And other excuses that you can excuse for good.
When I feel something, I assume that there are other people who feel the same. That’s one reason I try to talk about stuff that is real to me, and share insights as they come, hoping that they will help illuminate something for you too.
Most people I am close to describe me using words like angel, godsend, sweetheart, etc. And I definitely love helping people, being kind, empathetic and ever-patient. It is more than part of my persona, but the whole motivation for everything I do. On the flipside, I know that sometimes being everything to everyone can mean that I either spread myself too thin, fall completely out of touch with people I care about, and ultimately neglect what I really want to do. Even though I have had those close to me tell me they often assume I am ‘too busy’. I hate that I give that impression. Yet, I do know, without a doubt that putting others first (read into that how you will- in thoughts, in actions, at the expense of myself) is ultimately no good for me, and no good for them.
This topic has been in my heart a little while because I have to constantly talk to myself to make sure I am doing right by me. The worst thing is that even when I know without a doubt that I need to look after myself, when it comes to catering to the interests of others, I still need to listen to (and talk to!) the excuses that pop into my brain. If you are a bit of a go-getter or have worked on your self-esteem, you may relate to my number one worst culprit of an excuse!
Excuse Number One: I am awesome and can handle anything!
Yep. My inner cheerleader actually turns positive affirmations into excuses for me straining myself to the point of self-neglect or excessive stress. Over the years, I have developed the understanding that I, like everyone, am capable of whatever I put my mind and effort into. I also have accumulated lots of evidence that suggests I can do a lot, manage high intensity periods of time, and still feel fulfilled and happy at the end of the day. What’s something else for someone else?
I don’t just want to handle anything. I would like to be more discriminate than that. So when I am putting someone else’s needs first with the excuse ‘I can handle anything’, I can quickly ask the question ‘Is it best for me to handle this?’
I can’t tell you enough how much this question also destroys many of the other excuses you’ll read about below. It’s also a question with a double meaning, depending on how you read the connotation. Is it ‘best for me’ can mean, ‘Is it good for ME’ or it can be read as ‘Am I the best person to do this?’ Often if there is something you are doing for someone else, it is probably more meaningful for that person to do it themselves, or to find someone who will love every second of it. This could apply to anything, from handling your aunty's social media presence, to cleaning up after a spouse, to meeting a ridiculous deadline at work at the expense of eating well.
If you tell yourself that you are amazing and can therefore can do more for others rather than yourself, then perhaps you could use this little reframe of a question. Please, please let me know in the comments if you are making this excuse, because I’ve never told a soul about this one and have no idea if I am out on a limb here!
Excuse Number Two: It is more important to them than it is to me. (The evil spawn of excuse number one).
It is more important to my husband that I eat the delicious chocolate sundae he made for me than it is for me to say no in this moment and stick to my no-dairy diet. I’m not saying this has happened, but I’m not saying something like this has not happened.
If you are a ‘nice’ girl or guy, you might too find yourself relenting to the will of others, perhaps in the nice-guy/girl justification that if this makes someone happy, and you can live with it, then it is right to put their needs first. You certainly can do things to make others feel good and happy- that is a beautiful thing. This is more for those who use this excuse to mask feeling temporarily underwhelmed, bad, strained, stressed, etc. In the case of the husband making the wife a dairy-rich delight, the wife is eating it only to make him feel good. She will deal with the bit of guilt in that moment, which in the scheme of things may not seem like much, but it is one more promise she didn’t keep for herself because she put someone’s need to feel acknowledged ahead of her own intention.
I daresay that parents may feel this with children. I only can imagine this because of my furbaby and how easy it is for me to say, ‘He needs a walk now’, ‘my stuff can wait because he is too excited’. If you feel responsible for someone else, I know that this is less simple, so the suggestion I would give is that if you feel like you are neglecting what you need, something needs to change. Maybe it is simple after all?
The only way to counter this is hardcore assertiveness in how you talk to yourself and to other people.
I need to do this for me, before I can even think about bending over backwards for someone else.
My needs are always important.
If things continue this way, I wouldn’t feel good. I need to do what is right for me!
Excuse Number Three: This Will Make Me a Bad Person (and therefore less likeable & valuable in this world)
Or less of a good person. After all, isn’t it my mission to help people? If I was ever going to define a ‘bad person’, it would be; bad person (phrase): someone who deliberately relishes in hurting other people. If that isn’t you, then you can drop that excuse. You wouldn’t tell your best friend that he/she is a bad person for putting their needs first.
If you ever consider your value to others, just stay cognisant of the fact there is nothing wrong with catering to the needs of others, being kind, doing favours and giving- as long as you are not neglecting yourself in the process!
If you love helping others, just use this simple question to get you thinking about you! What am I doing for ME today?
Excuse Number Four: But I Love Giving!
'Give to yourself more, girlfriend', says me to me. You know that you are making the most positive impact when you are all taken care of.
Excuse Number Five: But When I Put Others First, Everything Turns Out Amazing for Them (or the evil twin of excuse number one)
Ego needs a smackdown here. If you didn’t get involved in putting that person first, someone else would do what needs to be done- probably better. It also isn’t as sweet as you think, because that person is going to attribute good things to you and not him or herself. I need this one as a reminder when I stay up late checking student drafts. If I back off, (and get the precious sleep I need), they will better learn to cope alone, or hire a tutor!
Excuse Number Six: Who Am I to Ask for More? Who Am I to Put Myself Over Others?
You will never know ‘who you are’ unless you give yourself a chance to grow by nurturing yourself and deeming the times you choose YOU as sacred and utterly necessary. Ask for more.
The Truth of the Matter
It doesn’t always matter what you tell yourself when you put others’ needs over your own. The actions you take will be reinforce in your subconscious mind, so even if you say ‘I’m awesome and can handle this!’ your mind hears one message loud and clear- ‘I don’t put my needs first’ or even worse ‘My needs are not important’.
Go ahead and let me know if any of this resonates with you and what you intend to do about it. You can leave a comment or get in touch if you are on my email list. I hope you get the message that even if you are kind and caring person, you need to literally look after yourself FIRST, before you attend to others. Just like at the scene of an accident you need to check your safety first. Same thing.
So which excuse comes up the most for you if you really think about it? Any that aren’t here? Would love to know.
Lots of love and letting you know that you are number one to you!
Want more of a picture as to how it may look to put yourself first? Click here!
PS. In case I didn't make it clear, you can be abundantly kind and generous and humble and loving to others as often as your dear heart desires. Just show yourself that love first. It's magic.