You’re told to love yourself. You’re encouraged to put yourself first. You’re promised it’s not selfish to do what’s best for your own mental health.
But, for some reason, people will still look at you like you’re an asshole when you choose yourself over them.
People will mistake your self-preservation for heartlessness. They will assume you are out to hurt them when you are only trying to do the right thing for you.
When you say no to someone because you have too much on your plate to handle anything else at the moment, they will take the rejection personally. They will accuse you of not caring about them, of being a bad friend, of only caring about yourself — but it’s about time you’ve started caring about yourself.
You’ve spent your whole life caring about others, catering to their needs, conforming to their values. You’ve gotten into the habit of sacrificing your own happiness in order to please the people around you and that is not okay. You deserve to treat yourself as a priority for a change. You deserve to do what you want, not what you think everyone else wants.
Stop worrying about what anyone else thinks of you. If someone is a true friend, they will get over the fact you spent a Friday night without them. If someone really loves you, they will understand why you would cancel plans in order to get an extra few hours of sleep.
If you really want to work on loving yourself, if you really want to start treating yourself as a priority, then you have to accept you might lose some people along the way.
After all, putting yourself first means shifting everyone else down a step on your list of priorities — and some people won’t be able to handle that. They will be annoyed you’re standing up for yourself. They won’t want you around unless they can walk over you, unless you come running every time they call.
In their eyes, putting yourself first makes you look like an asshole. They won’t want you to stop drinking with them every weeknight so you can spend more time at home working on yourself. They won’t want you to start turning down favors because you’re busy going to therapy sessions and working out at the gym. They won’t want you to dedicate time toward bettering yourself because it means you’ll have less time for them.
Unfortunately, when you decide to put yourself first, some people aren’t going to be happy about your shift in priorities. They’re going to act like you are selfish. They are going to act like you’ve changed.
As much as it hurts you to hurt them, you can’t always be there for them. You can’t always act as a martyr. You’re allowed to put yourself first. You’re allowed to follow your heart over the crowd. You’re allowed to make the ‘selfish’ choice.
If someone assumes you’re an asshole because you’re finally treating yourself with respect after all these years, then you should assume they have no place in your life.