If there’s one thing I have learned over the years that ideally should be taught in schools is the importance of putting yourself first. It’s a hard skill to ace especially when you grow up in a society that glamourises putting others above yourself. What’s all the more saddening is that even in the age of social media, with plenty of information about topics like this one out there, many still find it hard to put it into practice. And that may be due to the fact that not everyone understands the importance of putting themselves first. So let’s dive into that first.
One of the first things to understand about this is that in no way does it mean being or becoming selfish. Selfish people tend to only think about themselves without any regard for others around them. Putting yourself first usually means you take into account your own needs and feelings as well as that of others but you do what’s best for you without causing hurt to someone else. And it’s important to do so because get this, nobody else is going to do that for you. Taking care of your physical and mental health is solely your responsibility. Building the life of your dreams is your responsibility. In order to get what you need or desire, you must ask for it because no one else is going to do that for you.
The thing is when you’ve been this person all your life, prioritising yourself first can seem super daunting because there is little to no experience in that area. But eventually, it leads to feelings of resentment. Feeling under-appreciated, under-valued, suffering from low self-esteem, burnouts, mental exhaustion are some of the common side effects. And why I know this is because I have had a first-hand experience and the pandemic put things into perspective.
In a world full of never-ending comparisons and a fixed set of standards, one too many of us find it hard to realise our own worth and importance. This toxic trait has in fact been ingrained into us humans from the very beginning of time itself with either a caste being more superficial than the other or a job, skin colour, nationality, body type.. the list can go on but you get my point. In a society like this, it can take some serious work to recognise self-worth and importance and then use that learning to make changes in your life. But here are my two cents, each one of us is important, each one of us is worthy and each one of us deserves to feel that way. Unless you do, you’re always going to be a mat people walk all over.
Us humans, we’re wired to be social and hence possess the tendency of caring for others and that’s why we check in with them every now and then. So why shouldn’t we do the same with ourselves? Whether we’re living a rough life or a smooth sailing one, we all go through a million thoughts on the daily and encounter different experiences and even though they may not be eventful, they’re still stills from your life that in some way or the other have an impact on you.
The famous saying is that change is the only constant and it’s the ultimate truth of life and with so many changes that we go through, it’s crucial we stop for a minute and ask ourselves how we’re coping. If we’re okay with the way our lives are turning out, what needs to be changed, what needs to be cultivated, addressing our thoughts and emotions and finally just figuring out if we’re doing OK.
Setting boundaries can seem like the most difficult thing about putting yourself first. It seems scary because we’re unaware of how the other person will take it. It’s a natural human tendency to care what people around you think of you. However, for some, it’s easy to assert their boundaries but for some, it’s not and sadly for those, they need to put in that extra bit of effort to do so. Not doing so will result in people constantly crossing you, pushing you to your limits, testing your patience and challenging your threshold and you wouldn’t know how to deal with it leading to anger outbursts, breakdowns and more.
Speaking up is also somewhat a byproduct of setting boundaries. But it also means expressing your desires, emotions and asking for what you want. Once you train yourself to do this, you will almost automatically never settle for less than what you deserve.
Celebrate your achievements—big or small, don’t differentiate because all of us have one life with no knowledge of the timeline so don’t waste time pushing your celebrations or downplaying your achievements. It’s not worth it. But that’s completely besides the point, important nonetheless. The main takeaway here is that appreciating yourself is necessary to inculcate the habit of loving yourself. It’s a vice-versa kind of a situation but it leads to an increase in self-worth and that helps in putting yourself before others with more ease.
Part of making yourself a priority is also prioritising your physical and mental health. It’s in fact a major part. Establishing a routine tailored according to your needs will only set you on the path of growing to be a happier person. Your daily routine must include enough hours of sleep, eating right and eating on time, working out and a brief time to unwind. These are crucial things to a peaceful existence. Disrupting it for anything else just means you’re not prioritising your needs, ones that nature created and even if you’re not doing it simply because you’re lazy, it shows you don’t care enough. Cheat days are excluded. Think about it.
It’s a sincere hope that more of us start prioritising ourselves and taking care of ourselves. That said, hopefully, these tips should help you make your life a little better if not entirely! And to be a part of more such conversations, don’t forget to join Girl Tribe by MissMalini.