Updated: Apr 4
I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge you.
When I look at this image, I see so many things that we are all easily able to do and think for, and about, other people. But, we seldom do or think these things for, or about, ourselves.
YOU are worthy of all these things.
YOU are important.
YOU deserve to have all of this.
YOU first is not always selfish; sometimes it's self-preservation, and completely necessary.
There are many words of wisdom about putting ourselves first at times (think: airplane oxygen mask analogy*).
And, I know - trust me - I KNOW! It feels really awkward and uncomfortable sometimes to put myself first before others. Sometimes, I sit down and consciously think about what it would be like in a certain situation to put myself first, and I honestly don't know how I would do that or what it would be like.
I used to only realize I'd put myself *not first* after the fact; when I'd find myself seething with resentment or frustrated that my significant other (or any other person in relationship) didn't seem to care that I was overwhelmed and wasn't swooping in to save me. I would lose it.
Now, granted this only happened maybe once or twice a decade, but that was plenty. And, as I became more aware of myself and my needs, and could start to identify that I was feeling overwhelmed and needed something, I started noticing the pattern emerge that when I was overwhelmed and needed something or even just a break, the final straw would be for someone close to me to be enjoying themselves in some way. It took a lot of soul-searching to realize that I was jealous of them being able to enjoy themselves when I was over here overwhelmed and struggling and not even able to take a break (in my mind/opinion/narrative). My marriage has been especially helpful in pointing out to me that this is, in fact, a pattern of mine, and not just my husband being uncaring (sorry, my love!). Not to say that there isn't a societal imbalance of household care that seems to be managed by the women of the household, but as usual, my musings generate another topic for another day.
I've come a long way in identifying my needs and preventing the blowups, which has helped both me and my marriage and other relationships. And as I've tried to move toward greater understanding and growth, I've even asked other people who seem to be good at this - or at least better than I am - at putting their needs first. I often get an answer along the lines of "I don't know, I just go for what I want". Which seems simple. And amazing. And unheard of to me, at times! But, I think that gaining awareness about it, and consciously thinking about how to do this helps.
*The airplane oxygen mask analogy, in case you don't know it, is that if you're on an airplane and the oxygen mask is required, you need to put yours on first (the flight attendants actually instruct this) before putting one on anyone else - a child, a spouse, etc. It doesn't matter who or what it is. The thinking seems to be along the lines that you can't help someone else if you're passed out from lack of oxygen yourself.