We are all so conditioned to feel guilty for prioritizing ourselves above other people. But the thing is, we are just as important as anyone else in our lives. We are a HUGE part of our own lives after all. And, as I always say, if we don’t take care of ourselves, what good are we to anyone else?
Here’s the deal: It’s okay to put your needs above other people’s needs sometimes.
There are so many situations in which you need to take care of yourself over anyone else in order to be a fully functioning, happy, useful person in this world.
And here’s the other deal: It’s okay to not feel guilty about it.
If fact, you should never ever feel guilty for putting yourself first when you know it’s the right thing to do.
Now, I’m not saying we should all go around being selfish little gremlins, disregarding the feelings of others, and solely think of ourselves all the time.
Of course not.
But, when the time comes for us to make decisions that we know we need to make in order to take good care of ourselves, it is a-okay to make those decisions and not feel bad about it.
Here are three things that you should never ever feel selfish about:
1. Taking time for yourself
If you need a night off from friends, overtime shifts, or life in general, it is totally fine to spend the night alone, cuddled up in your private space, doing whatever suits your fancy.
We spend a lot of our time caring for others, running errands for others, thinking of others, talking to others – but what about us? Don’t we deserve some of our own love and attention?
Taking time for yourself is a great opportunity to do the things you enjoy without worrying about anyone else’s schedule or needs. Such times enable you to fully express yourself and be one hundred percent you without anyone else looking over your shoulder.
It’s quite freeing, and you end up feeling refreshed and energized in the long run.
2. Saying “no”
If coworkers want you to go to happy hour, but you’d rather workout, it’s okay to decline the invitation.
If your boss offers you extra pay to pull a Saturday shift, but you’re really not feelin’ it and don’t desperately need the cash, it’s okay to tell the boss you’re not available at that time.
If siblings ask you to babysit while they go run errands, it’s okay to not drop everything to help and instead tell them when you have time to watch their kids.
And the kicker here is: You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
You don’t have to provide an excuse for why you’re not doing what someone else wants you to do at the time they want you to do it.
You can simply say “no” and offer an alternative time or scenario so that you all get your needs met.
3. Standing up for yourself (and others)
If someone bullies you, you have every right to stand up for yourself.
If your friends are gossiping about someone you know, you have every right to put the kibosh on the conversation.
If a group is making ignorant, derogatory comments about certain types of people (e.g., women, LGBT, disabled, minorities, etc.), you have every right to explain why their comments are ignorant and derogatory and why it would be wiser of them to keep their traps shut because what they say about other people says waaaaay more about them. (And it sure don’t make them look good…)
Never be afraid to speak up when you know it’s the right thing to do.
Now, there is a concept that the Buddha taught, which may contradict this whole standing up for yourself and others business:
If it’s not truthful and not helpful, don’t say it.
If it’s truthful and not helpful, don’t say it.
If it’s not truthful and helpful, don’t say it.
If it’s truthful and helpful, find the right time.
– The Buddha
Sometimes, it’s absolutely pointless to speak up because the people you’re speaking to are just never going to get it. In which case, refer to number 1 – go take some time for yourself.
The next time someone asks something of you and you’d rather be doing something else with your time, consider putting your needs first.
Will the sky fall down if you say “no” to someone? Will everyone’s world fall apart if you ask someone for an alternative time or scenario? Will you lose all your friends and family forever if you don’t pick up the phone or text back?
You’re the best judge of your life and your priorities. No one can answer any of those questions but you.
Always be a good friend, especially to those you love the most, but always also take some time to be a good friend to yourself. You deserve some of your own love and attention, too.