Your Happiness Begins With You: Why You Should Be Your First Priority

Growing up, I watched other women take care of everyone else. They put others' needs before their own, and they were praised for it. “Isn't it wonderful how selfless so and so is,” I'd often hear. But these selfless women were doing so much for others that they often ignored their own needs, making them unhappy and unfulfilled.

George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.” We are responsible for what we see, which means that when one is feeling defeated internally, the world will reflect a similar sentiment.

But if a person's internal feeling is one of fulfillment, the way in which one sees the world will be positive. Only an individual can know exactly what he or she needs. To feel good in this world, it is compulsory to understand oneself; the responsibility should be no one else's.

Make yourself a priority

I didn't know what I needed or wanted for years and I always put the needs of others before my own. I always said "yes" when I really wanted to say "no." I didn't know how to assert myself without coming across as rude.

I lied to everyone, including myself, about my sensitivities, saying I felt fine when I didn't, and pretending not to care about a breakup or rejection letter when I did. Many mornings, I'd look in the mirror dissatisfied with my appearance.

I'd beat myself up when events unravelled unaccording to plan, and couldn't internalize any compliments sent my way. To make myself a priority, first I had to believe myself to be worthy and understand that without meeting my own needs, I would never be the best daughter, friend, sister, aunt, employee or partner that I could be.

Say what you feel

Eventually, playing my emotions off as no big deal made me feel less satisfied and angry with myself. To start valuing your feelings, it's important to focus on yourself, rather than on others, to make decisions. Only you know what's best for you. The more you listen to yourself, the more successful you will be in finding your own answers. So instead of allowing negativity to fester, express yourself.

Speak well of yourself

Being mindful of how we speak of ourselves is important to consider. Far too often, I make cutting judgments on myself. While it's healthy to be self-aware and to consciously work on personal character, most negative sentiments only reinforce poor self-esteem.

Be more conscientious when you speak about yourself, and every time you say something negative, change your dig into a positive statement. For example, rather than saying "I should have gone to the gym today," try "I could have gone to the gym today, but instead I..." Remember, you both control your reactions and choose how you see yourself.

Surround yourself with goodness

It's important to surround ourselves with positivity — laughing couples, beautiful landscapes, sumptuous food. The more goodness with which we immerse ourselves, the more worthy we feel of having such fortune ourselves. In order to become the best versions of ourselves, to have lives filled with laughter and enjoyment, we must be kind to ourselves — we are always learning and growing.

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