What Putting Yourself First Looks Like

When you’re feeling stretched too thin, tapped out, or unenthused, it might be time to do a quick life audit. Are you putting yourself first? Or are everyone else’s needs and wants coming before your own? It can start with good intentions, for sure. Many of us were taught that selflessness is a virtue. Unfortunately, that’s turned us into a bunch of people-pleasers who are in desperate need of recovery. 

The problem with people-pleasing is it turns into really unpleasant things inside of us: like depression, anger, and overall unfulfillment. Yet, many of us are reluctant to put ourselves first because we feel we’re being selfish. We wind up way too busy and often, our efforts aren’t even fully appreciated by those who benefit from them. 

When we take care of ourselves first - in a healthy way - we are ready and willing to show up for those we love and for the goals we care about. We can do it with robust amounts of time, energy, money, mental clarity, and emotional intelligence. And, we don’t need anyone else to appreciate it because it is fulfilling no matter what! I would much rather show up that way for my people. I would also rather they show up that way for me!

So, what does it look like to put yourself first in a healthy way? First, let’s talk about what is not healthy. There are some people who put themselves first in crooked ways. (I think that’s why many are hesitant to quit people-pleasing. They associate it with the following characters.)


You can’t trust a Schemer. They do put themselves first, but at the expense of others. They’re dishonest and always up to something, but you’re not sure what. They’re fine with exploiting someone to get what they want. They look out for Number One, but only Number One.


A Shirker won’t accept responsibility. At all. They’ll ignore important tasks and hope someone else does them. They’re inattentive to their loved ones. They’re the type of folks you don’t want to be stuck with in a group project! This type of selfishness doesn’t contribute to the greater good, only to the whims of the individual in the moment.

Ego Tripper

This guy. An Ego Tripper has one view of the world: Their own. They will not see it from your perspective. They don’t really care about your experience. They’ve got blinders on and from their perspective, everyone is either with them or against them. They look out for themselves – and really can’t see anything else.

OK, so now we are clear that NONE of the above are what we mean by putting yourself first, let’s talk about what it really looks like to do so in a healthy way. 

When you put yourself first, imagine filling up a tea pot (or coffee). When it’s full, there is plenty to share with those you love. Every time you do something that elevates you, it makes it easier to elevate others. Examples of ways to fill up your tea pot are:

  • An hour to exercise alone 3-5 days a week.
  • A night out without your kiddos.
  • Time to work on a project you love – art, music, pottery, etc.
  • A full 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Budget to shop for healthy food.
  • A career that is fulfilling.
  • At least two nights per week with no obligations.

These are all just examples and they’ll be different for everyone. 

Putting yourself first doesn’t mean you’ll never have to do hard things. You’ll still have to do your taxes and the dishes and have tough conversations sometimes. But those hard things will be part of a bigger, grander picture that you are personally creating! Your life will be based around your own goals, not pleasing others or trying to prevent them from getting mad at you.

To help you get started in your people-pleasing recovery, we are sending out some love letters in the form of e-mails this month to help you hone in on what you can do to put yourself first and show up as a more-rested, happier, fulfilled version of yourself to address the tasks at hand. You can sign up for those love letters here.

See ya in your inbox.

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