Sometimes in life, we’re faced with difficult decisions where we have to choose between what’s best for ourselves and what’s best for others.
When it comes to making these kinds of decisions, I have a really hard time choosing myself over others. In some cases, that’s not a bad thing. In others, though, we need to be able to prioritize ourselves.
Let’s say a friend or family member asks for a favor. Maybe they need a ride somewhere or help moving or assistance on a project. If someone needs help, of course, I will choose to help them when I can. In that type of situation, choosing others over myself is obviously a good thing. I’m helping someone, and I’m not being negatively impacted in the process.
When I say it’s important to prioritize yourself, these scenarios aren’t what I’m talking about. Imagine you’re in a situation in which you’re held to a certain level of expectation, but meeting those expectations is causing you either emotional or physical harm. Maybe you enrolled in too many classes one semester, and you’re expected to be able to complete all of them, but it’s simply too much work. In that case, you have to choose yourself over the professor. Maybe you’re in a toxic relationship or friendship, and the only way to get out of it is to let them down. Of course, you have to choose yourself and your own mental and physical well-being in that case.
These are the moments I struggle with prioritizing myself over others. I’ve been in situations where my mental and/or physical health have been in serious danger, but I was so afraid of letting someone down that I couldn’t stand up for myself. Even telling my rental management company that I’m not renewing my lease was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do, and there’s absolutely no reason I should feel bad about wanting to move somewhere else. My perfectionist self wants everyone to like me all the time, though, and the thought of disappointing anyone for any reason is terrifying to me.
For a very long time, if I was ever in a situation where I had to either let someone else down or let my own health suffer, I would always choose to let myself suffer. Rather than deal with the discomfort of disappointing someone for a brief moment, I would choose to live in discomfort indefinitely if it meant not having to let someone else down.
Of course, that’s not a healthy way to live, and it’s not very self-loving or self-respecting. As I’ve continued my self-care journey, I’ve learned how to love and respect myself more. With that newfound love and respect for myself comes the understanding that sometimes, I need to make that uncomfortable choice to prioritize myself, even if it means letting someone else down.
It is okay to love yourself. It is okay to respect yourself. It is okay to prioritize yourself.
Stay healthy. Stay safe.