Say it loud. “I will make time for ME.” At one point, we experienced moments where we wished we can have multiple copies of ourselves to bear several responsibilities at the same time. One to focus on being a great parent, another to focus on being an exceptional partner, and others to focus on being a present friend and a loving child. But have you noticed? The best is always catered for others. When was the last time you did something for yourself? When was the last time you enjoyed some quality time for your benefit? You can’t think of any? Maybe, this time around, it’s time for you to put yourself first.
Why Do I Need To?
Choosing yourself first is a difficult decision. Have you ever experienced moments where you willingly buy expensive gifts for a loved one but when it comes to you, you need to think about it for several days? It’s a tough yet necessary decision to make. If you find that the decisions you are making to put yourself first are easy, then you are probably doing it wrong. Ponder on it just a tad more.
Why do we even need to prioritize ourselves when there are a million other things to prioritize, right? This is because prioritizing the self is a basic form of self-care. When you genuinely care about yourself you do intentional and deliberate actions that are healthy for the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of your life. It is in the same way that you want to care for your children. There are several negative things that you do not want them to experience so you want them to be cautious of their actions and decisions. It may easily slip from one’s mind but extend the same amount of care to yourself.
And as you continue to give greater importance to yourself, you will find that your relationship with others will also change for the better. Donning adequate self-care encourages healthy relationships. It gives you enough time to know yourself more and, in turn, you are able to show a more true and candid version of yourself to others. It’s easier to become a better partner, parent, and friend when you know who you truly are from the ground up, right?
Putting yourself first brings happiness and a positive outlook. Not only do you exude positivity and contentment from choosing to put yourself first, but you also transmit the feel-good effects of the decision to others.
Make Time for Me – So When Do I Start?
When to start prioritizing yourself shouldn’t really be a question. However, with overwhelming demands, the feeling of being pulled from different directions, we often put ourselves last. In the middle of all the chaos, when do we truly start to be in the front lines of our lives?
Do we start to choose ourselves when we’re already at rock bottom? Or do we start choosing ourselves when we’re halfway through, barely keeping afloat? Think about it because, at the end of the day, we’re the ones who will make the decision. However, there are telltale signs and indications of when you should start prioritizing yourself.
When you constantly say “Yes”
Always saying yes to a friend’s invitation for a hangout, or to someone’s favor is a sign that you should definitely put yourself first. A question might pop into your head right now, asking what is so wrong with going to a party or a hangout or a get-together. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But, when you consistently say yes completely ignoring other responsibilities, then that is where we draw the line. Always saying yes lets your friends or other people think that you are always available and you can be at their disposal. Where in fact, you are not. You are more than your friends or family’s beck and call. When you find yourself always saying yes, take a breather and evaluate. Do I need to go to yet another gathering? Don’t I have other priorities to do? If you do, turn down the invite.
Turning down the invite will do no harm. Granted, there is a possibility that you will lose some friends or acquaintances along the way, but isn’t that for the better? You coincidentally weed out the people in your life who will not be present for the long haul.
When you start getting burnt out
Burnout results from long-standing stress, may it be physical, emotional, or mental. It begins when you easily become overwhelmed and taxed by your usual workload or responsibilities. You can also get burnt out when you prioritize other things over caring for yourself all the time, which is related to saying yes all the time. When you start getting overwhelmed over the usual things you do every day, take a step back. Evaluate why you are reacting differently to your usual load. Take time to determine Starting to prioritize yourself when you are already burnt out is a bit too late but there’s no use crying over spilled milk now. What you can do is pick yourself up and work on getting better. Getting burnt out is not an easy situation to handle.
If getting burnt out is not a telltale sign for you to prioritize yourself, then I don’t know what will.
When your boundaries get blurred
Boundaries are great indicators of healthy relationships. Having boundaries means that there is respect for one’s personal space and growth. But if these boundaries get blurred, what then?
Prioritizing yourself is not a back up plan. It is not something you choose to do because there are nothing else to put first. Even if you have a partner, children, or other high priority responsibilities, don’t forget that caring for yourself is also a top-bill priority.
Keep in mind that taking time to choose our selves does not mean foregoing any existing responsibilities. You just can’t leave your role as a parent and let your kids fend for yourself as you choose you. They are still a part of your priorities. On another hand, you can’t just leave your post in an office without receiving backlash. Your job is a big responsibility where if someone fails to deliver, other people will bear its consequences. Choosing yourself first is not an easy way out, not an escape route. Rather, it is a difficult yet fulfilling process.
Make Time for Me – How Do I Choose Myself?
We went over the whys and the whens, now we go to the hows. Truly, how does one start to put themselves first? You can choose to put yourself first by committing to simple and complex decisions. Let’s go through the list below:
1. Dedicate Time for Yourself Everyday
Let’s start simple. Within the 24 hours in a day, dedicate some time for yourself to not worry about anything else. A mere 10 or 15 minutes is enough. You can do this as soon as you wake up, after lunch, or right before bedtime. Dedicating some time for yourself does not necessarily mean that you will not do anything. You can use this moment to do activities that will heighten your mood and lessen your stress, such as journaling or meditating. Take advantage of this time to balance yourself. Weigh if the current course of your life is according to your liking or are your choices heavily dependent on how others perceive you.
2. Evaluate Your Priorities
Get a pen and a pad and list down your priorities. These must be the priorities that are for personal betterment, such as learning how to bake or completing your reading list. When you jot down this list, let go of the priorities that are beneficial for other people only. At this time, think about your personal goals, may it be weekly, monthly, or annually. Also, when writing down, answer the question, “What do I need?” rather than “What can I do for others?” Take a more personal, albeit selfish approach. Being selfish for the sake of your personal growth isn’t bad at all. Also, a good thing about creating an actual list is that the act of listing makes your goals concrete and doable. You can even lay out a time frame beside it to ensure its completion at the desired date.
3. Take on a Positive Approach
There are times when life seems so dim and hopeless, but don’t let the negativity take over your life. Be the captain of your ship and hold on to that wheel. At all times, try to take on the positive approach. No, I am not telling you to wear rose-colored specs or to practice false positivity. What I’m telling you is that there is nothing wrong with practicing a positive outlook and be hopeful about all the tomorrows to come.
Taking on a positive mindset also helps you cope with negative circumstances mentally. Even when awful things happen to you within a day, sit on it and reflect if there were two or three things that happened that made you smile. Seeing a cute puppy during a hike or experiencing good weather are some easy examples. This might be a difficult process for some, but it sure is worth the try.
4. Learn to Say NO
Last but not the least, learn to say NO. With the difficulty that comes with saying no as adults, it should have been taught since elementary school. Learning to say no is a needed skill when it comes to prioritizing the self. It’s not easy to say no to gatherings when you need to do something for yourself. A simple excuse of, “Ah, I can do this thing for myself after meeting with them. It’s not a big deal.” And that is where we usually get it wrong. It is a big deal. Placing ourselves behind our friends may mean that we give them more importance than our wellbeing. Learning how to say no is an arduous experience.
Sure, you will miss out on a lot of things, miss out on memories. But what you gain bears so much more than memories that can be created again and again. What you’ll have when you prioritize yourself is contentment, confidence, and peace within. All of which are irreplaceable.
It’s so easy for us to put ourselves in the backseat while we let other people take over our priorities and our lives. It comes as easy as breathing because we think that it is our way of showing our love. But in this process, we take for granted ourselves. Thus, caring for others must come hand in hand with caring for ourselves. Prioritizing ourselves does not mean letting go of all other responsibilities, rather it is a brave attempt to evening out our plate of responsibilities and leaving a bigger portion for us. Starting to put ourselves first can be a difficult process, let’s learn how to do it one step at a time.