Taking Responsibility for Yourself: Promoting Your Happiness

You may have fallen victim to your daily routine becoming a series of tedious demands and unfulfilling obligations.

Kid’s soccer games, mowing the lawn, pick up the dry cleaning, visit your mother-in-law, do the dishes, take the dog to the vet, clean the house, buy a bunch groceries…We are all bombarded everyday with tasks, people, work, and obligations that make demands on our time and energy. It’s easy to let these things dictate your existence.

Taking care yourself is something most preach, but have trouble practicing. We don’t take our own medicine. Your happiness is just as important as anyone else’s. You can be a role model to others so they watch you and see you care for yourself and they learn to do the same. But this is hard.

You need to put limits on your demands in order to care for yourself. Many of my clients will say that this is selfish, but it’s more about self-preservation. How can we care for others, contribute to the people and priorities in our lives, if we do not care for ourselves first. Who cares for the caregiver? Who provides for the provider?

It’s a good intention to put others first, but they learn that you will always be there to care for their problems, so they never care for themselves. It’s like when you were in grade school and someone cheated off of your test. They got the answers right, but have no understanding as to why. The more you solve others problems, the less able they are to care for themselves. It’s hard to watch people struggle, but that is how they grow.

We need to allow others to be accountable for themselves and take ownership over our own happiness. I tell my clients to choose to do something that they would have passed up for concern of what others might think. We can decide that we have as much right to do it as anyone else. We can catch ourselves about to discount it as “scary,” “pointless” or “frivolous.” These are obstacles from our past, which prevents us from changing for the better. We can also catch ourselves about to reject this opportunity, because it might not turn out perfectly. Instead, we can agree it doesn’t have to.
Many people are not used to putting themselves first in their own lives, but it is entirely appropriate to make ourselves a priority under these combat conditions. We are not being selfish. Selfish begins and ends with you. You take care of yourself and let everyone else be damned. Self-preservation means, “I take care of me so I can be there for everyone else.”
To be a good husband/wife, father/mother, son/daughter, brother/sister, friend/employee; you have to care for your own needs first. Self-preservation is like when you’re on an airplane and they go over the safety instructions. Selfish is only putting your air mask on while everyone else chokes. Selfless is putting everybody else’s air mask on while you choke. Self-preservation is putting on your air mask first so you can the help those around you.

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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