Putting Yourself First

By Jenn Rockefeller

If you’re like me, you’re someone who thinks of others more often than you think of yourself. Even before my situation, I always liked to do things for other people. That was just one of my traits that my abuser exploited.

As domestic violence survivors, we are so accustomed to putting others first. So how can we, in our healing journeys, prioritize ourselves? How can we get out of the habit of thinking that doing something for ourselves is selfish?

Below are just some ways to put yourself first:

Say no

Are you someone who says yes all the time? Well, now is the perfect time to learn to start saying no. It will be tough at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will get. Saying no will allow you the time to devote to yourself, which you can use for self-care or spending time on other goals and hobbies. It’s not selfish when you start saying no, it just means you are prioritizing yourself and your happiness.

Stay consistent

When you make the decision to put yourself first, you need to continue to do so. Stepping back into your old ways won’t build good habits for the future. But keep in mind that it is okay to fail at something and try again. Keep trying and remember that you are a work in progress.

Remember your why

This is something that I’ve learned over the years in my healing journey. What is your “why?” What is the reason you are doing what you are doing? My “why” is my children. They are the reason I got a better job–so that I can save money to see them and afford to get them more than just a few gifts for birthdays or holidays. When you can remember your why, you are more likely to put yourself first.

Check-in with yourself

According to Elite Daily, you need to check in with your own well-being every once in a while. “How are you feeling physically? How about mentally? Are you exhausted from the to-dos already getting checked off your daily list? When was the last time you went to bed at a reasonable hour, or watched your favorite TV show?” We can’t give to others when we aren’t giving to ourselves. It’s like the safety tip the airline attendants give on planes before a flight – help yourself first (with the oxygen mask) before you help your neighbor.

So why is it a good thing to put yourself first?

First and foremost, putting ourselves first means that we care about our own well-being. We can’t give to others when we exhaust ourselves in every sense of the word. It’s like that old adage says, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

Putting ourselves first is important because we are showing that we love ourselves too. When we give time and energy to ourselves, we are ensuring that we will be as productive as possible. For example, when you ensure you get a good night’s sleep, you are more awake and prepared for work or school the next day.

It’s also a good thing to put yourself first because when you do so, you are allowing time to get to know yourself again. And when you know yourself better, you are more likely to value yourself, your opinions, your thoughts, and your time.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.

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