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Step into Your Greatness by Putting Yourself First

By Crystal Hamilton

Disclosure: While all thoughts and opinions on this blog are my own, this post does contain affiliate links and any sales made through such links will earn me a small commission – at no extra cost for you. Keep in mind, the majority of links that I share are products that I have personally used myself. I’m simply sharing them in hopes that they benefit you on your journey as they have for me.  Thanks for supporting the brands that make my blog possible!

Is putting myself first selfish? Can I play all these roles and still have time to be me? Why am I feeling tapped out?

Do these questions sound familiar? Yeah, me too. I used to try and be everything to everybody. It seemed like the right thing to do – to be unquestioningly selfless – but I was exhausted, both mentally and physically.

Then, about four years ago, a lightbulb turned itself on – ping! – in my brain.

I was so busy being busy that I wasn’t progressing. I was spending all my time helping others with their personal problems and business aspirations; and leaving no time to focus on myself. That meant my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing was suffering. And if you’re stunting yourself in those areas, there’s no chance of being truly helpful to others.

So, I needed to learn how to put myself first before I could be of service to others.

Treat Yourself as You Would Treat God

 

That sounds a bit… self-obsessed, right? Hear me out.

Iyanla Vanzant (an incredibly accomplished, spiritual woman: lawyer, inspirational speaker, author) teaches that the way you treat yourself is the way that you treat God. Why? Because you are the representative of God in your life. Your mind and body are His gifts to you; the only ways you have of fulfilling your purpose. By putting yourself last you are, therefore, putting God last.

Now, most people (and especially most women) have been taught the opposite of that lesson. Put others before yourself, always; to do otherwise is selfish. Vanzant’s rebuttal really hits home with me: you have to fill your own cup before it overflows. The overflow is for others; it’s your service to the world.

So, it’s not selfish but rather self-full to consider yourself before others.

Now you have an understanding of the spiritual explanation of what it means to put yourself first. But your next question is probably , how do I do that exactly? What does that look like in my everyday life? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here is my checklist for learning how to take care of yourself first.

Say No Unapologetically

This takes some learning! Many of us automatically say, “Yes, of course!” to most requests – even if, on the inside, we’re screaming, “No!”. This is for several reasons:

  • We love those people and want them to be happy
  • We want people to like us
  • We worry about being rude
  • We want to be selfless, good people

However, by ignoring our internal “No!”, we overextend ourselves. We miss deadlines and alienate people.

We become susceptible to burnout. We become functionally useless for days after trying to do too much at once.

Counter-intuitively, we often start acting less nicely to people because we become resentful of those who take advantage of us.

Say “No” when you need to. It doesn’t make you a bad person; it makes you a realistic person. You don’t owe anyone an apology for having boundaries.

Make Time for “Me Time”

“Me time” can sound like something from a teen magazine, but it’s super important for your mental, emotional and physical health.

Me time” can be anything from a spa day to a writing session in a quiet room. It’s all up to you.

A good exercise is to write down five things that really make you feel yourself, or like your best self. Some good ones I’ve heard are meditation/yoga time; going to the movies (alone or with friends); attending a dance or art class; meeting friends for coffee.

Whatever makes you feel like “you”, prioritize it. You deserve it – and so do the people you love, who will get to enjoy the best version of you.

Prioritize Passion Projects

The things you love to do aren’t always the things that pay the bills. But they’re still important: they’re the things that feed your spirit and make you feel alive. Ultimately, they are where you find fulfillment.

If you’re a writer, make time to write. If you’re a creative, carve out time for design. If you’re a musician, find the space for composition and practice. If you crave the stage, join a local production or take a class.

Even if you don’t have a traditional passion project, take time to explore things that feed your spirit. Perhaps you love to travel? Something as simple as a weekend break in a nearby city can help soothe the soul.

Stand Up for Yourself

Don’t tolerate negativity or disrespect – from other people or from yourself.

We teach other people how to treat us by showing them what we allow.

Set boundaries to preserve your self-care; and talk to yourself as you’d talk to a dear friend, to preserve your self-worth.

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Don’t Own Other People’s Problems

Other people’s issues are not yours, even if you love those people. You aren’t responsible for their happiness.

You can be supportive and helpful without feeling as though you have to fix everything for them; and you can lighten their burdens without taking them on as your own.

End Toxic Relationships

If anyone in your life right now- right at this second, is a constant source of anger, sadness, low self-esteem or violence, they need to be gone from your life. Like right now! This goes for friends, romantic relationships or even family members.

You are serving nobody by being a punching bag. You deserve better. You will find people who take joy in lifting you up, not tearing you down.

Your Goals Matter

Your priorities don’t have to be centered around other people. Limit your availability to focus on areas of self-progression and self-actualization.

This can be difficult, as it often means declining time with family and friends when you want to direct your focus elsewhere. But you must remember that by valuing your own time, you are becoming your best self. That will benefit your loved ones as well.

Spend Money on Yourself

I’m not saying you should be irresponsible with finances; but you should recognize that it is okay to spend your money on stuff you want sometimes too. I am so guilty of taking care of the needs and wants of my family, that my husband has to literally make me spend money on something for myself.

If your budget allows it, pick something out for yourself next time you’re shopping for your family (or someone else). This could be something as big as a new tech gadget, or as small as a favorite snack. Maybe a piece of jewelry or a new outfit? The important thing is that it makes you feel warm inside – something for joy, not just function.

Seek Help and Accept it

Living your superhero self doesn’t mean going solo. It’s a good thing to take advantage of available help.

If you need a breather from the kids, take up the grandparents’ offer of childminding for a weekend.

If you run your own business, honestly assess whether some of your workload should be delegated or outsourced.

If you are faced with any kind of task that you’re struggling with, reach out to others. Something that’s hardcore difficult to you will be a walk in the park for someone else, and they’ll be happy to help (just like when you use your own skill set to help others).

All of this will increase efficiency and mindfulness in your life – and reduce turnaround time on tasks you find challenging.

The Wrap Up

When you are at your best – mentally, emotionally and physically – you are best able to help the world.

It’s therefore your duty to strive for happiness! That’s not just permission, that’s an order from your Superhero Alter Ego.

Do things that make you happy, every day. Clear your schedule and take a walk in the park, read a book or take a dance class. Feel no shame – there’s no reason for it.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to love you. 😊

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