Putting yourself first is often seen as selfish or self-absorbed and it is definitely I fear of mine. I’ve always been very independent, even from a very young age. Most of the time I had to look after myself and this fierce independence has had both a positive and negative effect on my life.
I’m definitely not afraid to just tell things how they are, if you’re looking for someone to agree with everything you say or tell you white lies to please you, I’m not your girl.
I’ve never found that approach to be helpful or beneficial to either myself or the people around me. Yes, it means I have a very select group of friends and my romantic relationships are pretty non-existent (there are lots of other reasons for that, but I won’t go into them!) but the people I have surrounded myself with know what to expect from me now and that’s all that matters.
To make others happy, you need to make yourself happy
Have you ever been in a terrible mood and started snapping at people, or just not been as nice as you could’ve been? By not taking care of your own happiness, you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to make others happy.
Think about when you feel sad or angry, during those times you will usually be wallowing in self-pity, consumed by your own emotions and whatever thoughts are floating around your brain. You don’t have the energy to put other’s first because you’re so drained trying to deal with your own problems.
It took me a long time to realise that one of the main reasons I found it so hard to make and keep relationships, was because I was so unhappy with myself, not just because of depression, but because of having no self-compassion or confidence.
Putting yourself first doesn’t have to be selfish
Having compassion for yourself is equally as important for having compassion for others. Living your life to make other people happy, as I found out the hard way, can never give you a healthy and happy life.
You are with you for life, nobody else is. Yes we may get married and have a family to surround us, but at the end of the day, it’s just you and the little voice in your head, so make peace with it.
How many times have you been too afraid to agree with a compliment or say something good about yourself, worried that people may see you as self-absorbed or big headed?
Finding comfort in your own happiness isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but once you’ve started on that road, you’ll start to see that it becomes easier to appreciate the things you love about yourself. It becomes easier to block out negative thoughts and even negative comments and actions of others.
Still a long way to go
I remember being 16 and people telling me that as I grew older I would start to care less and less about what people think of me. It turns out they were right.
I don’t think it’s a biological thing, I don’t think when I turned 26 I suddenly had some sort of epiphany that led me to not care as much, but with every year I start to realise that other people’s opinions of me don’t hold as much weight anymore. Putting myself first has meant that I’ve had more experiences, I’ve done what made me happy and I feel like I’m living life to the fullest. If I had done what other people had wanted me to do, I would never have moved away from university, I would never have made the life-long friends that I have now, I would have never moved into Manchester (a city that I adore!) and I wouldn’t be doing this amazing, once in a lifetime trek along the Great Wall of China next year!
I know how to act, how to be a good human being. I may be outspoken, a bit blunt at times and nothing but honest, but I know how to treat people. I know what to say when someone’s upset, or when to walk away when someone isn’t treating me well. That’s all that really matters to me. As long as I’m not hurting anyone physically or emotionally, I’ll pretty much do anything for anyone and that’s what gives me confidence. The ability to trust myself to make the right decisions. Now I’ve found that trust, it starts to become easier to be confident, to take risks when needed and to let go of the little things.
Of course, I’m not a ‘perfect life’ guru, I don’t have everything figured out and I still have a very long way to go to truly love myself, but I’m on the right path!