How to Put Yourself First

Jordan Brown

Do you feel guilty when you say "no" to others?

Do you struggle with knowing how to put yourself first?

You're not alone.

Most caring people I know struggle with this.

But what ends up happening when you put everyone's needs before your own?

In my case, I became completely and utterly emotionally drained.

But there's a way out.

Below I'll share what you need to do if you struggle with putting yourself first and saying "no" to others.

How Not to Put Yourself First

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

A friend reaches out to you to ask for your help. You feel great that someone would think of you in this way.

"They want MY help? Wow, how special I feel!"

And, of course, you jump in to assist them.

Except, they don't really want your help.

What they actually want is to dump all their heavy feelings on you.

On top of that, they also want you to do stuff. For THEM.

The nerve!

What's going on here?

If you have a compassionate bone in your body, you've run into a situation like this before.

The phrase, "No good deed goes unpunished" seems particularly appropriate here.

What's going on is that most people who need you don't actually need you. You just need them to need you.

Let that sink in for a second.

We don't see people as they are. We see them as we are.

As a result, we sometimes feel like we have no option but to be there for others. We feel like a bad person if we don't do our part.

This is something I struggled with for most of my life, and I've finally broken the curse.

I've learned to set boundaries, to put my mental health first.

Now, that doesn't mean I don't help people when they need it. I'm just MUCH more thoughtful about how I approach any given situation.

I ask myself questions:

"What's really going on here?"

"Does this person actually need my help?"

"How do I feel about this?"

"Am I trying to just boost my own insecurities by helping this person?"

This may seem cold and analytical to you, but it's what it takes to protect your mental health.

I've written about energy vampires before.

These kinds of vampires don't suck your blood. They suck you of your vital energy by taking up as much of your time and agenda as possible.

How to Put Yourself First (6 Strategies)

Putting yourself first.

Even after knowing what's going on, it's still not easy to correct the problem.

But if you try a few of the strategies below, you're bound to find one that works for you:

  1. Apologize and say that you're taking more time for yourself. Be clear it's to improve your physical and mental health.
  2. Just say no thank you. No elaborate reason needed.
  3. Instead of giving a blanket "No," share what you are willing to do. (If you're actually willing to do it, of course.)
  4. Offer to find someone else who would be better able to help--or would have more time to help than you currently have.
  5. Declare that you have a rule. It's much easier to say "no" when you say, "I'm sorry, I have a rule that I don't do..." People find it much easier to understand rules, and this is a great way to get yourself off the hook.
  6. Clearly explain your agenda and goals for the week. Only after you do that do you try to fit the person into your schedule. Energy vampires don't care about what works for you. That's why you need to set the tone up front!

Try one or two of these strategies this week.

I guarantee you'll have a new favorite strategy in no time.

Remember, the goal is not to copy what I say--it's to develop a plan that works best for you.

And if, after reading all this you decide, "You know what? No thanks. I'm good," well...I'm OK with that, too. :)