Knowing When to Put Yourself First

Sometimes in life, we find ourselves at a crossroads. Specifically, at a crossroads where we have to choose whether to take care of ourselves or to take care of others. I found myself at one of these crossroads recently and it got me thinking about something. When is it ok to put yourself first?

I want to point out that this mini-post is meant to be more of a reflection than anything. It won’t contain any important nutrition facts or opinions. I merely want to share what I’ve been thinking about lately.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am a Christian, and always have been. Growing up, I was taught that, as a Christian, I am called to serve others and put others before myself. I have done my best to live out that calling. But it begs the question, where do we draw the line? At what point do we take a step back and make the tough decision to put ourselves first? I don’t pretend to have the answer to this question. But I think there are ways that we can all take a closer look at ourselves and the situations we find ourselves in and get closer to figuring it out.

Modern day culture  is on the other end of the spectrum, encouraging us to only think of ourselves, and to not feel guilty about it. And while there are many valid reasons to think of yourself, it’s certainly not the only thing you should consider when making decisions, at least not in my opinion. Imagine a world in which we all just looked out for ourselves… Pretty scary thought, right?

So looking at these two perspectives, where is the middle ground? Will we ever find a fail-proof balance where we can always make the right decision? The answer is, probably not. But my point is that that’s ok. Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith when making a decision. Sometimes you may make a decision that’s not perfect for everyone. Sometimes, putting yourself first is the healthiest option. If we don’t take care of ourselves, how can we be expected to effectively take care of others?

These are a few questions that I’ve found to be helpful when trying to make these types of decisions:

  • Is the cause worth the sacrifice?
  • How does my decision affect others?
  • Is there another option that will work for everyone?
  • Is my contribution noticed and appreciated?
  • What are my own personal limits? What will happen if I reach them? Can I afford to take that risk?
  • Am I reaching my full potential? Are my efforts better spent on something else?
  • Has everyone involved had a chance to express their thoughts and concerns?
  • What are my priorities?

Obviously these aren’t always easy questions to answer. But I think having them in your back pocket to pull out when you need them can make things a little more clear. It’s important to be self-reflective and to know yourself well. You can only work to know, love, and serve others if you first do so with yourself. But no matter what decision you make, it’s important not to beat yourself, or anyone else, up for it. All we can do is learn from our experiences and keep moving forward.

I’m interested in your thoughts on this! Have you ever been in a situation where you had to choose whether or not to put yourself first? What choice did you make and why? Would you make the same choice again?

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