Me First Is Not Selfish Thinking by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

One of the many distortions in thinking in today’s society is that being a “good” person means thinking about everyone else and their needs while putting your own needs on the back burner. This type of thinking is not only wrong, it is potentially dangerous from a health and well-being perspective.

Learning early in life that loving or caring for someone or something, such as a career, means sacrificing your own happiness is a message that is hard to unlearn. The reality is in giving everything to someone or something else, we leave ourselves emotionally and physically drained and empty.

The Burnout Issue 

Burnout is common throughout our society. Burnout is a symptom of putting others first. It occurs when people do not have healthy boundaries or they feel they cannot say “no” to requests, expectations, or demands that take up more and more of their physical, emotional, and emotional energy.

Over time, and without having a way to regenerate our physical and mental energy, we begin to experience the symptoms of burnout. These symptoms can include physical exhaustion, loss of motivation, feeling helpless, depression, loss of enjoyment of life, and even physical health issues.

One way to avoid burnout is to learn to prioritize your own needs. This does not mean you love or care for anyone else less, but it means you also love and take care of yourself.

Think of the example of getting on a plane. The instructions in the event of a loss of cabin pressure tell you to put your oxygen mask on first, so you can help those around you. Putting your own self-care first is the same process, staying mentally and physically healthy so you can keep helping and caring for those around you.

Being Your Best Self

Your loved ones, friends, and family members all want to interact with the best version of you. They do not want to deal with someone who is tired, disinterested, irritated, or depressed.

In taking time to rest, do things you enjoy, and find time to be kind to yourself, you are your best in other interactions. Learning to say “no” to taking on more tasks is not always easy, but it is vital to the relationship. People who love you and care about your well-being will respect your “no” and understand you need time for yourself and the things that bring you pleasure in life.

Putting me first is a change in thinking for most people. It is not selfish or demanding. It is the only way to ensure you are fully present to have the best relationship possible.