How to Put Yourself First? Your Ultimate Self-Care Guide

Begin to Put Yourself First

You are tired of saying yes to others and putting yourself last.

You know you should take care of yourself first.   After all, how many times have you heard people use the metaphor ‘put the oxygen mask on yourself first’ in an emergency situation before helping your child on a plane?

You are well aware of the importance of filling your own cup first or you will end up with nothing to give to others.   Yet for some reason, something holds you back from taking care of your own basic needs.

Let’s go through these shall we?

A. You Believe People Will Stop Liking You

Some will. Some won’t. So What? Next. – Unknown

What would people think of you?   You are afraid people will start to dislike you and you’ll lose the love and connection you have with people.

The reality is people will judge you left and right. Those who truly love you will continue to stick by your side no matter what.

And wouldn’t you rather spend your energy and time with people who loves you back for being just the way you are?

In voice over, you may have said yes to an opportunity early on (that didn’t check off all boxes of your ideal client) in your career as you were eager to get the experience. Over the years, you continue to do work for the client but you start to resent and feel like a drag whenever they reach out.

It’s time to outline your new terms and rates. The probability of the client agreeing to it is probably slim if they were not ideal from the start.  If that’s the case. Thank them for the business in the past and wish them well as now there’s no longer a fit and there needs would be better served by another voice over artist who is willing to do the work.

B. You Pride Yourself on Being a Tireless Caregiver

Admit it. You are proud of how much you do for others. Even though you are tired, it gives you a sense of purpose. And secretly you don’t know who you’d be if you start to put yourself first. The truth is when you start to balance your needs with others, you’ll have so much more to give.

From a professional standpoint, it’s natural to want to say yes you can do everything to whatever the client asks of you. However, before you do make sure you are able to to do it. Know your boundaries, know what’s on your plate and what you can or cannot take on. Being professional is not about saying you can do something and then tiring yourself out working yourself to the ground.  It’s saying you can do something and delivering what you say you will do while also taking care of your well-being. 

C. You Believe You Will Miss Out

Need I say more? You are too busy keeping up with the latest trends, hippest scene and checking out what everyone else is doing. You are afraid if you don’t keep up with all your friends you will miss out on the fun and opportunities.

Reality check.

What you see on people’s social media pages is the tip of the iceberg. You have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes in their lives.

When you start over comparing your life with others instead of enjoying your own, you miss out on living out your own life. Next time when you feel like you are missing out, ask yourself:

  • Is this something I really want to do?
  • Is this an accurate representation of reality?
  • Is this something that will enhance the quality and experience of my life?                                             

If you answer no to two or more questions, chances are you are not missing out.

With voice over, when you are starting out it’s easy to get caught up with signing up for every free seminar, scroll through and reading whatever you can get your hands on. The thing is, it is easy to get overloaded with information. And analysis paralysis takes over.

Sometimes, you need to just focus on one thing. If a decision is required, i.e. choosing a microphone. Decide and take action. If it’s something you need to work on, practice it until you get the hang of it.  Once you complete something, choose your next topic to research. Rinse and repeat. It’s much easier to focus on what it is YOU must and need to do today, rather than on everything you want to be doing and comparing yourself and trying to get into what everyone may be making noise about. An example of this is when Clubhouse first burst into scene. 

Everyone seemed to be talking about the connections they’ve made and how it’s a great way to get in front of casting directors and network. etc. And yes I can definitely see the value of it, once you’ve figured out which events are worth checking out and maybe set up X amount of time you are willing to spend time on it, if you believe it’s a social media platform that makes sense for the purpose you are trying to achieve as a voice over artist, i.e. to practice your reads in front of people, grow your business etc.

However, the first week on the platform, the notifications on my phone was going nuts. There’s so many events happening it made me anxious. My focus and attention was high-jacked by the fear of missing out and comparing myself with what others are doing that I had to remind myself of my goals and evaluate what value (if any) can it bring to my life and in building my voice over career. 

D.  You Don’t Feel Worthy

Growing up you are taught to put others first. When this is practiced continually it becomes a habit to negate your own personal needs. Unconsciously this implies that your needs and wants are not as important as others, which can lead us to believe we are not worthy. When you neglect your needs you can begin to feel resentful and depressed.


E. You Feel Responsible For Others

When you play the part of caregiver, it is easy to feel responsible for the needs and emotional well being of those you love. But you are not responsible (other than for your children – age is to be debated upon). Some questions to ponder on:

  • Is it possible by caring too much and taking on the responsibility of your friends and family can hinder their ability to think for themselves and stifle their growth?                         
  • How would you feel if they are not able to develop their own ability to respond to situations by themselves when you are not around?                                                                                                    
  • Do you actually have control over every moment of their life?                                                                        


Does any of these reasons sound familiar to you?

If so, you are getting in your own way. How? By thinking and caring too much. This article is an in-depth read, so make sure you bookmark it. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and get comfy.

Here’s what you’re about to learn

Self-care means honoring your body, mind and, spirit. Making it a priority to take care of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. It’s not feeling guilty or selfish for taking time out to recharge your battery and take care of your basic needs.

To quote SparkPeople, “If ‘putting yourself first’ (a common admonition) sounds too selfish or too hard, try something simpler: put yourself on an equal footing with those you love and tend to.”

If so, taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you don’t care about others. It also doesn’t mean you need to ignore and isolate everybody in your life.

It means start listening to what your body needs. What your mind needs. What your heart needs and what you are feeling. And be willing to attend to your needs first because you are the caretaker of your body and life. No one can do this for you.

When I started putting myself first I felt weird saying no to things in the beginning because I was afraid of the consequences that might ensue.

But nothing happened that I couldn’t mentally and emotionally have dealt with.

All I knew was that it felt good to start saying yes to myself and setting up boundaries. As I’ve kept up the practice of saying no to others and things I don’t enjoy or didn’t feel like doing, I noticed a multitude of benefits and changes in my life including:

  • More productive
  • More happiness
  • More energy
  • More respect from others
  • Better relationships
  • Less fear
  • Less stress
  • Less resentment
  • Less depressed

And the list goes on and on. But not everyone will choose to put the care back in themselves first. Why? Because they can’t wrap their head around thinking they are being selfless vs. selfish.

Many people say that by putting yourself first you are being selfish.

Here’s a way to look at it from another perspective. And you may not like or agree with me but if you are open to try seeing it from another lens, you will find your life improve.


Here goes. Being a people pleaser makes you feel good. It makes you feel liked. And you want to be liked right? If you answered yes…

Stop being so selfish.

It’s not about you.

The fact you have reservations about being selfish indicates you are not. Selfish people will not even take the time to question whether or not they are selfish. Your job is to be you.

Honoring your needs that support your core values. It doesn’t mean you don’t respect and consider others. You are instead deciding to make a deliberate choice to take care of your self first.

To keep your cup full so that you have an overflow to give willingly without expectations. Do you see the distinction? To quote Christine Hassler, author of Expectation Hangover, 

“When we serve, we expect nothing. That said, serving is not selfless either because we are giving to others at the expense of our own needs.”

So instead of consuming your time and energy to impress others and taking on more responsibility than you can handle, focus on fulfilling your own needs. Overtime, this will naturally enable you to tend to others more positively and effectively while being your authentic self.

1. Listen to Yourself

You know the feeling you get when something isn’t right or something is off? That’s your call to action to get in touch with yourself. To follow your nudges and listen to what your body and mind need, and act accordingly to find balance in life again.

Follow what makes you feel good that naturally rejuvenates your well-being.

Spend some time alone away from the social distractions and noise so that you can listen to your own thoughts and voice. Even if it is 10 minutes a day before everyone gets up or when everyone is in bed. Craft out time to be with your thoughts.   

Notice what it is saying.  

Is it negative or positive? If it is negative, talk to it like you would with a child. Ask what is making it feel this way? And what does it need?


2. Get Started

Once you realize what you need to nurture your mind, body and spirit, take action. One step at a time. Know that you don’t have to be perfect, you just need to get started to make your life better. As Brendon Burchard said,

“No matter how small you start. Start something that matters.”

And YOU Matter.


3. Make Yourself a Priority

not at the expense of others. Rather see it as a non-negotiable if you want to continue to thrive and give to others


4. Learn To Say “No!”

to things that are not important to you. To things that you don’t like doing and are not aligned with your core values. If required, find ways to negotiate and ask for what you want.

Find a happy medium to compromise with others so that you willingly want to do something not because you have to.


5. Make Time for Yourself to Do What Fuels Your Soul

This means scheduling ‘me’ time for yourself in your planner doing the things that energizes and makes you happy.

This is how you fill up your own love tank. Like a car, how can you expect yourself to keep going and giving if you are running on an empty tank? So do something for yourself today.

6. Don’t Let Your Pride Get In the Way

When required accept and ask for help along the way. There is no shame to ask for assistance.

Growing up if you were encouraged to strive for perfection and taught to mask your flaws and not burden people with your baggage, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The constant need to pretend and find solutions all by yourself is one of the most unproductive ways to utilize your time and energy.

Allocate and outsource what you don’t know or require help with, out to others, who are more than capable to provide you with the service and information you need. After all, if you could have done it alone, you would have.

But the reality is, as humans we need each other.

It is what connects us and keep us alive. That’s why our world is set up in a way where we need to rely on each other from time to time.

Dr. Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs alludes that as humans, we have a desire to live a life of significance and contribution when our basic needs are met. We enjoy lending a hand when we choose to do it out of our own free will.

Of course how much and how often depends on you and your needs. So when the opportunity arises, give someone the chance to assist you when you need it. And remember they are more than able to decide for themselves whether they want to say yes or no to your request for help.

7. Shift Your Perspective

You create your own reality. This is not to say by thinking i.e. “you will have all the time in the world”, you’ll have it by tomorrow. But who knows? Perhaps it will. Anything can happen. What I do know is if you are willing to ‘try on’ and see self-care as selfless vs. selfish and take positive steps to change your approach to life, your life will start to improve for the better.

When people get angry with us it’s because there is a discrepancy gap between how we are behaving and how others would like us to be.

What may be true to you may not be true to someone else. You can’t control every situation and how people decide to react and choose to feel about you. There are so many factors that influence our reality and our journey in life.

So give yourself a break. If you don’t, who will?

Those who truly love and value you will adjust to the new you. It may be hard for them and it can take time, but as Brendon Burchard said   “Don’t give up on them. Patience + caring + empathy = Love”

Once you start feeling happier and have more energy they’ll see that it will be more enjoyable to hang out with you. And I’ll bet they would much rather have you be happy than be miserable.

You are living your own life.

You can’t be expected to please everybody except for yourself.

Apply what resonates today and listen to your own wisdom. And as you practice these ideas you will soon go from being a giver who is relentlessly drained to becoming a giver who is prosperous. Someone who gives it their all but who don’t give it all.

Photo by: Danielle MacInnes

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