I used to be a people-pleaser, it made me deeply unhappy. Here’s how I learned to put myself first.

For a significant portion of my life, I was a perpetual people-pleaser.

I lived under the belief that my worth was intrinsically tied to the happiness of those around me, a belief reinforced by society’s glorification of self-sacrifice.

Yet, beneath the surface of my accommodating demeanor lurked a profound unhappiness that only intensified with each nod of agreement and every sacrificed desire.

The realization struck me like a lightning bolt – I needed to break free from the suffocating shackles of constant approval-seeking.

It was a tumultuous path, fraught with self-reflection and challenging choices, but the transformation was nothing short of cathartic.

Join me on this narrative voyage as I unveil the pivotal lessons that liberated me from the deadly trap of people-pleasing tendencies, empowering me to reclaim my happiness by learning the art of putting myself first.

Understanding the misconception of constant selflessness

Growing up, I was often told that putting others before myself was a virtue.

Society seemed to idealize the selfless individual who always put others’ needs first. This notion was so deeply ingrained in me that it took years of dissatisfaction and discomfort to question it.

But in my journey, I discovered that constant selflessness isn’t the path to true happiness or healthy relationships.

In fact, it’s quite the contrary. By constantly prioritizing others over myself, I was neglecting my own needs and setting myself up for emotional exhaustion.

The truth is, there’s a fine line between being considerate of others and completely disregarding your own well-being. I had crossed that line and lived on the extreme end of self-sacrifice for far too long.

I’ve come to understand that taking care of oneself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. And saying ‘no’ doesn’t make you uncaring or unkind. It means you’re respecting your own time, energy, and mental health.

Setting boundaries

My journey started with a seemingly simple, yet incredibly difficult task – saying ‘no’.

It was a word that seemed foreign to me, a word that I rarely used when asked for favors or help. But I knew it was the first step towards prioritizing myself.

Initially, it felt uncomfortable and I was racked with guilt. I feared damaging relationships or being seen as selfish.

But then I realized, it wasn’t selfish to respect my own boundaries and conserve my energy. I had to remind myself that those who truly cared about me would understand.

Over time, I got better at asserting my needs and setting boundaries. It was a liberating experience.

For the first time in my life, I felt like I was in control of my own time and energy. I found joy in doing things for myself without feeling obligated to please others.

successful people never do on the weekends I used to be a people-pleaser, it made me deeply unhappy. Here’s how I learned to put myself first.

Doubling down on self-love

I also began practicing self-care and self-love.

I started dedicating time for activities that truly brought me joy and happiness. This wasn’t about being selfish but about taking care of my own well-being.

One thing that really helped was affirmations. Telling myself that ‘I am enough’ and ‘I deserve happiness’ became an empowering tool in my journey.  

At the same time, I decided to stop tuning into the voice of the critics in my life. It became a radical act of self-preservation.

In a world often filled with opinions, I realized that not all feedback was constructive, and not every critic had my best interests at heart.

By unplugging from the noise of external judgments, I created a sanctuary for my mind, a space where my thoughts could breathe freely without the weight of unnecessary scrutiny.

It wasn’t about disregarding valuable insights or constructive criticism but rather filtering out the toxic static that threatened to erode my mental serenity.

Flipping the script on societal demands

As I navigated my journey from being a people-pleaser to prioritizing myself, I also began to understand the bigger picture.

I realized that this wasn’t just about saying ‘no’ more often or setting boundaries, it was about reclaiming my personal power and breaking free from societal expectations.

I learned that taking responsibility for my situation, even though it wasn’t entirely my fault, gave me a sense of control and empowerment. It shifted my mindset and prepared me to face other challenges that came my way.

I also started questioning the societal norms and expectations that had conditioned me to behave in a certain way. I realized that many of my beliefs were not my own, but were imposed on me by society, culture, or family.

The key points that emerged from my journey

  • Acknowledge your current dissatisfaction or struggles.
  • Take responsibility for your situation to increase your personal power.
  • Question societal norms and expectations that have influenced you.
  • Prioritize your own needs and set boundaries.
  • Practice self-care and self-love regularly.
  • Use affirmations as a tool for self-validation.
  • Understand that it’s okay to put yourself first.

One key resource that helped me in this journey was a book titled “The Power of Now”. It helped me understand the importance of living in the present moment and not being controlled by past conditioning or future anxieties.

Last reminder: this journey is about aligning your life with your true nature, breaking free from societal expectations, and embracing self-exploration. It’s about living life on your own terms.

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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