Do you ever feel like you can’t catch your breath? You don’t have a moment to yourself. You’re overwhelmed, and the to-do list is neverending. If this resonates with you, you’re not alone.
Trying to balance responsibilities and relationships leaves little to no time for your needs to be met. I get it. Responsibilities take precedence. Let’s face it, the bills aren’t going to pay themselves, and you DO need to eat.
When the essentials are covered, you find the time to fit in stolen moments to bond with the people in your life. Text a friend. Phone a parent. Cuddle with your dog. Whatever you can fit in. And, finally, you have a chance to do something for yourself.
What if you switched those priorities around and put yourself FIRST? What would that feel like for you? Guilt or freedom? You choose.
Being a responsible person comes naturally to me. I break everything down into goals, from the minor (food shopping) to the big (writing a book). When I set my mind to something, it happens one way or another. I meet my goals because obstacles don’t exist in my mind. I’ll find a way around them, or I’ll adjust my plan accordingly. In the end, I manage myself along with the goal, and, voila, I tend to find success.
However, managing relationships is a bit more complex. I’m a work in progress in this arena, as most of us are. Yet, I’m aware if I let a relationship go entirely, it will fall apart. Plain and simple. Sure, my closest family and friends are more resilient in this regard, but forget about anyone else. No one has time to wait around for me to show up in their life. If I’m not present, I run the risk of falling off their radar entirely and into their never-never-land.
I’m no different from most. I’ve heard this same story from so many people. When you can’t balance everything perfectly, you assume your time management skills aren’t up to par. Instead of taking care of the problem, managing YOURSELF, you overcompensate and put everyone else’s needs before your own. This leads to feeling overwhelmed and unproductive. Sure, your loved ones are happy, but you’re beyond miserable.
When you put yourself first, it’s NOT selfish. It’s an act of self-love. It means you’ve decided to elevate your needs. This is especially important to those of you who are people pleasers (eh-hem). You give and give until there’s nothing left inside of you. You end up feeling empty, angry, and confused.
Why don’t you feel fulfilled? Because giving pieces of yourself to others when you aren’t genuinely whole to begin with doesn’t do the job. It’s when you’re happy, healthy, and mentally present that giving to others can be truly valuable. Adding value to someone’s life makes the giver and the receiver happy. Everybody wins.
Think of it this way…
Your friend has a fight with her boss and calls you to complain. Maybe, she’s even looking for some advice. Either way, you’re a sounding board for her. You’ve done nothing but deal with other people’s problems all week. You’re angry, empty, and drained yourself. Still, she’s your friend, and she’s called upon you for help.
In your depleted state, you’re likely offering her one of two things:
- An ear to listen without much to say. It isn’t so bad, but what was the point of calling you in the first place? She could have easily vented aloud to the room and gotten the same response.
- A commiserating rant. As a fellow complainer, you’ll likely make her feel better at first. Then, your tirade will undoubtedly reveal your hidden anger and aggravate the situation, increasing her tension and stress. Now, matters are worse.
What your friend really needs is someone who can listen with empathy and compassion. Someone who can ask the questions she needs to answer for herself to come to her own conclusion. Only a person getting what they need, mentally, physically, and emotionally, can offer such an evolved contribution.
I’m sure some people are exceptions, as with any rule. Still, my master’s degree in psychological counseling hasn’t afforded me any advanced skills in this area. When I’m depleted, no one will benefit from interacting with me on any level.
Just Say NO
The key is to learn when to say NO to others and HELL YES to yourself. Obviously, you’re not going to opt out of your best friend’s birthday dinner because you’d rather watch Shark Week. But…if your coworker invites you to happy hour, but you want to go to the gym, it’s okay to pass on the booze.
Will you feel guilty about turning people away? Likely the first few times, sure. Once you commit to putting yourself FIRST, you’ll believe so strongly that if it’s not a HELL YES, it’s a NO. Soon, politely declining when it doesn’t serve you will feel like second nature. And, the people in your life will respect you for it. They’ll know you love yourself enough to choose yourself. Even more so, they’ll know when you’re with them that you chose them and you’re fully engaged as a result.
Then Say HELL YES
Saying HELL YES to yourself means different things to different people. Maybe it’s a spa day with your friends, or a day at the beach with your family. It could be to finish a work project so you will be ahead of your busy schedule come Monday. No matter what it is, only YOU can define your needs. Whatever you do, don’t neglect them.
When you put yourself first, everyone comes out on top. You’ll be happier and healthier, and EVERYONE will notice. Those around you will be a little bit better off for having been in your presence.
So, stop beating yourself up for not doing everything. Instead, do what’s required for YOU to be in a good place. Then, go ahead and make sure the people you love are good, too. Even the airlines make you put your oxygen mask on first before you assist others. You can’t help anyone if you’re passed out.
Think about it.
Book that massage. Go on your date night. Finish the DIY project. Read your favorite book. Sleep in. Whatever it is, and no matter how difficult, say HELL YES to YOU. It’s not selfish. It’s EVERYTHING.
I’ll be saying HELL YES to what makes me happy: writing, going to the beach, and spending time with people I love. Try it this week, and let me know how you feel. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. At best, it will change your life. At worst, you’ll learn something about what’s most important to you.
Go ahead. Put YOU first. I’m here for YOU, cheering you on all the way!