by Theresa Ho

Admit it.

You’re the type of person who doesn’t like being called selfish.

You like to be the go-to person, the fixer-upper and the peacemaker.

You worry about what others will think of you if you put yourself first.  You feel guilty when you say “no”.

You imagine what your life will be like if you do put yourself first, but struggling with not knowing how others are going to react.  You are afraid people may start to dislike you.

Well, you’re right.

Some people may start to dislike you, but I can guarantee not everyone will stop liking you.  The ones who truly appreciate you and understand the give and take balance will stick around.  And those who don’t are the ones you weed out in your life so that you can have more energy and time to replenish yourself to give to the people and activities that matter to you in life.

You see I was raised in a culture where speaking my mind and sharing my feelings was frowned upon.

To be loved and accepted, I needed to excel in education, mask my imperfections and not trouble others with my woes, as people would think I am weak and undesirable. This impacted my life, specifically when it came to relationships.

I had a hard time trusting people and letting people into my life fully. I was afraid of being judged if I wasn’t able to meet up to other people’s expectation giving them a glimpse of my flaws yet, I would judge others if they didn’t live up to mine. It was a vicious circle.

I would also often compare myself to others, which made me miserable.

Eventually, this led me to not wanting to get up in the morning because I didn’t want to participate in the charade of life. I was mentally exhausted.

Luckily, my parents saw the severity of my unhappiness and said to me one day, “your happiness is more important than what we think or expect of you.  Please do whatever you need to do to make yourself happy.

That was the turning point in my life, where I decided I am going to put my needs first.  In doing so, I was able to shift other areas of my life for the better, because I was happier and was able to give more willingly, where I gave it my all but not give  it (my time and energy) all away.

Now, I know some of you might think well you are lucky to have parents who understand.  

That is true. But this doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle from time to time in communicating and not being able to see things eye to eye with them.

Instead, I’ve realized we may never understand or see eye to eye on certain things but if we truly love someone, the best we can do is respect their choices so long as it makes them happy.

Because deep down do you believe your loved ones would rather see you be happy than miserable?

Yes, certainly as you change you’ll stir things up and it may take time for them to adjust and understand but in the end when the decision you make leads you to be happier that’s what life is about isn’t it?

So if you are ready, it’s time to kick the habit of shouldering obligations.

Here are 5 reasons why you need to take care of your needs first.

  1. You will be more successful and gain more respect

When you say yes to everything, people will think you don’t have a backbone.  It can be seemingly unattractive when it comes to navigating your dating life and your work life.

As I mentioned, I use to be the biggest people-pleaser!

Along the way I was an emotional wreck and lost myself in the process.  It hurt my relationships and the opportunities of being seen as a leader in work.

In my dating life the guy would fall out of love with the girl who used to have her own life because I became dependent on him for my happiness.  And at work, not only could I not say no, I’d be afraid to ask for a raise or a promotion hoping someone would see what I am doing and speak for me.

The thing is if you don’t respect, speak up for yourself who will?  You make it easy for people who take all the time to start taking advantage of you.  This leads me to the next point.

  1. You’ll have better relationships

When you say yes to yourself and take care of our own needs first, it shows that you are not afraid to make yourself a priority.

It also gives the people in your life the permission to take time for themselves to recharge. So when you get together with your friends, family, partner, you both will be rejuvenated and are able to give from your overflow the attention and support each other needs. After all wouldn’t you rather be in the company of someone who is healthy, happy and not stressed?

  1. You will be more productive

Your mind and body works more effectively and creatively when you find time to give yourself some love and the care you need to unwind and de-stress.

Since you are in a better headspace you will be able to think more clearly enabling you to deal with problems more easily and effortlessly. The work you put out will be from a place where you are as your best self.

  1. You Will Burn Out If You Don’t

If you give, give and give, you will eventually burn out physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually that you will have nothing to give at the end of the day.  You’ll be living an unhealthy lifestyle.

If you don’t have your health, how are you going to spread your wealth in whatever form it takes? Like a car, you need to maintain yourself so that you don’t break down along the way.

  1. You Become Dependent On You For Your Own Happiness.

When you are in control of filling up your own love tank, you will be happier.

Think of yourself as your own bouncer. You have the power to choose let in people, activities and things that are positive and energize your soul desires. That elevate and fires up your life party.  You say no to all other things that drain and brings down the party.

Being human, sometimes we do slip up, we make wrong choices, forget to take care of ourselves when things are difficult as we try to juggle what we’ve got going on. When this happens and you become aware of what’s going on, learn from the lessons and forgive yourself. Know at any moment you can choose to change your thoughts, change your focus to get back in flow with what your mind, body and soul needs to create the life you want to experience. This is what ‘healthy selfishness’ is all about.

It’s time to take responsibility for getting your own needs met.  What are you waiting for?


Theresa Ho is the Founder of HappyFreeLifestyle. She’s an 80’s music lovin’, freedom lovin’ wellness expert sent to help people travel to recharge from their daily grind. Get ideas for your next getaway and tips on how to stay well HERE. For more inspiration visit her on Instagram @happyfreelifestyle and Facebook.   

* Photo credit Unsplash