Happiness Begins With You | If You Want To Live Happier, Start Putting Yourself First

Happiness Begins With You | Start Putting Yourself First To Live Happier

Today's post is especially meaningful to me, because this is something I'm personally struggling with right now. Putting myself first. After years and years and years of putting everyone else and everything else first, I've finally decided to put my foot down and become "selfish" (if that's what it is).

Most of us grow up learning to put ourselves second. This "martyr-type" syndrome is ingrained in us right from the beginning. Especially with females, at least here in India.
"Let the old people eat first, then the guys and the kids, then we can eat."
I've been watching the ladies in my extended family do this since I was a little kid. Naturally, this, then, shapes up into your own belief system, doesn't it?

You grow up into adulthood, and you still continue putting yourself second-place everywhere. And eventually, some of you realize what is going on, and you start dissenting with this.

But that makes you hate yourself. Because you are not as much of a "martyr" as you are expected to be. You are "selfish". You are thinking about yourself. When all your life, you have been trained to NOT think about yourself.

Which means that there is clearly something wrong with YOU!

That's when you start becoming unhappy. Eventually, it starts showing in your body too, in the form of various illnesses.

I don't understand.
Why on Earth is it so wrong to think of ourselves at times?

Are we any less important than others? Were we created by mistake? Don't we deserve to exist and to occupy space?
Why are we always expected to compromise? On the food. On our personal space. On our favorite TV shows. On our career. Everything.

Why do we always have to be so accommodating? Even of other people's shit?

Why do we "sell ourselves short" in practically all spheres of life?

Just a faulty belief system that we were brought up in.

Happiness Begins With You | Start Putting Yourself First To Live Happier

I don't have any kids, but if I ever do, I just hope I can teach them that their happiness matters too, that they have as much of a right to live freely and fully as anybody else, that there is nothing wrong in thinking about yourself at times, about putting yourself first at times.

6 Ways In Which You Should Start Putting Yourself First, To Become Happier

  1. Your feelings are important

    I remember when my mom passed away. I was 19. The eldest daughter in the family. I was told NOT to grieve, but to be strong, as my family depended on me to look after them. Worst possible advice that you can ever give to a teenage girl who has just lost her mom!

    From a very early age, we are taught to repress our feelings, invalidate them, judge them into right and wrong. That is just so idiotically stupid! I don't know who came up with this brilliant idea, but all it does is create confused individuals who can never seem to get their shit together!

    Our feelings are the medium through which our higher-self/intuition communicates with us. And we are told to block this communication channel altogether! Or even to second guess it, doubt it! How does that make any sense at all?
    Your feelings ARE important. If something/someone makes you feel bad even the slightest bit, then it probably IS wrong. No two ways of looking at it. Let nobody convince you ever that your feelings are wrong.
  2. Your dreams are important

    "No need to see such big dreams okay... job, career...!
    Your in-laws will decide after you are married! Just learn how to cook and take care of the house!"
    Unfortunately, that's still the sad reality of most households in India.

    The movie Chak De was based pre-dominantly on this concept. And more recently, in Dangal, when Aamir Khan tries to guide his daughters to achieve their full potential as professional wrestlers, he has to face the wrath of the entire community!

    Women or men, why should anybody need to sacrifice their dreams for family? What are families for anyway? Are they supposed to help us chase our dreams, or are they there to chain us and pull us back from them? If it's the latter, then why have a family at all?
    Never sacrifice your dreams for anyone. It only builds resentment. You can always let go of one dream because some other dream is more important to you. But let your feelings guide you.
  3. Your work is important

    Raise your hands if you have faced any of these situations!

    • Husband's parents are visiting. So naturally, the wife has to take an off from work.
    • "Working from home? Oh then you can easily juggle your schedule to accommodate us."
    • "It's just writing, for God sake! You're not doing anything serious!"
    • "This is handmade... who's going to pay so much for this!"

    Whether you're a housewife or working, junior executive or top management, formal employee or a freelancer or an artisan, your skills are unique. What you bring to the table is unique. What you create is unique.
    Never let anyone underestimate your skills and what you do. Never EVER let anyone convince you that what you do is not important enough.
  4. Your needs are important

    In April 2016, when I was taking physiotherapy for my injured shoulder, my therapist told me that usually, women my age never regain full movement of their shoulder, because they don't take the time out to do the exercises, and they don't give it the rest required. They are just so busy looking after the family, that they don't even give their body time to heal. Some insight, huh? But what he said was quite true.

    There is nothing wrong in taking care of the people you love, catering to their needs. But your needs are important too. And you have every right to take care of your needs first. This is not some Mythological epic saga, and you are no "Daanveer Karn" that you have to take care of other people even at the cost of your own basic needs.
    You have every right to ask for whatever you need, and you have every right to receive it. Be it help in something (for me, it's usually shopping), or some special food constraints, or a "timeout", or even just your personal space for an hour or two.
  5. Your "me-time" is important

    Family, kids, parents, customers, clients, boss, friends, neighbors, they are all important. But so are you. I learnt this the hard way. When I opened my store, I was working 7 days a week, from 10 am to at least 9pm. Sometimes even later. Plus all the housework. And I didn't take a vacation for almost 5 years after opening my shop! #facepalm

    As someone mentioned to me a few months ago, "even a machine needs yearly maintenance". So yes, the stress started showing eventually.

    We really do need to make time in our day to exercise, rest, recuperate, go out with friends, enjoy our music, watch TV (and yes, we have the right to watch our favorite TV shows too), and pursue our hobbies, whatever they may be.
    Yes, our hobbies ARE very much important! And yes, it is completely OKAY to spend money on our personal hobby blog, if that's what we want and can afford it! Let nobody tell you that it is a waste of money!
  6. You are important

    There are so many people around us who go out of the way to talk us down, show us, at every possible occasion and in every possible way, that we are "less", that there is something totally wrong with us, that we don't deserve any of the good we have in life. That we are just not "worth it". Not worth returning calls, not worth doing something nice for, not worth showing up on time (at times, not showing up at all!), in fact, not even worth basic respect and kindness.

    Unfortunately for us, our schools teach us so many things that we never ever use in life, but they don't teach us about people. Especially about how to recognize and deal with narcissists.

    People who really love you NEVER put you down. They go out of their way to make you feel special and loved and cared for. They don't go out of their way to make you feel small and insignificant all the time.
    You ARE important. And you deserve to be appreciated and respected. Let no one take you for granted, EVER.

Happiness Begins With You | Start Putting Yourself First To Live Happier
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These are the 6 ways I recommend, in which you should start putting yourself first. At least, this is what I have started doing since last couple of years. Some people may not like it at first, because they have been used to being put on the pedestal until then. But eventually, if they genuinely care for you, they WILL turn around.

Yes, this is very difficult to do. Yes, the people around you, who are affected by your sudden change, will not make it any easier for you. Yes, you will come close to giving up so many times. But remember:

  • You are stronger than you believe.
  • You are more beautiful than you think.
  • You are loved by many more people than you know.
  • You are more amazing than you could possibly ever imagine.

So just:

ACCEPT yourself as you are, BELIEVE in people a little bit, FORGIVE those who don't make through this transition in your life, and be GRATEFUL for those who do acknowledge your worth in their life.

Do you ever put yourself first? Or is it always about the others and their needs?
Do you feel exhausted and worn-out all the time? Ignored?
Do you hold you head high? Or do you let people use you all the time?

This is my 25th post for A to Z 2019.

I have attempted this challenge twice before, and published one kindle ebook out of it. You can get it on amazon: A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.

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