Whether you’re somebody who struggles with sacrificing your own happiness for everyone else or you just feel like you run out of time in the day to do what you need to get done rather than worry about everyone else, this guide on how to put yourself first is going to give you both some practical and attitude-adjustment advice that will help keep you sane and realizing that your time has value and you are worth putting that time into.
It’s a classic problem that we hear time and time again, from moms who are doing everything for their kids and nothing for themselves, from workaholics who don’t know when to say no to the boss, from people in relationships who have lost themselve along the way and need to learn how to put yourself first in a relationship.
Learning how to put yourself first isn’t a selfish thing to do.
It’s not meaning that you should do what you want without caring about hurting other people or harming things around you.
This has to do with a general attitude of how you spend your time and how you keep your self-esteem in tact.
These tips for putting yourself first should inspire you and make you think about if you’re really putting as much time as you should be into you, and hopefully they encourage you to make some changes and start some good habits if you’re not.
Must-Read Book for Finding Your Confidence
After scouring the world of self-help books, I’ve found the best one for embracing who you are, not apologizing for what you do or what you believe, and achieving more.
It’s called “You Are a Bada**: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.”
This is seriously going to change your life, and you can find it here.
This self-love workbook is a fantastic way of realigning your own thoughts and outlook on yourself, which is important to do before you can really deal with anyone else’s feelings or thoughts about you.
Start Off Your Day Doing Something for Yourself
Before you start off your day, you need to do something for yourself.
Whether that means all you can do is drink a glass of water before you get out of bed to keep yourself hydrated or whether you have time to do a full workout or read a chapter of a book or listen to a podcast, you need to do it.
Creating a habit of consistently putting yourself first first thing in the morning starts your day off by reminding yourself that you are worth spending time on, and that all of the other people in your life who need or want your attention can give you the grace of having that time for yourself.
Again, it might be super short – a 3 minute meditation or another way to calm yourself when stressed, but when you start your day off by putting yourself first, you’ll be in a better position as you go through your day to remember your worthiness and focus on your happiness.
Learn to State Your Needs Clearly
Stating what you need and what you want is a huge part of putting yourself first.
If you’re one of those people who are always saying “oh, whatever you want” or letting other people decide, take back control.
It doesn’t mean that you should expect to always get your way or that you shouldn’t learn to compromise, but instead that you should be aware of your opinions and needs and learn to say them clearly.
For instance, let’s say that you’re someone who drops everything when the kids need you for something that’s not even urgent.
It can be hard to resist that pull, but learn to explain to them that you are doing XYZ for yourself and that you will be able to help them in however long you predict.
It’s the same for relationships and with friends.
Don’t be the person always going exactly where your friends want to go and not putting your opinion in about what restaurant you want to go to.
You might be genuinely happy to go wherever, but practice putting your opinions and needs out there to people who care about you and you’ll be surprised how good you feel when, even occasionally, you make the plans.
Remember That You Can’t Show Up For Other People Unless You Show Up for Yourself
This is a huge one relating to your attitude, and it may sound cliche, but it’s true.
You cannot be the best friend, parent, wife, husband, employee, whatever, unles you put yourself first.
If you are completely exhausted by caring about everyone else and putting them first, you won’t be able to emotionally be there for your child when they want to talk to you about a school project they’ve done.
When you are unhappy in yourself because all you do is go along with other people’s plans and opinions, you are a less interesting and engaging partner who stops having much going for them besides being a doormat.
Your people in your life deserve the best of you, and so even if you can’t see right now why it makes sense to put yourself first, you should practice it anyway knowing that it will also help them have the best version of you they can in their lives.
Take Up a Hobby or Exercise That’s Just for You
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in everything we have to do and everyone we have to help that we stop having any hobbies or interests of our own.
Sure, we might have hobbies as a couple we do together, but what do you do for yourself?
Whether you like reading, painting, going for walks, playing video games, whatever it is, make sure to put aside some time to enjoy that pursuit.
I don’t care how busy you are or how many kids you have or how demanding your job is.
You need to learn to say “this is my time” and then use it to develop that hobby or that side of yourself.
By setting boundaries in your life and making it clear that you value this time spent doing this hobby, you’re both growing as a person, reminding other people of your worth, and also indirectly encouraging other people to have the permission to do the same.
I really recommend this be a hobby you do either by yourself or with friends outside of your family members or relationships.
It’s great to have shared hobbies and shared interests, but try to keep developing things that only “belong” to you, as it’s a great way to learn how to put yourself first.
Build in Time to See Your Friends Away from Your Family
Sometimes, we have so much relationship or family time that we lose our friendships on the outside world.
This isn’t okay.
Everyone deserves time to spend with their friends, by themselves, to enjoy these relationships and not be confined to just one family unit.
Purposefully build in time in your schedule to see your friends and to prioritize their friendships in your life.
This keeps you healthy and happy and living a diverse range of experiences and not just stuck in a rut.
Train Yourself to Care About Yourself
For some people, learning how to put yourself first is a problem that stems from poor self-esteem or a compulsive need to put others first in order to feel better about yourself.
This isn’t a therapy session, but you need to recognize this within yourself and get help from a trained therapist as well as start training yourself to care more about yourself.
For instance, if you see the kid’s LEGOs on the floor and would instinctively pick them up in service to your kids even though it hurts your back when you do, stop yourself mid-way through the motion of picking them up and literally say to yourself, “no, they need to do this.”
Whenever you feel your mind going to a place of compulsively putting others before yourself to your detriment, talk to yourself out loud and try to redirect that thought.