Short answer: Yes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Think about airplane safety, and how they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs. Even your kids! You need to put on your mask before you help your kids put on their masks. Does this mean you are letting your children down? Does this mean you do not love your children? Does this mean you are selfish?
It means you are responsible for taking care of your own needs before you can adequately help others with theirs.
The same is true of your personal needs in everyday, non-plane-crash life.
And not just needs like food, water, sleep, and bathing. Your needs also include friendship, community, creative expression, spirituality, and fun.
My hot take: Fun and play are actually human needs, not cherries on top.
Putting your needs first, especially if you are someone who has always taken care of others, means a lot of inner and outer boundary work. You have to acknowledge your needs and choose to include and protect them in your life.
In a society that worships hustle and burnout, taking care of your slow, soft, gentle needs is revolutionary. Saying “Actually, I matter enough to prioritize myself today” is revolutionary. Saying no to your people pleasing tendencies is revolutionary.
It’s also hard. Really hard.
Hustle culture thrives on individual shame. It thrives on the belief that you’re not doing enough and so you must achieve this external enough in order to do something just for yourself. So you keep working, rushing, doing, staying busy — but never actually building a life that comforts and contains you and your dreams.
How to start prioritizing yourself
To start, you need to know what you want. This involves getting to know yourself, your passions, your intuition. The clues are all around you but putting them together can be a challenge with all the buzzing noise of other people’s ideas about what you’re good at and how you should spend your time.
You also need to set those boundaries. Start small, maybe one hour per week that’s just for you. Maybe you read a book, or work on a painting technique that interests you, or you listen to music while taking a long bath. Whatever your designated you-time is, be firm about the boundaries. Spend all sixty minutes on yourself.
Delegate and delay when you can. One of the biggest pressures to stay in hustle mode is the fact that chores, work, and parenting (among so much more) are neverending cycles of things that need your focus. By delegating, outsourcing, or allowing yourself to delay (just for that one hour to start!), you begin to make more space for your own needs.
Be aware of your self-talk and beliefs. Even if you had all the time and energy in the world, you might still never really internalize yourself as a priority because deep down, you still think everyone else’s needs should come first. Notice when sabotaging thoughts interrupt you and tell you lies — like you’re a failure, or your ideas are bad, or you shouldn’t even try.
Put all this together
If you’re ready to put yourself on the priority list, I’m teaching a free class tonight that will help you implement everything in this blog post. From goal setting to noticing those sabotaging thoughts, from delegating and identifying your responsibilities to accessing your intuition, this one hour class will set you up for success when it comes to prioritizing your needs. Even for an hour a week. Register now and I’ll see you tonight!