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Why ”Putting Yourself First” is Not Selfish

October 3, 2014

For years we’ve been told that we should put the needs of everyone else before our own. We hear that message everywhere. I have struggled with the feeling of selfishness whenever I do something for myself.

I recently read an article in the ” Best for Women” magazine published by Soroptimist Intl, that changed my viewpoint on this subject. In the article, Patricia Donoghue uses the example of the oxygen masks on an airline. We’re told to put on our own masks first, then help those around us. Why do the airlines tell us this? Because we can’t help anyone else if we’re suffocating!

What we’ve lost over the years is a sense of self. We’ve become so fixated on helping others that we’ve let ourselves wither away. How can we help others if we’re not taking care of ourselves? What good are we to others if we are stressed beyond our limits, or fall ill because we’ve pushed ourselves way to hard?

This doesn’t mean that we should not do for others. I’m saying the exact opposite. We need to keep ourselves healthy and stress free, so that we CAN do for others! We need to learn that saying ”no” is sometimes a healthy response.

Finding the balance is the difficult part. That balance is different for different people, including me. Every day, I struggle to figure it out.  There’s no magic formula, no single correct way to do it. What I DO know is that you have to take care of yourself first, and then you’ll be healthy enough to help others around you!

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