Being nice to other people is great, but you can’t please everyone. Being willing and able to give a helping hand to others is a fantastic personal quality, but don’t delude yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, nobody will. It should always be your first and foremost responsibility. Make yourself a priority. Believe me, it’s not selfishness – it’s a necessity!
In this short article I will outline four key reasons why you ALWAYS have to put yourself first, and what particular steps should be taken to do so.
I’ve been working with people for 16 years. Unfortunately, I’ve heard too many sad personal stories from burned-out and deeply depressed altruistic, kind and open people who helped others too much without even the slightest appreciation. I’ve heard even more stories about broken relationships when one partner always put other partner’s feelings over his/her own. Every story is unique, but all of them have one thing in common: when you neglect your own feelings and interests, people start taking you for granted.
There is a simple explanation for that phenomenon. First of all, neglecting your own feelings, you assume the position of ‘less valuable person’. People detect this vibe and start neglecting your interests and feelings too. In essence, people always treat you as you treat yourself. Note that what’s important is what you feel but not what you think about yourself. There is a huge difference between these two dimensions of self-awareness; you can encourage yourself with uplifting thoughts, such as: “I deserve the best”, “I’m clever and attractive”, or “People respect me as a professional” – but ultimately this is just noise. What you really feel is what really matters.
Neglecting your own feelings, you assume the position of ‘less valuable person’. People detect this vibe and start neglecting your interests and feelings too.
What should you do to change the pattern? A good therapist or high performance coach could be helpful. Here are no short cuts, I’m afraid. However,
the solution of every problem starts from a conscious acknowledgement of why you have to do certain things.
So, here’s why you should always put your own feelings first:
- It’s important for your health
It’s simple: if you neglect your feelings you become stressed. You may be a “people person” and really enjoy helping others, but stress and burnout will ensue if you are always relegating your feelings and interests to the back of the queue. As a result your stress hormones will increase, your body will stop functioning properly and you’ll get sick. You might feel tired, fatigued, demotivated and even develop a serious condition such as hormonal imbalances, digestion problems, weight gain, sleep deprivation, depression, and so on.
- It’s important for your relationships
When you always elevate your partner’s feelings and interests over your own, and give more than get back, you will not only start appreciating him or her less but also be constantly exhausted, drained or, conversely, overwhelmed and have a sense of being unfairly treated. Those bitter feelings could utterly destroy your relationship.
So, take time for yourself if you need it. Rest well, and come back to your loved one fresh and happy. If you are permanently overworked and have no energy to spend quality time with your partner, then explain your situation, skip a date or two, recharge yourself, and ask your partner for help.
If you get a lot of superficial and useless advice instead of solid actions I reckon it’s time to accept the fact that the person you are with is not your real ‘partner in crime’. Remember, partners take responsibilities and should not only share the good times with you, but also the hard work and tough periods in your life.
Here I’d like to add a few words about gender-related differences: Even though modern society actively supports the idea of equality of the sexes, we are not the same. Our bodies and hormones are different and as a result our contributions to a relationship are not the same either.
This is a broad and complex topic which I intend to tackle in a future article.
- It’s important for your career and self-realisation
Logically, if you’re stressed and tired and feel useless and demotivated, you can’t be productive and creative in your daily job. Constantly trying to please your co-workers and business partners is a certain route to self-destruction. Put your own needs first.
Interact and collaborate by all means, but don’t allow work to be piled on your shoulders just because you are “that nice guy”.
You can – and must – limit your tasks. You also have the right to rest and holidays. Don’t forget about these simple things, as overwork reduces your productivity and could affect the overall team’s results. Putting your feelings and health first is not selfish it’s highly beneficial for the whole team.
- It’s important for this World
Spiritually speaking, all of us are responsible for those energies we transmit to the World. When we are on our best form we contribute more to society. On the other hand,
by transmitting misery, apathy, anger or a sense of victimhood, we multiply those low feelings poisoning the space around us.
It’s important to assume responsibility for our shared wellness, and always take care of yourself and protect your interests. The more balanced and happy people there are around, the happier and more harmonious our lives will be.