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  • Atiya Pope

Selfish or Self First?

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.

--Hardy D. Jackson

“This above all, to thine own self be true” – Polonius to Laertes (Hamlet, Act-1, Scene-III, 78–82)

—William Shakespeare


Every day, every single one of us has to put energy into daily living. Getting up, getting ready for the day, caring for your families’ needs, going to work or running errands. Be honest when was the last time that you actually made time to sit and do nothing so that you can have a complete thought even after asking, “Can I please have a complete thought for once?”. Sometimes it is almost laughable if you have many responsibilities because “they need me”. You may feel that doing something for yourself will be selfish because it could be taking from other areas of your life. However, it is so important to understand the difference between being selfish and self-first.


Selfish means lacking consideration for others or concerned mainly with your own personal profit or pleasure. Most people who have several obligations have a tendency to believe that they are not considering others and will therefore put themselves on the back burner. Self-first means that you as an individual need to be cared for and love just like everyone else. It is okay to be feel that you deserve to be cared for and loved just as much as you do others. It is okay to be a family person, caretaker or employee and still be yourself.

Self-first is more than simply going shopping, getting massage or even going to the gym, it’s helping others to understand that your well-being is important too. As such, you should remember the following:


· No…No?! what do you mean no! Saying no is important in order for you to be able to concentrate on you. IT IS OKAY TO SAY NO SOMETIMES! If you are giving all of your time and energy to everyone else, what else is there left for or of you? Saying no will not be easy in the beginning and it will certainly feel uncomfortable, but try this. Say no to every invite to go out to dinner with friends, delay responding to phone calls/texts (unless there is an emergency of course) one whole week and concentrate on yourself. After a week you may feel less obligated to do things or go places that you do not want to do.

· Way a minute, you mean my problem is not most important to you? Set your priorities and set boundaries and stick with them. Plan your day around the priorities that you have set, not around what others have set for you.

· Consistency…how? Let’s be honest, you cannot say that you are going to begin putting yourself first and then remain in your same routine of being the main go to person. Being true to yourself and goals can help you form habits while conditioning other to understand your boundaries.

· I am doing this because…..? Remember why you are doing whatever you doing when you are being self-first. You have things you want to do and goals that you want to achieve. Keep your eye on the prize.

· But will they understand? The people who know you will understand that sometimes you need a breather or a break.

Being self-first is not no longer worrying about others (i.e. family or job responsibilities or friends). It is merely taking time out for you and you believing that it is okay. Be dedicated to your own happiness and well-being so that you can take care of others.


Are you ready to learn how to put yourself first? You can make an appointment online or you can contact SHI Mental Health Counseling LLC at 215-705-8573

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