Why is it that so many of us put ourselves second? Why is it that we often sacrifice what is good for us to make someone else happy, and why is it such a difficult transition to start putting ourselves first? I see this issue not only every day in my office but also at times in my own life. Of course, there are those people who no matter what, without any regard for the other, place themselves first; but that is someone who is arrogant. We are not discussing arrogance here. We are simple discussing how to make a healthy transition into learning to put ourselves first. It is the difference between being self-centered and centered-on-self. If we are self-centered we are putting ourselves first with a sense of entitlement. If we are centered-on-self we are putting ourselves first in the name of self-love and self-respect.
I believe that people who are always putting others before themselves suffer from feeling not good enough, and they tend to have fears of conflict. From my experience this seems to encapsulate the majority of really nice people. The problem is that these really nice people begin to lose their self-esteem the more they allow themselves to be the slaves to the needs of others. So let us get a few things straight. To follow are 5 simple steps to becoming a stronger more defined person.
First. We are only responsible for our own feelings of happiness. We are not responsible for the happiness of other people (even though they may make us think we are.) The first thing to learn is to be true to ourselves. How do we do this? We listen to our first gut response. For example, we are having a tired night and really want to stay in, cuddle up on our couch and watch a movie. However, a friend really wants to go out and we are the only one who can come with her. Now we have conflict. If we are operating in Self-love and in Self-care we will be able to say no to our friend and stay home and rest. Many of us say yes in these situations because we feel an internal guilt if we are not rushing to put on our “need-meeter cape” to fly off to please the needs of our friend. God forbid we say no and ruin the needs to someone else.
Why is it that we feel so guilty when we have that desire to take care of ourselves? Because we have learned to be people-pleasers which is incredibly hazardous to our health. Feeling like we have to please others to maintain peace in our own lives creates undue pressure and stress that is poisonous to our lives. Each time we act against our own internal desire we cut off a slice of self-love and self-respect and literally give it away for free to someone else. This is emotional slavery.
There is nothing wrong or harmful about saying no when we need to say no. What we have to do is battle the fears that there is something wrong with it. Fear is what generates a people-pleasing habit. So here is some advice, if we put ourselves first and the other person has a negative response to us taking the best care of ourselves then maybe this person is not the best person to keep company with. Maybe there is actually something wrong inside them rather than something flawed and defective within us because we want to follow our natural desires. The true loves in our lives will encourage us to take care of ourselves and our needs.