Life is an amazing journey to nowhere. Valuing yourself means a lot more than just indulging in whims. It means saying no, meaning it, and actually dealing with the consequences. Other times, it means saying yes — even when you’re scared. Unsure about what you’re getting yourself into. Putting yourself first should feel hard. I think sometimes people misunderstand what it means to “put yourself first.” It doesn’t mean doing what you want to do all the time. It doesn’t mean ignoring the needs of others. It’s all a matter of priorities and understanding the interplay between taking care of yourself and others. I have four main priorities in my life: family, community, health, and work. Two of these are self directed: my health and my work. Two equally important priorities, my family and my community, are more altruistic.
The sacrifice of your own happiness creates a negative feedback loop whereby you keep trying to achieve happiness, but at the expense of making other people happy and content. Meanwhile, you lose control of your own wants and needs, and can’t achieve the happiness you ultimately desire. In other words, this kind of dynamic is pretty similar to the whole, “you can’t love someone else until you love yourself” scenario. See, the phrase “everything in moderation” doesn’t just apply to food. The amount of time and energy you spend trying to please others should be kept in moderation, too. Think of it this way: If you never consider anyone else’s emotions but yours, then you risk hurting the feelings of someone you care about. But if you only think about everyone else and never take your own well-being into consideration, you sacrifice your own happiness.
Before committing to anything — more responsibility at the office, extracurricular activities, even plans with friends — it’s important that you first and foremost take a step back and really consider your own well-being. How are you feeling physically? How about mentally? Are you exhausted from the to-dos already getting checked off your daily list? When was the last time you went to bed at a reasonable hour, or watched your favorite TV show? Try not to think about declining an offer as saying “no” to someone else; instead, reframe your mindset to realize you’re actually saying “yes” to yourself.
Make time for yourself to do what fuels your soul. This means scheduling ‘me’ time for yourself in your planner doing the things that energizes and makes you happy. This is how you fill up your own love tank. Like a car, how can you expect yourself to keep going and giving if you are running on an empty tank? So do something for yourself today. Just remember it’s not selfish to spend time on yourself. Find something that makes you happy, and in the words of Nike, just do it.
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