In life there will be situations where you’re confronted with the decision to either do something for yourself and take care of your own needs, or do something for somebody else and help them take care of their needs. You can’t do both. You have to make a choice.
I believe there is no universal right choice in such situations. The right choice varies from one case to another. But I do know that many times, the right choice will be to put your own needs first and do what serves you best.
For many of us, this isn’t an easy thing to do. When we do something for us, instead of doing something for others, we feel bad.
Whether it’s buying something nice for ourselves instead of buying a present for our partner, or declining a colleague’s request to stay overtime at work to help them with a project, it can make us feel very guilty. And many times, in anticipation of the guilt we’ll feel, we won’t choose to put ourselves first.
In such situations, your mindset plays a crucial role. Having the right mindset will make it much easier to make the choice that’s aligned with your own needs, and it will eliminate any feelings of guilt about it.
With this in mind, and based on my experience as a confidence coach, I’d like to show you 4 mindsets to practice that are very effective in allowing you to put yourself first without remorse.
Mindset no. 1: “It’s my right to put my needs first.”
Many times we find it hard to put our needs first because we don’t feel entitled to it. We believe he have an obligation to help other people no matter what, but not an obligation to help ourselves.
I believe this is a highly erroneous perception. In coaching, I often tell clients, who have this perception, that they were not put on this earth to put anybody’s needs above their own.
Their entire physiology and psychology create a complex system designed with the main purpose of helping them survive, thrive and replicate.
Helping others comes mainly as part of a social contract, where you collaborate with others so that you both end up better off. So even that is mostly self-interested.
This can be a hard idea to accept, but it’s true. And this is why you have the right to put your needs first.
Mindset no. 2: “Putting my needs first doesn’t make me a bad person.”
In society, we learn to make negative judgment calls about people who put themselves first. We call them bad people; we call them selfish; we call them all sorts of things meant to make them feel guilty.
But these are mostly empty words and stereotypes. They mean very little. Good and bad, selfish and altruist, are all very relative terms and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Can you honestly say that a person who, for instance, donated millions to charity, but refuses to give money to beggars on a street is a bad person? I think that’s a very narrow-minded way of seeing things.
So the best thing you can do is to discard such labels, admit that putting your needs first doesn’t make you a bad person, and just look at taking care of your own needs for what it is: a simple behavior. No more, no less.
Mindset no. 3: “Others will understand my choice.”
I was recently coaching a client who had a maid and he wanted to end her services because his sister had just moved in with him. Since she didn’t have a job, she could easily do all the cleaning in the apartment.
But he was afraid the maid wouldn’t understand his choice and that she would get upset.
I suggested to him that this fear of his was based solely on speculation, I gave him some advice on how to terminate his maid, and encouraged him to do it and see what would really happen.
The next time we talked, he was very excited because he had done it, and his maid seemed to really understand his choice. And although it wasn’t ideal for her, she accepted it without any sort of complaint or anger. It was a real eye-opener for him.
This is a very common occurrence. Many of us anticipate that if we put our needs first, others won’t understand and they will get really upset.
But the truth is that while this does happen occasionally, it’s not often. The more you put your needs first, the more you’ll realize this. So it makes sense to think that others will generally understand your choices.
Mindset no.4: “Putting my needs first will make me better at helping others.”
Frequently it’s wise to put your needs first, because that helps you grow as a person, and enables you to help other people even more.
Say that instead of giving money to others, you save that money and use it to get some higher education and training, and then based on it you become a highly competent doctor.
You will probably be very valuable to society as a doctor, much more valuable than your money would have been if you would have just given it away.
There is a time when it’s best to focus on you as a person and do what helps you become a more able person. Later you can focus on giving, and what you can give has a lot more worth. Bear this in mind.
So there you have it. These are the 4 mindsets.
Now it’s your job to apply them. Whenever you want to do something for yourself and know it’s the right choice, but feelings of guilt still flow though your body, think about these powerful ideas and they will help you wipe out the guilt.
As you use these mindsets, over and over again, they will become a part of you. You will feel better about yourself and more entitled to pursuing your own happiness.
You will worry less about what others think of your actions and be more relaxed, while maintaining a genuine and balanced desire to help others.
It’s an amazing place to be in.