Put Yourself First

I wrote about making yourself a priority in another blog. I felt the need to reiterate this point because not only have I had to be reminded of this, but I have close friends who are going through pivotal times in their lives and need this reminder as well. What happens when we take care of everyone else around us but forget to look after ourselves? Hint. Hint. We start to become drained and frustrated. If we have families, we rush to take care of the family and put everyone else’s needs above our own. Chances are if you don’t have a family, you come through for everyone else. One of my close friends is dealing with a tough breakup at the moment. She doesn’t like to be alone and has stopped taking care of her appearance.  

Another of my closest friends saw her recently and said that she was letting herself go. She had hairs protruding from her chin; she showered but looked like she had been through the wringer and back. She keeps settling for toxic relationships. Most days, she tries hard to be happy, but that same happiness eludes her because she doesn’t know what she wants out of life. I think the most challenging thing for the rest of us that love and care about her is to watch her make the same mistakes over and over. None of us want to see her go through the problems she’s facing. Yet, her situation is not uncommon. She tries to please everyone else around her and doesn’t start pleasing herself.  

It’s easier said than done to come through for yourself and put yourself first. I think it’s human nature to take care of others before we think about our needs and wants. When we don’t take time to take care of ourselves, the downside is that we can’t begin to take care of anyone else because how we handle others reflects on ourselves. I learned this lesson the hard way.  

I’ve always put other people ahead of me. I cared so much about what others needed that I lost who I was in the process. A prime example of this is when I was married. I hated fighting with my spouse. I felt like I always had to be the adult while he did what he wanted to do. Over time, I kept caving into whatever he wanted. We’d go the places he wanted to go, do the activities he wanted to do, and for a long while, I didn’t go with him because he was out with his friends to strip clubs, car races, ROTC events, football games, and other outings. Eventually, I started getting suspicious about his activities. I began going with him because I didn’t trust what he was doing. One night he asked me what I wanted to do. The truth was that I had no clue. It had been so long that I could do what I liked that I forgot who I was and what I enjoyed. 

It’s critical to have an identity of your own when you are in a relationship with someone. It’s also crucial to understand what is essential in your life and how you appear to others. I used not to care how I looked when I walked out of the house. I’d go out in sweat pants, t-shirts, sweatshirts, my hair unkempt, and walk with my shoulders hunkered down. I felt invisible, so I treated myself as an invisible person. Unfortunately for me, people were paying attention. I lost opportunities because I had let myself go and didn’t think about how people perceived me.  

Through situations like these, I realize how much we all need to put ourselves first. So I thought it might be helpful for me to set a few reminders out there that I found from professional sources online.  

  1. Set time for yourself.  – Okay. This action doesn’t have to be an excessive amount of time. But if you can squeeze in five to ten minutes a day for you to process your day, you might find how helpful this tip can be. I’ve started learning yoga. It’s one of the things I never thought I’d do, but it’s helping me put myself first. 
  2. Speak kindly to yourself.  Why on earth would this be important? For starters, many people deal with jackasses. We might have bosses who treat us like crap, or we might have relationships that make us question what the hell we are doing in the relationship. Our kids may be acting like hellions, and we may criticize everyone around us, including ourselves. Maybe there are other scenarios you can relate to, but the bottom line is to remember that we have to talk kindly to ourselves because it might be some of the only positive reinforcement we get. Give yourself a break. Talking junk to yourself isn’t going to make you feel better. Learn to recognize your worth and remind yourself of that worth.  
  3. Stop feeling guilty. My first question to you is, why do you feel guilty for putting yourself first? If you come through for everyone else, do you not understand that your body and mind can only deal with so much before you run out of energy? Your body is like a vehicle. It has to be well maintained to keep going for long periods. If you don’t give a car regular checkups, the proper fuel, and the love needed to keep it running smoothly, it will clunker out on you. The same principle applies to our bodies. Mental and physical maintenance is a prerequisite to maintaining healthy opportunities. Don’t feel guilty for keeping yourself maintained and happy. After all, a happy and comfortable car goes the distance. Happy individuals are inclined to do the same.    
  4. Learn when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”  Many people say “no” to everything. They are the ones who need to learn to say “yes.” Some folks like to pass the buck and complain about every little thing. They don’t see they are part of the problem. What they do see is what they don’t like. If you are finding yourself falling in that category, maybe see where you can make changes. Some people have too much on their plate while others have too much time on their hands. Which type do you fall in, and why are you taking the stance you do? Only you can answer these questions and know your circumstances.  
  5. Love your body.  So what if you’ve got extra weight? Weight can be gained or lost. Weight can be temporary if you work with your doctor and keep an eye on your diet. If you don’t like where you are with your body, accept it for what you have and learn to love the skin you are residing in because your body allows you to go from point a to point b. We can always change our appearance. There are lots of things about my body I detest, but I’ve learned to love myself and my body because I wouldn’t be able to do the things I love in life without my body. We need our bodies to make things happen. It’s hard to love your body when all you see are flaws, but many people in this world are missing body parts and still love their bodies. Quit beating yourself up over not having the perfect skin or body, and appreciate the great things your body does.  
  6. Learn to ask for help.  The best example I can think of is when people take on a project and don’t read the directions. They don’t want help. They believe they can do it without any guide, and sometimes they are correct. However, there are many other times where people take on a project, don’t ask for help, or look at directions and find out that they were WRONG!!!! I’d say men are notorious for this, but many women fall in this category as well. The truth is we all need help sometimes. Learning to ask for help is not a weakness. Hell, sometimes that weakness gives way to strength we never knew we needed.  
  7. Let go of issues you can’t control.  Can you control the weather? Nope. You can control how you dress for the weather, and you can make provisions if a bad storm is coming, but you can’t control everything in life. I used the weather as an example, but you can’t control other people and their reactions. You also can not control what people think. Every person on this earth is a leader. How so? Each person controls their body. When they get up in the morning, they control how they start their day. They lead their body into a morning routine. No matter what anyone else may tell them, they are in charge of starting the day and thinking for themselves. They lead themselves into decisions. Sometimes they lead themselves into disasters. We all are in control of our bodies and decisions unless we allow others to control us. That’s a different discussion for another day.  
  8. You’ve got this. Stop thinking of what you can’t do. The world isn’t like it was twenty years ago. We’re seeing people change their minds about what is viable versus what isn’t. We limit ourselves and our way of thinking when we believe that we can’t accomplish something or that something is too hard. Focus on the positives and show the world what you can do. Believe it or not, you’ve got this.  
  9. Surround yourself with positive folks.  If you surround yourself with negative folks, that energy will eventually rub off on you. The more positive energy you bring to the table, you will see yourself dramatically improve.   

No matter what you may think of me or the issues I bring to light, I hope you take the time to put yourself first. Even people I don’t like are beautiful. It may be more difficult for me to see them that way, but I recognize that they have skills, ideas, and viewpoints that I may not always agree with, but they are trying to put themselves and others first. I think we all need to remember that we’re worth investing in ourselves. Even if time is tight, you might want to consider getting up five to ten minutes earlier so that you can have time to focus solely on your needs.  

Start your day with a positive message to yourself and remember that you are a person of worth and someone who leaves lasting imprints on others. I hope this day is full of opportunities and blessings for all of you. Have a great day, everyone.    

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