Put yourself (and your mental health) first

Find out how taking action to ‘put yourself first’ can improve your mental health and change your life

Do you ever put yourself first? What action do you take when there is a situation in your life that requires you to put someone or something else ahead of yourself? I’m sure that if you are like me then you feel obliged to always put someone or something else ahead of your own interests. Whilst this is a great quality to have; putting other people, work, friends, other commitments, partners and children ahead of ourselves on a constant basis can have a negative effect on your mental health. Find out some of the common ways that we put others first and what we can do about it to improve our overall well-being.

You always put someone else first

Whether it is our family, friends, or even our employer – we are all guilty of putting someone else first. I know this seems like we are doing the right thing but if you feel that you are not happy, or you are stressed, or not getting any value out of putting someone else first constantly, then why are you doing it? I learnt that I often put work ahead of my own personal interests and a new focus of mine is to cut back the amount of time I spend at work. I know that feelings of guilt and anxiety come up when we say no to putting someone else first, but we need to learn to realize that whenever we put someone else first we are saying no to ourselves. What is the real reason that you put work or someone else first? Is it because you are scared what will happen if you don’t put them first? A true friend or family member will understand if there is something more important to you; and if an employer doesn’t understand that you need to put yourself from time to time for your well-being, well maybe you need to ask yourself if this is the right employer for you.

You are scared that you might fail

You might not think that putting others first has anything to do with the fear of failure – but it does. You are scared that you might fail at a relationship, fail a friend, fail your employer and get fired, or all of the above. This failure drives your need and willingness to constantly put other peoples priorities ahead of your own. We need to understand that ultimately you could fail at all of these things regardless of whether you put in all of your effort into them or not. We need to accept that failure will happen and just by putting their priorities ahead of our own – doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. Even if you do fail, you might find that failure is actually good for your mental health

You don’t want to be selfish

No one wants to be labelled as selfish. Saying to ourselves that we are selfish if we put ourselves first is part of the negative emotions we have associated with putting ourselves first. We need to change how we think to understand that you are not selfish if you put yourself first from time to time. What other people say about you doesn’t reflect who you truly are – that is just their perception of you. You need to develop the confidence within yourself that you know who you are and that you are not a selfish person. Just because you want to go to a party instead of help your friend move houses – does not make you a selfish person. Is your friend not the selfish one if they expect you to ditch the party to help them pack up boxes? From this small example we can see that sometimes it is other people that put their selfishness on to us – and we are the ones left with the feelings of guilt.

You don’t think that it is that important to your overall well-being

It is amazing how we still don’t understand how important a balanced lifestyle is to our mental health. Putting yourself from time to time is imperative to our overall well-being. Living a life of always putting others first just leaves us thrown around like a plastic bag in the wind. It doesn’t mean that you don’t care about others – but it just means that you care about yourself just as much as you care about everyone else. As a man I find that we are often the last ones to value our mental health (and women are guilty of this too). We feel ashamed about being depressed however we need to learn that it is okay to be depressed from time to time. By understanding that putting yourself is important to your overall well-being, you can now actively make the changes to put yourself first from time to time.

You don’t value yourself

There are times when we are selfless and have a sense of disregard for our own mental health. We need to learn that we are just as worthy as the next person. We need to understand that other people taking advantage of our kindness is not going to make you happy in the long run. Yes it feels good to put others first, but if we are constantly ignoring our own needs and wants then we are going to remain unhappy – regardless of how happy we make other people. If putting others first is your thing – then that is great! You will feel happy about it. But if you don’t feel happy about it, or if work is taking advantage of how much overtime you are putting in, or friends are taking advantage of your generosity, or family become too demanding – then maybe we need to change and value our self-worth a little more.

Now it’s time to put yourself first!

I am sure that if you are still reading it means that you understand that you have to put yourself first. It has to be clear that putting yourself first doesn’t mean that you no longer care about other people or other priorities – it just means that we need to recognize that sometimes we need to be a little more considerate of our own priorities. Whatever it is that you want to change, don’t be scared to do it and learn to deal with change! Putting yourself first will not only improve your mental health but it will also put you in a better position to help other people and do the other things that are important to you with a much better mindset. If you enjoyed this post then please like, share and comment on the post as I would love to hear from you!

About the author – Stef – Positive Living and Mental Health Advocate

Stef is a positive living and mental health advocate who dedicates much of his free time to improving his own and others mental health. Never miss a post by subscribing to the blog for free. Just pop your email address into the form on this page to claim your free membership!

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