11 signs it’s time to start prioritizing your own needs

How often do you put yourself first?

Let’s face it: Many of us put our needs on the back burner. It’s hard to prioritize self-love when you always care for everyone else.

You give, give, and give — but often forget to give to yourself. You wake up every day feeling like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Before you know it, you’re running on an empty tank.

If this is you, know that you’re not alone. And more importantly, you have the power to love yourself and show up for yourself first. 

It starts with understanding where you might be hurting yourself. 

Let’s dig a little deeper and explore some signs that it’s time to start prioritizing your own needs.

1) You struggle to say ‘no’

It’s a simple two-letter word, but it’s very difficult for you to say it even when you want to.

Worst of all, you always give in to the pressure to say ‘yes’ because you don’t want to let people down.

Is your boss asking you to do that extra piece of work on a weekend? You say yes even if you know you need to rest and recharge.

Is your friend asking you to go out on a Friday night? You say yes even if you’re tired and had a long week at work.

You don’t know your boundaries anymore. You say yes to ‘everything’ and ‘everyone’ — except you.

This brings me to my next point ….

2) You’re accepting less than you deserve

When you don’t prioritize your own needs, there’s this tendency for you to get stuck in settling for less than you deserve. This can happen at work, in relationships, and even with your goals.

Do you keep falling for a toxic partner who doesn’t see you for the real you? 

Do you just settle for ‘anything you can get’ rather than setting a high standard for yourself because you know you’ve done great work to deserve it?

Do you find it hard to stand up for yourself even if other people are disrespecting you?

If you said yes to most of these questions, then chances are you tolerate negative situations or draining relationships.

3) You feel drained and burned out

There’s no denying it when you’re body is screaming for help. Here are some of the warning signs that you’re feeling burned out:

  • You feel very exhausted despite sleeping eight hours a night.
  • You always feel depleted.
  • Your anxiety occupies your mind most of the time and you think you’re always failing.
  • You’re feeling all kinds of body tension — headache and neck and leg pain.
  • You can’t concentrate.
  • You’ve developed unhealthy ways to cope with stress — smoking, overeating comfort food, drinking, and inactivity.

Deep down, you’re mentally drained, physically exhausted, and emotionally dry.

4) You’re always in a bad mood

Here’s the deal: Stress affects you and those close to you.

If you find yourself constantly in a sour mood, it’s often because you’re beaten down physically and mentally.

Think about this for a minute: If your happiness level gets lower and lower and you’re always irritable, do you think you’ll be someone that others would want to spend time with?

The thing is, when you don’t take time to prioritize your needs, your stress levels increase. This can take a toll on you and everyone around you.

You can’t effectively handle frustration and pressure, and this can lead to conflict and tension.

5) You often hide what you really feel

This one’s connected to my earlier point about how you can’t say ‘no.’

When you’re not attuned to yourself and your needs, your sense of self-worth suffers. 

You don’t let others know when you’re frustrated, tired, and stressed because you’re afraid they’d get disappointed. 

If someone asks you how you are, you tell them you’re fine even when you’re not. You continue to do things that leave you feeling empty. 

And it gets worse: You don’t speak up when something or someone is making you feel uncomfortable.

6) You seek validation from others

Has people pleasing become your lifestyle? Do you function on autopilot, often at the whims and desires of others?

When you don’t pay attention to your needs and wants, you’ll always feel the need to have someone else’s approval.

You give more weight to other people’s perceptions and opinions of you, so much so that you start disregarding yourself. 

7) You always take on other people’s problems as your own

Don’t get me wrong. It’s okay to go the extra mile to help others and do what you can to make them happy.

The problem happens, however, when you push yourself to the limits to make other people happy at the expense of your happiness.

Here’s the kicker: Even when that impulse to ‘fix’ other people’s problems is irresistible, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. You’re not responsible for other people’s happiness.

You’re doing a disservice to yourself and the other person when you try to take on all of their emotional load. 

8) You always compare yourself to others

You’re not prioritizing your needs when you always find yourself falling into the dangerous trap of ‘competing’ with others.

You engage in habits that feed your insecurity and self-doubt. 

Consider this: How many times have you stood in front of a mirror just to criticize yourself? 

How often do you worry over how much weight you’ve gained, how messy your hair looks, or how dry your skin feels?

And it doesn’t stop there: You undermine your self-worth and think that you’re not capable. You feel like other people’s accomplishments make yours less special. 

Being too hard on yourself zaps your motivation and keeps you from reaching your goals. 

9) You feel resentful

This one’s another painful reality. Putting other people’s needs before your own can trigger feelings of resentment.

In other words, you feel intense anger towards others for taking advantage of you or treating you unfairly.

You start to think that you’re being taken for granted when you’re trying to shoulder all the burden and no one’s considering your needs.

These feelings of resentment can damage your mental health and your relationships with family and friends. 

10) You feel unfulfilled

Consider this: What has happened to your aspirations, goals, and hopes? Have you been constantly putting them off until everyone else is taken care of?

Doing what we love recharges us. But when you sacrifice your interests altogether and stop following your passions, you’re also letting go of your happiness and fulfillment

Your dreams become thin and less imaginative. You won’t have the energy to pursue your goals and discover hidden talents and opportunities. 

You rarely find the time to stop and experience what makes your hard work worth it. You won’t find the drive to live the life you want. 

11) You feel guilty for making time for ‘you’

Is there a lingering voice in your head that reinforces the idea that anything you do for yourself is selfish? Do you constantly feel guilty when you can’t be there for others?

You’re clearly not prioritizing your needs when you start to think that you’re a terrible person for putting yourself first

When you’re riddled with guilt, you’ll be motivated by the need to please other people. You won’t make time for activities that nourish your mind, body, and heart.

In a nutshell

Here are some of the warning signs that it’s time to start prioritizing your own needs.

  • You struggle to say ‘no.’ You find it hard to set and maintain boundaries, which means you’ll say ‘yes’ to everything and everyone — except you.
  • You settle for less than you deserve. You tolerate toxic people, draining relationships, and negative situations.
  • You feel totally drained and burned out. You’re mentally drained, physically exhausted, and emotionally dry.
  • You’re always in a bad mood. Your irritability is taking a toll on you and everyone around you.
  • You often hide what you really feel. You don’t speak up when something or someone is making you feel uncomfortable.
  • You seek validation from others. People-pleasing has become your lifestyle, and you base your worth on other people’s opinions of you.
  • You always take on other people’s problems as your own. You push yourself to the limits to make other people happy at the expense of your happiness.
  • You always compare yourself to others. You fall into the dangerous trap of competing with others.
  • You feel resentful. You start to think that you’re being taken for granted when you’re trying to shoulder all the burden.
  • You feel unfulfilled. You’ve been constantly putting your goals and dreams on hold until everyone else is taken care of.
  • You feel guilty for making time for ‘you.’ You think that you’re a terrible person for putting yourself first. 

I hope that this article helps you realize that self-love is not selfish. Think of it this way, if you don’t put yourself first, no one else will. 

The most important relationship you have is with yourself. Cheers to celebrating and prioritizing YOU!

Maria Fatima Reyes

Maria Fatima Reyes

Fat Niebres is a freelance writer who loves to chase stories that matter. She finds meaning and inspiration in the mundane. When she's not writing, she's probably reading, eating, traveling, or having deep conversations with her husband. She brings her experience in broadcast, print, and NGO communications, and has been published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Inquirer.net.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.

0:00
0:00