It’s easy to do things for others first before taking care of our needs. All too often, those who do things for themselves first are labelled as being selfish.
Is it so wrong to do things for ourselves before doing things for others?
One of the best metaphors I’ve come across to explain this is to imagine being in an emergency situation in an aeroplane. The pilot’s voice comes over the announcement system saying cabin pressure has dropped and he has released the oxygen masks. His instruction is to put on your mask first.
In such a situation, it’s vital we put on our mask first before helping others with theirs. This is because if we’re running out of oxygen, it won’t be long before we’re in a serious situation, that could cause us to pass out, or even worse, die! If we’re incapacitated, we’re of no use to anyone else.
The Costs of Not Taking Care of Yourself First
- Feeling run down mentally, emotionally and physically.
- High levels of frustration and resentment towards those we deal with regularly.
- Not being at our best consistently.
- Taking a lot longer to get things done.
- Not being able to serve those we care about as best as we can.
Doing things for ourselves should be considered as selfless rather than selfish.
Over the past few years, some new habits I developed includes giving myself some quiet time every morning to meditate, reflect and get ready for my day. This typically takes around 30 minutes and has served me well.
A few months ago, as I was reflecting on what I had been doing, I asked myself, “How can I take my morning practice to the next level?”
I included three additional things, which started off with creating a Daily Dashboard that includes my purpose statement, my values, my passions, my affirmations and words that define who I aspire to be in terms of my identity and performance.
The second thing includes using a releasing technique called tapping, which helps deal with emotions that may affect us by tapping on different energy points in our body. This process usually takes about five minutes.
The third thing is to activate my voice by speaking out loud. I’ll usually do this when I’m going for a walk or I’ll do it when I’m driving.
These three additional practices has added an additional 15 minutes to my morning routine. As a result of doing these, I have found I am more grounded and focused, especially in the mornings and I rarely feel rushed when working.
This has helped me become more productive in terms of my daily outputs, which means I am reaching completion a lot quicker than previously. By choosing to do more things for myself, I can serve others better.
10 Things You Should Consider Doing For Yourself
- Spend more time with people who are making a difference in their communities. As we become more like those we spend most of our time with, being around community-minded people will inspire and motivate us to serve our communities as well. This may require us to spend less time with those who are used to having us in their lives such as relatives or acquaintances.
- Be willing to ask for what you need or want. Having the confidence to ask for what we want is vital to our success in life. If there are things preventing us from asking for what we want, we should address them because as the saying goes, “Ask and you shall receive.”
- Be your true self. It’s not uncommon for people to conform to other people’s expectations or preferences to feel liked or accepted. The challenge is that if we’re not being true to who we are, it will bring up resentment or anger, and can also result in a sense of resignation. We have to be authentic and treat ourselves the way we want others to treat us.
- Trust your inner voice more than your rational voice. We all have an inner voice. Sometimes this voice tells us to be practical, be safe and keep things as they are so we don’t get disappointed should something we want not eventuate. We also have a softer, quieter voice, that is nudging us to do what we really want to. This is the voice we have to learn to trust more because it’s always guiding us in the right direction.
- Start that dream you have been putting off. We all have dreams but some of us have chosen to put off our dreams for many reasons such as now is not the best time, having too many other responsibilities or not believing in our ability to achieve our dreams. As our time is limited, it’s better to have attempted to go for dreams rather than have our dreams die inside us.
- Acknowledge your problems or challenges. There is no point pretending we don’t have problems because everyone has them. Instead of hiding or ignoring our problems, we have to face them because that’s how we will continue to grow and evolve.
- Spend time on your own. Time alone can cause us to be more successful. We have to learn to accept that it’s okay to be on our own to reflect on what’s important to us, without feeling guilty. If spending time on our own can lead to a higher level of happiness, then it should be something we do regularly.
- Give more. There will always be people who are less fortunate than us, no matter what we have going on in our lives. Giving more does not mean we ignore what’s important to us. It means we’re able to serve others in a bigger way because we have an abundant mindset and are able to do more.
- Celebrate your wins. This requires us to slow down and acknowledge what we’re accomplished. Moving onto something else without allowing ourselves to feel satisfied with what we’ve achieved is not a real win. A win can be big or small. It comes down to what we want to appreciate in our lives.
- Face a situation or person you have been avoiding. Sometimes things happen that may not be to our liking so we’d rather ignore it or pretend it’s not there. Unfortunately, that is not an intelligent strategy for dealing with situations in life. Facing something from the past will free up mental energy and it will also teach us valuable lessons which we can use next time we’re in a similar situation.
As we take more care of our needs, we’ll also take care of other’s needs better. If we do more things for ourselves, we’ll feel better about ourselves, which will be reflected in everything we do for others. If we’re happier, that will show up in who we are being each day.
Action Step: Pick one thing from the list above and apply it this week. Share it with someone to enhance what you’re experiencing.
Question: What is another thing we should consider doing for ourselves?