How To Put Yourself First In Life Without Being Selfish

Published by Paul Harrison on

Sometimes you have to put yourself first in life. 

Good this in this: You can put yourself first without being selfish.

You can care for yourself without being selfish too.

Yes, You Can Put Yourself First Without Being Selfish

Listen, I know you are empathetic person and you are incredibly compassionate. But sometimes you have to be willing to put yourself first in life.

You’re a beautiful soul, and people love you for it.

People love you because:

  • you are there for them
  • they can trust you
  • you go above and beyond for the people you love
  • you’re the first person there in an emergency
  • you are always kind and loving.
  • and because you never say no to people

Right, but sometimes you need to focus on yourself instead of on other people.

[bctt tweet=”No one in the universe deserve your love and kindness as much as you yourself do–Buddha” username=”t_d_meditation”]

You feel guilty putting yourself first

Hold on:

Do you feel guilty putting yourself first in life? Do you think it’s selfish to say no to people and yes to you?

Do you think it is selfish to focus on yourself when there are so many other people in the world to focus on?

I get that.

For years I’ve been a people pleaser. Heck, I’ve sacrificed near every part of myself for other people. I’ve even written countless articles about being selfless and extremely generous because I believe that loving kindness is the most important thing in the world.

Problem is, if you continue down the path of always putting others before yourself you will end up with little for yourself.

Yesterday I learned the problem with putting yourself last

For the past year I’ve been working my butt off on this website and on other things. 99 percent of the time when I have wanted to do something for myself I’ve decided that I don’t have the time and that there’s too much work to be done.

Then two and a half weeks ago my mum came to visit. She lives in England. I live in Canada. We see each other twice a year.

The second my mum came to visit I immediately decided that I had enough time to take the entire two and half weeks off to do everything she wanted to do.

I love my mum immensely and am glad to spend time with her and to do whatever she likes to do. So I am happy that I spent those past two and a half weeks with her.

But at the same time there is an obvious logical flaw here. Because how could it be that I didn’t have any time for myself for the past year, but then suddenly had two and a half weeks of solid time to give to my mother?

My situation didn’t change. I had just as much work to do. But the entire time I’d been by myself I’d always been too busy, then suddenly when she came to visit I had two and a half weeks off. How can that possibly be the case?

The answer is this: I put my mother before myself, just as I put others before myself.

Time off for me? No way. Time off for family and friends? Sure, I’ll gladly give them however much time they want.

If I considered myself and my needs to be as important as others and their needs, things would be different.

My point here isn’t that you shouldn’t ever give to other people. Of course you should. Generosity is invaluable and a kind spirit is the most beautiful thing a person can possess.


It Isn’t Fair To Yourself To Put Yourself Last

One of the main traits of positive people is that they know how to put themselves first and they know how to say no to people.

Some people consider that selfish. Wrong. It’s smart. Sure, we should all be loving and kind people, but at times we have to say sod it and take the day for ourselves.

So get this straight:

You deserve to be able to put yourself first.

  • Yes, ahead of your family.
  • Yes, ahead of your friends.
  • Yes, ahead of your job.
  • Because your life is your life.

[bctt tweet=”Your life is your own. Stop living it for other people and start living for yourself” username=”t_d_meditation”]



Are you too kind to other people?

Ask yourself these questions to determine if you’re too kind to other people:

Do your friends give you as much as you give them (be honest)?

Does your husband / wife show as much love and kindness to you as you do to them?

Are your relationships equal, or are you giving everything and getting nothing?

If you answered No to the questions above, it might be time to learn a few ways to put yourself first.





How To Put Yourself First In Life 

You know it. I know it. You need to put yourself first.

Here’s how.

1. Write a list of things you would do if you put yourself first

If you’re going to put yourself first, you need to decide on some specific ways to put yourself first.

This might be difficult, because many of us have learnt to be bullies to ourselves. As Laci Mosier says on Wanderlust “We’re taught to be kind to others from the very beginning, but all too often we leave ourselves off the list. Without even realizing it, we can be our biggest bully and greatest adversary.”

That’s why you need to decide some ways to be kind to yourself.

Go ahead and write a list of things you would like to do this week. Schedule them. Write them down.

Do it now. Right now.

No, don’t continue reading, I want you to genuinely do this right now. Write your list this second. Because by the time you get to the end of this article I want you to already be putting yourself first.

  • So, write your list of ways to put yourself first.

Here’s how:

  1. Write a list of 5 things you want to do
  2. Next to each item write down why it won’t happen. (for instance: “I want to go to the cinema with my husband but he won’t want to go”)
  3. Write down why the reasons for going are more important than the reasons for not going (“It’s important to go to the cinema because we need to spend time together chilling out for our relationship”).
  4. Now imagine the reason why it wont happen (for instance, imagine your husband telling you he doesn’t want to go)
  5. Now imagine yourself demanding what you want (imagine telling your husband tough squat, the two of you are going)
  6. If your husband has an issue with this, send him my way.



2. Say no to any situation here you’d be putting yourself last

If you’re a people pleaser, you’ve likely faced many situations where you’ve been asked to do something you don’t want to do

“Can you cover my shift?” your friend asks, knowing that you’ve got plans. “Sure,” you usually say, because you’re a people pleaser and you put everyone else first.

Normally you just agree with them, probably because you have insecure attachment.

This time you’re going to say no to them. You are not going to put yourself last. You are going to put yourself first for a change.

“No I can’t cover your shift because I have to do…”.

When you’ve learnt to put others before yourself it can be hard to say no, because saying no means putting yourself first, before the needs of the other person.

Well, tough cookie matie, because your needs matter and you need to fight for them.

Challenge yourself to say no to 5 requests this week. And if you feel worried or afraid to say no, then read this guide to overcoming fear.

Writing for TinyBuddha, Kelly Hodgson says:

“List all of the things that you’ve done over the past three to six months that you didn’t want to do.

“Once you have your list, go through and write down the reasons that you didn’t want to do each thing. You will probably notice some recurring reasons; for example, it cut into my time with my family, it made me too tired, it wasn’t something I was comfortable doing because…

“Use these reasons to start setting some boundaries for yourself.”



3. Use a mantra or affirmation 

Mantras are a wonderful way to train yourself to think differently.

Mantras are simple repetitions of words.

By repeating the mantra “I am putting myself first” you will train your brain to do precisely that.

So choose a mantra:

  • “Me first,”
  • “I am prioritising myself”
  • “I come first”

… repeat that mantra to yourself and start to believe that your needs truly do come first.



4. Loving Kindness Meditation

Sometimes, the reason you’re unwilling to put yourself first is because deep down you believe you don’t deserve to be put first.

Reality check: you deserve the best.

You deserve to put yourself first. And if you disagree, you need to change your mind. You need to learn to love yourself as much as you love everyone else.

The most potent tool for developing self love is a specific meditation technique. It’s called Loving Kindness Meditation.  I’ve create a guide to get you started. Just click the link.

Click that link (above) now so you can start loving yourself today. Then, once you truly love yourself, you will start to put yourself first more often (while still being kind and generous to other people too).

This is a win / win because self love will make you happy, and your happiness will inspire other people to be happy too.

Remember, say yes to you. Say no to other people (when their requests do not benefit you).



5. Actually tell other people that you are putting yourself first for a change because you deserve it.

Have you ever noticed that when you say your thoughts out loud they become more real?

That’s why you’re going to tell people that you are putting yourself first.

In fact, you’re going to specifically tell them the ways in which you’re putting yourself first.

In step 1 we wrote a list of ways to put yourself first. Share that list with close friends and family. Tell them the things you are going to be doing, the thing you’re doing just because you yourself want to do them.

Here’s how:

  1. Share this post on Facebook
  2. Above the post write a comment saying “I am putting myself first”.
  3. On the comment, list 5 ways you are putting yourself first.
  4. I know this will be a challenge for you. I also know it will be a total game-changer in your life. Do it.

You’re probably wondering how people will react.

Newsflash: Different people will react to this in different ways.

Some of the people you share your list with will say, “Great. I’m glad you’re finally putting yourself first because you deserve it”. Others will try and hold you back. If (God forbid) you’re in a bad relationship, your significant other may fight to prevent you from doing what you want to do, because they believe you’re there to serve them.

If you are in a really bad relationship they will use gaslighting tactics on you to stop you from putting yourself first. (Read the link and I will show you how to stop this from happening).

If anyone tells you you cannot put yourself first, fudge them.

You are here to serve yourself. You are here to put yourself first. So if anyone tells you that you shouldn’t be doing what you want to do, tell them to go and fudge themselves.

Ha! Don’t actually tell them to fudge themselves. But do rationally explain to them why you’re doing the things you want to do, and do tell them that from now on, they can expect to see a new you, a you that puts yourself first.

And that is how you can put yourself first today.

Now over to you.

What ways are you putting yourself first? Have you been having fun putting yourself first? How do you feel after putting yourself first?

Leave a comment and remember to subscribe to our newsletter.


Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book: Your Best Meditation