness, your success, your relationships, and just about every other facet of your life.
By learning to accept that you are important and building a safe and loving relationship with yourself you will find self-confidence, you will watch as your relationships start to improve, you will become more productive, you will understand the importance of prioritizing, you will feel happier, and you will know that self-care is everything.
In our busy-busy lives, we tend to put others and even tasks before ourselves. This results in depression, weariness, and fatigue. It drains our energy and our spirit. However, once you start choosing yourself first, a magical change takes place.
We often wrongly think of taking ourselves into consideration as selfish, but those are two different things.
Taking care of yourself and your needs is not selfish, but rather extremely necessary. In this article, I hope to inspire you to start choosing yourself every single day of your life.
The Difference Between Choosing Yourself and Being Selfish
Choosing yourself on a daily basis is not selfish, but rather closer to self-care. By choosing to put yourself first when it’s necessary, you’re making the responsible and well-thought out choice to take care of yourself in a way that is necessary to ensure your health and positive quality of life.
Being selfish, on the other hand, is putting yourself before others on a regular basis because you see yourself as being more important. Selfishness is putting your own needs, wants, and beliefs over the needs, wants, beliefs, and sometimes even basic rights of others without considering them as well. See the difference?
Why Should You Start Choosing Yourself Every Day
Now that you understand that there’s nothing selfish about taking care of yourself, let’s get into why it is that you should start choosing yourself.
The biggest reason you should do this is because you are important and if you don’t start treating yourself that way, how can you expect anyone else to?
Beyond the basic need for you to take care of yourself and your health, choosing yourself every day can improve your mental health, improve your overall satisfaction with your life, and help you to seize opportunities.
It means saying no to things you don’t want to do or don’t feel right doing and saying yes to those challenges that might scare you but are good for you.
What Does Choosing Yourself Look Like
Choosing yourself involves making the conscious effort to examine your needs and, when reasonable, making the choice to put them before the wants of others. It’s similar to the idea of the oxygen masks on airplanes: you’re supposed to secure your own mask before you help a child with theirs.
The idea behind this is that if you’re incapacitated, the child wouldn’t be able to help you as much as you could help them if the reverse were true. The same concept is at play for choosing yourself: you can’t do your best and be your best if you don’t take care of yourself.
Choosing yourself takes self-reflection coupled with a diligent and dedicated effort to change the way you think and how you treat yourself.
It’s saying no to a situation, event, or activity that makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s realizing that you’re better off staying home and recharging your battery than going out one day.
Are You Ready to Start Choosing Yourself?
Making the effort to start choosing yourself is no easy feat. You have to be ready to commit to the challenge completely or not at all. It takes time to get adjusted to a new routine like this, but once you do, you'll definitely start to see improvements in your overall happiness, physical and mental health.
It can help to reduce your stress and keep you from being overwhelmed, allowing you the time to recharge your battery instead of taking on every single task, project, or challenge that comes your way.
Make the decision to start choosing yourself every day, because if you don't, who will?
Choosing yourself is a crucial part of your health and happiness in life. Many mistake this choice/trait for selfishness. To explain this confusion: selfish people always choose themselves, but those who choose themselves aren’t always being selfish.
Choosing you simply means that you put yourself first when it’s necessary; you take your own health and feelings into consideration and, when necessary, you put those feelings and needs over the wants of others.
People who are merely selfish always put their needs and wants over the needs of others. So how can you start to choose yourself first?
1) Stop and Think Before You Just Say Yes Out of Politeness
One of the most important and significant first steps towards choosing yourself on a daily basis is putting an end to the bad habit of saying yes to everything.
While it’s good to be open to new things, taking on too much work or too many obligations can overwhelm you and harm your overall mental health.
Do this: Pause when someone asks something of you, and say you'l get back to them with an answer later, then reflect on your own needs.
Can you take on more work or another event?
Can you handle a party, or do you need to go home and recharge your batteries?
Contrary to popular beliefs, it’s okay to say no to helping someone out sometimes.
2) Treat Yourself with Kindness
Part of choosing yourself first is treating yourself well. If you don’t treat yourself kindly and with respect, how can you expect others to do it? Stop being so hard on yourself; we all make mistakes, choose poorly, and miss the mark sometimes.
Give yourself a break and forgive yourself for your errors; as long as you learn from them, it’s all a part of life. A good way to practice this is by giving yourself pep talks throughout your day.
Do this: You don’t have to do this out loud, say positive affirmations and think positive thoughts. The act of deliberately thinking positive and inspiring thoughts about yourself will help you to overcome obstacles and improve your self-esteem and confidence.
3) Speak Up for Yourself
Another big part of choosing yourself is standing up for yourself and your beliefs. You matter just as much as anyone else and so does your opinion.
Do this: Practice stating your opinions, views, wants, etc. and standing up for yourself when necessary. You’re important and you deserve to be heard.
4) Take Care of Yourself
Part of getting into the habit of choosing yourself first is choosing to take care of yourself. You’re only given one body and one life; you need to take care of it.
Do this: Eat healthy food, exercise regularly, maintain proper sleep habits, go to the doctor when necessary, and do what you need to do to minimize stress and improve your mental health. It’s hard to choose yourself in social situations if you aren’t healthy enough to be in social situations.
5) Let Go of Toxic People
Letting go of toxic people isn’t only a step towards choosing yourself, but also a crucial step in maintaining good mental health. Toxic people bring no good into our lives; they tear us down and keep us there.
One popular opinion is to let go of these people by saying goodbye, good riddance. I prefer another way...
Do This: Inner Work - which is the practice of going deep within yourself for the purposes of self-exploration, self-understanding, healing, and transformation. When you work on yourself, you growth. When you grow, those around you who are not having similar experiences will fall by the wayside and continue on their own negative journey without you.
6) Remind Yourself You’re Worth It
This step is crucial to keeping steady with your progress in choosing yourself regularly and maintaining positive mental health on that journey.
As we said before, people often have a pre-conceived (and mistaken) notion of this endeavor as being an act of selfishness. However, this effort is more in the name of self-care.
You’re choosing yourself in situations where it is necessary: when you can’t take on a larger workload, when you can’t handle more obligations, when you need to remove a toxic person from your life, etc. You’re doing this because you’re worth it.
You are your own best champion, always remember that.