Reliability and consideration are critical in healthy relationships. Having people to care for who also take care of you is something we all seek out. The desire that we have for companionship, however, might result in putting the needs of others in front of our own. While being considerate of the needs and feelings of others is important, taking care of your needs is also necessary. It can feel unnatural or even selfish to focus on yourself, which can make you feel guilty.
Unfortunately, focusing on yourself can be hard because putting yourself first is often associated with selfishness. We might feel riddled with guilt whenever we tell a loved one “no” or try carving out time for ourselves. Some people might even struggle to say “no” at all out of fear of disappointing others.
Focusing on yourself can feel selfish at first, and it may even seem that way to others as well. But it’s not! It’s important to prioritize your own needs and desires in order to avoid damaging your mental well-being.
If you’re someone who feels guilty for focusing on themselves, these are a few tips that could help.
Shift your thinking about selfishness
To stop feeling guilty when focusing on yourself, try thinking of putting yourself first as an important coping skill rather than something selfish. It’s important to remind yourself that there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing yourself, especially if you’re someone who is used to putting the needs of others before your own.
Consistently neglecting your own needs and desires for the sake of others can eventually take a toll on your mental well-being, and leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. If you’re burnt out and exhausted, it will be difficult to show up for others.
Remind yourself that you are not responsible for the health or happiness of everyone else, but you are responsible for your own. Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Shifting the way you think about focusing on yourself from selfish to self-improvement can alleviate guilt and other negative feelings you might have about putting yourself first.
Get to know yourself
Those who constantly put the needs of their friends and loved ones before their own may struggle to identify their own needs or have trouble separating them from the needs of others. Feelings of uncertainty regarding your identity can have adverse effects on your emotional well-being and the way you see your relationships.
Taking time to get to know yourself can help you figure out what those needs are and eventually allow you to focus on yourself without feeling guilty.
Journaling daily can be a good way to learn more about yourself. By logging your emotions through the day or making lists of likes and dislikes, you will eventually be able to better identify your own needs and life goals that are separate from friends, family, and loved ones.
As you start to embrace the concept of focusing on yourself as a form of self-care, it’s important to figure out what self-care is to you. Self-care is necessary for everyone but it does not look the same for everybody. Some people find comfort in exercise or meditation. Others spend time in nature or lose themselves in a book. There are countless other ways to practice self-care that allow you to focus on yourself without feeling guilty.
Carving out time for your favorite hobbies and activities is also a great way to focus on yourself. In relationships, it’s easy to fall into the habit of spending most of your time together or doing things you both enjoy. And while spending time with a loved one and sharing interests is important, it’s also important to take time out for things you enjoy on your own. If you don’t carve out time to focus on yourself from time to time, you can end up feeling resentful and frustrated with your partner.
Find a balance
There’s nothing wrong with focusing on yourself while you’re in a relationship or part of a tight-knit family. It gives you a chance to be yourself and to reset to be better able to care for your loved ones. There is, however, a fine line between self-care and selfishness. Pursuing your own wants and needs is essential to your mental well-being, but you must not forget to be cognizant of the needs of others or those relationships will falter. Focusing on yourself while still acting selflessly can be tricky but not impossible. Finding that balance requires consistency and communication.
There’s no rule that says self-care has to be practiced all by yourself! Practicing self-care with others is a good way to incorporate the people you love with activities you love. Try going to the movies with your partner, or a park with friends to catch up. Despite the social aspect, these are still forms of self-care.
Reach out for support
Focusing on yourself, your loved ones, and daily responsibilities can be difficult to balance. If you’re someone who feels guilty about focusing on yourself, try speaking to a loved one or close friend about how you’re feeling.
Communicating your need for alone time to a loved one might sound scary at first, but it’s more likely than not that person will be considerate of your feelings and offer help. Through communication, you can figure out how to better support each other, like splitting chores or designating a day of self-care for yourself. This will help to set healthy boundaries between you and your significant other and alleviate tension or friction you might feel with each other.
Speaking with a mental health professional can also help you focus on yourself. They can help alleviate feelings of guilt you might feel for wanting to put yourself first. Individual counseling with a therapist can be a powerful way to focus on yourself and work through feelings of guilt for doing so. Our team of experienced clinicians specializes in providing individual counseling and is currently accepting new clients. Don’t hesitate to reach out today to get started on your journey towards prioritizing yourself in a healthy, supportive way.