Learn to Take Care of Yourself First

You put a lot of effort into taking care of day-to-day obligations, tedious chores, and other people. But have you forgotten to take care of yourself?

INVESTING IN YOUR OWN HAPPINESS IS NOT SELFISH

Can you remember the last time you decided to do something for yourself? Not an obligation or chore, and not something you did for someone else, but rather something you want to do. One of the things that can make you feel guilty for “wasting” time and money on yourself.

I understand that you don’t want to feel guilty and selfish, and nobody wants to be viewed as such. But I want you to know that investing in your own happiness is not selfish or a waste. Everyone stands to gain from it.

The sad truth is that we’re not our best selves when stressed out and unhappy. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but to be there for other people, you need to be there for yourself first!

MAKING PLANS TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

It can be difficult to get a healthy self-maintenance trend going, especially if it’s been neglected for too long. (And really any amount of time is too long.)

Where do we even start?

I’ve found that writing things down, preferably with pen and paper, is a great method for sorting my thoughts. You’ll probably find that it gives you a lot of clarity as well.

We can try it right now if you are ready!

I want you to write down 10 things that you wish to do, 10 things that will make you happy. Don’t be afraid to put the focus on yourself!

You can get fancy with your picks if you want, but there’s really no need. Scheduling 30 minutes of alone time to relax is equally valid as booking a full day at a spa resort. Unless it’s a major inconvenience to the people around you or to your economy, it’s a fair pick.

Here’s a list I made for myself now:

THINGS I WANT TO DO TIME REQUIRED MONEY REQUIRED
1) Save 10% of my income every month No time! :) 10% of monthly income
2) Go to the gym more often Maybe around 1 hour Membership fee
3) Cook something new and interesting Around 30-40 minutes Price of food
4) Buy some good quality tea No time! :) Around $10-15
5) Sleep an extra hour tomorrow One hour Free! :)
6) Go see a movie with a friend 2-3 hours Cost of ticket
7) Buy some new books No time! :) $40-50

When you’re happy with your list, we’re ready to start making dreams into reality. It’s preferable if you find a way to schedule at least one of your picks sometime the next seven days. An hour or two every week to focus exclusively on yourself and your happiness is the least you can ask.

The table below gives a rough estimate of how you can schedule different picks:

WHAT WHEN
1) Go to the gym more often Monday at 5PM, next week
2) Buy some new books Next time I get paid
3) Sleep an extra hour tomorrow Tomorrow

YOUR GUILT HAS NO BASIS IN REALITY

I expect that a fair amount of people will feel guilty and selfish when trying to focus entirely on themselves. I want to defuse those feelings before they ever become a problem.

It’s understandable that you’re having these feelings, but know that they are most likely not based in fact.

If you still have your pen and paper available, I want you to flip the paper over. This time I want you to draw a line down the middle, separating the sheet into two equal parts.

Ask yourself “What is the negative consequences of me focusing more on myself?” or rather “What thoughts are holding me back from focusing more on myself?”

Number and scribble down your answers on the left side of the paper. Now, here comes the fun part.

On the right side, we are going to challenge these ideas, because as you read earlier, they are very unlikely to be realistic.

Here are a table of my answers, and the way I challenged my arguments:

MY ARGUMENTS RATIONAL RESPONSE
People will start viewing me as selfish This doesn’t make much sense, I don’t consider other people selfish for having hobbies or spending time/money on themselves. But even if someone did view me as selfish, why would their opinion matter? I still love and care for the people around me, but I’m learning to do the same for myself as well.
I’ll get less things done at home if I focus on myself instead of my daily chores I should be able to set aside some time for self-care, without losing track of my daily chores. I’ve probably been spending a bit too much time trying to make everything perfect anyway, but I know that isn’t possible.
My quality of work will go down How do I really know this? It would be bad if this happened, but it’s equally likely the quality of my work will go up because I will feel better and more motivated if I make self-care a habit. I should try and see what happens.
My relationships will wither away if I don’t invest my time cultivating them It’s not like I need to invest 100% of my time into cultivating relationships. I think I read somewhere that a healthy relationship needs some space anyway. It’s probably a good thing if I am not always available, and the returns from investing in myself might make my relationships stronger.

As you can see, none of my arguments held up under scrutiny. They couldn’t hold up under scrutiny because they were a result of my insecurity and emotional reasoning. They never had a basis in objective reality.

The simple truth is that we become better parents, lovers, friends, etc. by pampering ourselves now and then. The amount of positive influence you have on the people around you will rise threefold as you learn to better take care of yourselfI obviously made that number up, but know that your positive influence will increase!

Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make!

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