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Tips if You Put Others Before Yourself

Treating yourself with self care is optimal during grievous challenges including job loss, relationship breakup, declining health or death. In the case of caring for an ailing family member, more emphasis can go on the caregiving demands with the tendency towards you neglecting yourself. You put your family member before yourself and may even put yourself down for thinking of doing something for yourself. This does not mean you should disregard the care recipient, just do not disregard yourself in the process.

In this and other circumstances, if you are by nature a "people pleaser", your needs get brushed aside especially during tough times when you are weighed down and tend to be more vulnerable.

Cultural expectations and family dynamics may be influential in perpetuating the notion that prioritizing others over your own needs is admirable and valued. There can be a fine line between being selfless and neglecting yourself, overlooking your own well being for external validation and priorities. Prioritizing others over yourself can lead to psychological consequences such as feelings of resentment, burnout, feeling worthless and powerless.

What can you do to care for yourself and avoid the negative consequences? This is a time to bring to action the components of the 3-A Coping Framework: Acknowledge, Assess, Assist. This assisting article provides you with the opportunity to catch yourself, take stock, assess when you are putting others first and/or yourself down. Applying the components assists you to monitor yourself with awareness. Acknowledging the reality of what you are facing and Assessing the impact it is having puts you in touch with yourself to address and prevent self neglect. You are assisting just by acknowledging and assessing. By doing so, you are better informed to use assisting strategies such as:

Establishing Boundaries: Boundaries are not about changing another person but rather are the limits and guidelines we set for ourselves in clarifying relationships. You let others know what is and what is not acceptable. In order to feel safe and respected, guidelines and limits are created to establish how you would like to be treated and to foster healthy relationships. You let others know what is and what is not acceptable. For instance, as a grandparent, you can set boundaries by informing your daughter/son when you are available and not available to babysit.

Mindfulness: By being mindful, you allow things to be just as they are, being kind and non-judgmental. You are attentive to what is happening in the here and now externally and internally, being in touch with your thoughts and emotions, aware of negative messages or reprimands you are giving yourself. There is an inner voice that you can tap into through breathing meditation, which is an exercise for practicing living mindfully.

Self Compassion: Treating yourself with self compassion involves showing kindness to yourself. It may be awkward to begin with if you have never treated yourself in this way before. Observing your thoughts in mindful meditation is a way to get a handle on what message you are sending to yourself, particularly if you assess you are not being kind but rather critical. The awareness of what you are thinking is empowering, acknowledging that a thought is just a thought and may not be based in reality. Showing yourself self compassion makes it easier to set boundaries.

To summarize, self-compassion, setting boundaries, and mindfulness are complementary practices that support individuals in putting themselves before others in a healthy and sustainable way. By cultivating awareness of yourself utilizing the 3-A Coping Framework of Acknowledge, Assess, Assist, you can honor your own needs, protect your emotional and physical well-being while still engaging in acts of kindness and compassion towards others.


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