You learn from a young age that you should put others' needs before your own.

This is especially common in women and over time can lead to what I tell my clients – is the ‘leaky bucket syndrome’, where you give and give and give and are completely exhausted, stuck, overwhelmed and have no idea who you are, what your needs are or how to fill your own bucket. This can lead to feelings of disconnection, depression and anxiety and in some cases negative habits and addictions.

Generational or societal conditioning around putting yourself first has very negative connotations which is why it can be common to be selfless, especially in relationships. 

You often feel trapped and stuck with no clear path ahead. You struggle to understand why you continually choose to put other’s needs before your own.  You are irritable with your loved ones because you feel so empty and flat and when someone asks you a question it can tip you over the edge.

You’ve heard of the analogy of fitting your own oxygen mask before assisting others and this is very fitting when acknowledging the importance of self-care.  If you don’t fit your own mask first, you are of no help to anyone.  

You may be thinking, I’ve heard this before and I wouldn’t know where to start because I have so much to do so much is expected of me and if I don’t do all the things, how is it going to get done?  I hear you!  However, it is possible.  If you learn how to utilise the time you already have to create simple, baby steps towards looking after yourself and tending to your needs you will be amazed at how this will improve your relationships.  We all have the same amount of time.  It is a matter of carving out some non-negotiable time in your day where you prioritise your needs.

Perhaps you could start with a daily self-check-in.  How am I feeling today?  What do I need today?  Take baby steps to meet those needs.

Here are 3 benefits of putting yourself first – 

  1. Fill your bucket first. When your bucket is full, you are actually able to give more in relationships.  To do this, write down a list of a few simple self-care practices you could easily implement.  It could be enjoying a cup of tea, doing a 5 minute meditation, having a bath with a candle, attending a yoga class or spending time with your friends.
  2. Choose to be self-responsible.  It can be common in relationships to play the blame game.  It is easier to do this than to be self-responsible, however when you own who you are, your flaws and all, it will help you move from feeling stuck and blocked to feeling lighter and allow more room for care and compassion with those you love.  
  3. When you choose to meet your needs first, you will stop relying on others or feeling co-dependant.  This will help to create more balance, harmony, peace and more freedom in relationships.

Making yourself a priority and taking care of your own needs in no way means that you love others any less.  Neither does it mean that you are being disrespectful or hurtful. It means that when you look after yourself, you are able to care for and enjoy positive and better quality relationships. 

As with everything in life, striving for a healthy balance is key.

I would love to hear your feedback on this topic.

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