Do you feel guilty when you put yourself first?

Today we build on last week’s JanYOUary blog entry and discuss the first of the 3 most common mistakes we all make when it comes to putting ourselves first.

1) The guilt of putting yourself first… do you ever feel that?


This one gets a little tricky, so stay with me. There is a huge difference between being selfish and putting yourself first. And we seem to confuse the two all the time.

Let’s take a closer look at the various definitions of “selfish,” according to

1. “Concerned chiefly or excessively with oneself, and having little regard for others.”
2. “Showing or arising from an excessive concern with oneself and a lack of concern for others.”
3. “Caring only or chiefly for oneself; concerned with one’s own interests, welfare, etc.”

When you’re selfish, you do not care about others and their well-being. You could argue such a person has a lack of empathy and compassion for others, too. That tinge of guilt you feel when you think you’re being selfish? It tells us that you actually do care about other people.

So, what is the difference between putting yourself first and the above definitions of selfish? Think of it like the safety instructions on an airplane. Put the oxygen mask on first and then help others. If you start assisting other people before you have your mask on, you’ll most likely suffocate before you get to the other person. You’ll both be dead, and that helps no one.

In putting your mask on first, you will be able to help way more people. And this is how it also works in real life. When you continually put others’ needs before your own, you deplete your resources. In the long run, you’ll have less to give those you love.

Next time you feel guilty about being self-centered, stop and realize why you’re doing it. If your reason is to become more effective, then you’re not being selfish. Everyone around you will thank you later! Start putting yourself first so that you can empower others.