For most of us, it ends up taking last priority.
It’s a recipe for disaster. When you put everything and everyone else ahead of yourself, you are setting yourself up for burnout. You may think you can push through, but the consequences always show themselves in other ways. Stress, sickness, anxiety, depression – it sneaks up on you pretty quickly. You think you’re fine and then before you know it, it’s too late and you’re already over the edge.
I know, because I’m the queen of getting into that same situation, usually not directly by my own doing … but because of life circumstances where I don’t stand up and assert my own needs because I don’t feel that I can. There’s always something worse happening with someone else, and I have to take care of whatever’s going on. Because this mirrors my experience as a child, when I had to deal with my mother and her emotional demands, I start feeling resentful and trapped when it happens now. I feel invisible, insignificant, like I can’t set boundaries and my needs are never met.
Of course, as an adult, I have to make decisions that protect me and my mental health and my boundaries – decisions that feel difficult to me because it’s not my regular behavior. I’ve been acting from a people-pleasing mentality for so long that it’s difficult to shift.
But here’s what I’ve learned – I no longer have the option of putting my mental health last. It’s literally a life or death issue for me, and I spiral out really quickly once I’m on my way. It’s no joke. I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, or how they feel about me doing what I need to do to keep myself in a healthy place mentally. I either take care of myself, or I’m not here anymore. Nothing else can come before that. I’ve put everything before my own mental health for so long that I no longer have any bandwidth to spare.
It’s not ideal, feeling this fragile, but it’s my current reality. I need a lot of flexibility, freedom, time and space if I want to truly rebalance, and I’ve just never felt I can give that to myself. I’m always too afraid of things not working out, not having money, and not being able to support myself. But because of that mentality, I have burnt myself out to the point where I can’t seem to recover without taking drastic action.
So what if you shift your whole dynamic and recognize that your mental health has to come first or you cannot live your life optimally in any other area? What if you finally admit to yourself that keeping balance within yourself needs to be top priority, because nothing else really matters if you’re coming into it from a state of dysregulation and trauma conditioning?
I’ve made a choice – I have to be unapologetic about taking care of my mental health above all else. It doesn’t matter if others understand or if it upsets them. It doesn’t matter if they judge me or think I’m selfish or weak. I can’t control their reactions. I can only control my own mental state, and I have to keep it centered and healthy.
You can make the shift into prioritizing yourself and moving out of a state of constant exhaustion, burnout, and overstimulation. I have faith that you can make the change – and I believe that it’s essential to your health and your future. Take care of yourself, insteaed of spending so much energy helping everyone else that you are left drained, empty, and frustrated.
You’ve got this. I love you. I believe in you. You are worthy, and you are enough exactly as you are.