June 28, 2023

The Challenges of Putting Yourself First

By Natasha Beals
Mental Health & Wellbeing

Let’s face it, life can be busy and stressful at times. We find it challenging to put ourselves first because it goes against the societal expectations and norms of putting others’ needs before your own. You may also find it hard to put yourself first because you have a tendency to please people and are simply used to putting others before yourself. There are a few challenges that individuals face when prioritizing the needs of others:

  • Guilt – feeling guilty or selfish for prioritizing their own needs and desires, especially if it means saying no to others or declining invitations.
  • Fear of judgment – Worrying about what others will think of them, especially if it means setting boundaries and pursuing their own goals and interests.
  • Social pressure – Society puts pressure on people to put others first in the form of messages through social media, societal norms or expectations from family and friends. This can make a person feel like they are doing something wrong when they prioritize themselves.
  • Finding balance – It can be a little difficult to balance your needs with the needs of others, especially if you have responsibilities such as caring for your children or your partner.
  • Feeling overwhelmed – Prioritizing yourself can mean taking on additional responsibilities, such as finding time for self-care or pursuing your passions. This can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you have a lot on your plate already.

The Importance of Putting Yourself First

Please know that putting yourself first does not mean disregarding the needs of others or being selfish in a negative way. It means recognizing your own worth, setting healthy boundaries, and taking responsibility for your own well-being. While it may be challenging at first, prioritizing yourself can lead to greater overall well-being and a more fulfilling life. Putting yourself first is beneficial for your mental health because it helps you establish healthy boundaries, maintain self-care practices, and cultivate a sense of self-worth. It means recognizing that your well-being matters and that taking care of yourself is necessary for you to be able to support and care for others effectively.

How to Start Putting Yourself First

Here are some tools to help you to start prioritizing your own needs for a positive impact on your mental well-being:


Take some time to engage in activities that you enjoy and provide you with some relaxation. Whether it’s pursuing hobbies, exercising, meditating, crafting, or spending time with positive role models, self-care enhances your mental, emotional, and physical health. When you take care of your own needs, you replenish your energy and become better equipped to handle life’s challenges.


There is nothing wrong with saying “no.” Putting yourself first means setting boundaries and learning to say no when necessary. Establishing clear boundaries helps protect your emotional and mental well-being by preventing others from taking advantage of your time, energy, and resources. Learning to respect your limits and prioritize your needs can contribute to a healthier and more balanced life.


It is time to start realizing your worth. Prioritizing yourself sends a message that you value your own worth and well-being. It cultivates a positive self-image and enhances your self-esteem. By recognizing your own needs and giving yourself permission to meet them, you reinforce the belief that you are deserving of care, respect, and happiness.

Emotional well-being

When you prioritize yourself, you learn to become more attuned to your emotions, which can help you to better manage them. By acknowledging and addressing your feelings, you prevent emotional suppression or neglect, which can lead to increased stress, anxiety, or depression. Taking care of your mental and emotional health contributes to greater overall life satisfaction.

Balance and fulfillment

Putting yourself first allows you to create a more balanced and fulfilling life. By considering your own needs and desires alongside others, you can find a healthier equilibrium. This balance promotes a sense of fulfillment and helps prevent feelings of resentment or burnout that may arise from constantly prioritizing others at the expense of your own well-being.

Reach Out

Putting yourself first means that you are recognizing that your own needs matter and that taking care of yourself is essential for your overall well-being. Are you ready to start putting yourself first to improve your mental health? Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our therapists here at Optimum Joy!

Written By

Natasha Beals

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