Putting yourself first is a truly selfless act.
Don’t worry if that sounds a bit strange right now. I used to think that taking care of other people was far more important than looking after my own needs. Luckily, my life on the road has taught me a lot about emotional resilience and healthy relationships…
From a very young age, we are taught to put other people before us. We are told not to be too selfish or demanding, and to always be nice to other people.
Whilst kindness is a wonderful quality that does the world a lot of good, putting yourself first is not selfish. In fact, taking good care of yourself is one of the best ways that you can make the world a happier, more accepting place.
I didn’t use to see things this way.
I used to pathologically put other people’s needs before my own. I would stumble over myself to say yes to anything asked of me, and would go to the ends of the earth to help other people, even if it meant my own mental and physical health suffered.
I thought I was doing the right thing. You’ve got to be kind to everyone, right?
But what about me? Didn’t I deserve my kindness too?
For many years I struggled with my mental health. I’ve been through more ups and downs and loop the loops than I can count. I was so busy trying to take care of everyone else that my own needs got completely pushed aside.
Here’s the thing.
We can spend our whole lives pouring love and energy into other people. But if we don’t take the time to restore and preserve the energy we are handing around like candy, then eventually our own life force will run dry.
We might call our energy drain a burnout, or a midlife crisis, or a depression. It doesn’t matter what we call it, the outcomes are the same.
We suffer greatly. The people that have become dependent on our energy are suddenly starved, and they suffer too.
The kindest thing we can do in this world is take brilliant care of ourselves. Say no when we want to say no, take plenty of time to rest, and prioritise our own joy over everybody else’s whims.
When we do this, we have so much love and energy inside our body that it overflows. It can be offered to people that are struggling without hurting ourselves, and it won’t ever run dry. This is a much more sustainable model than only thinking about other people until you have a break down!
I believe that letting people get too dependent on us isn’t kind to them at all. We absolutely should do our best to live a kind and gentle life. We shouldn’t seek to hurt other people or put them down.
But we must also recognise that the path to healing can only be walked by those who are prepared to step out for themselves. We can give them a map, or cheer them on from the sidelines.
But we can’t drag them kicking and screaming along the mountain trails. Healing only comes from investing time and energy into your own wellbeing. We can’t do it for anybody else through sheer determination, and it’s unfair on both of us to try.
You know what else?
The way that people treat us has nothing to do with the way they feel about us. It has everything to do with their relationship with themselves. Once we start to accept and take care of ourselves, it becomes so much easier to treat other people with the same love.
I would like to challenge you to take better care of yourself in the coming week.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, go for a little walk by yourself. When you are tired, go and get some rest. For just one week, stop chasing after everybody else’s needs and ask yourself what you can be doing to support your own mental and physical health.
Can you think of one thing that you would love to do to take better care of yourself? Please let me know in a comment, I would love to hear from you.
Related blog posts:
- The Inseparable Health Of People And The Earth
- Success: The Great Lie of Our Time
- Making Deeper Connection When You Live On The Road
If this article resonated, you might like to check out The Highly Sensitive Nomad book.
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