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Sometimes, we tend to put people on a pedestal and put ourselves last. It often happens when we’re unaware of it until it affects our lives. In this post, I wanted to let you know that it’s okay to be selfish, and I’ll explain why.

In this post, I wanted to remind you of the importance of putting yourself first. There are ways that you can start putting yourself first without hurting other people’s feelings. First, we’re going to look at why it’s okay to be selfish and how you can help others without neglecting yourself.

Is being selfish bad?

In Emmerance’s words, being selfish is when someone is living life by putting their interest first. Selfishness can be wrong in different situations, like when someone is friends with you because you have something they need: a good network, money.

In this post, I’m not talking about being selfish to use other people. I’m talking about being selfish for your own good, setting boundaries that will limit your friends or family from taking advantage of you.

It’s okay to be selfish when you don’t want other people’s burdens to become yours. 

In the book the Richest Man in Babylon, there’s a parable of a donkey (ass) and ox. The purpose of this parable was to show how borrowing and lending are more than just passing money from one hand to another.

One evening, the donkey went to see the ox. The ox complained to the donkey how hard his labour was. The ox said to the donkey, “I work hard morning until night, no matter how hot it is or how tired I get. On the other hand, you’re trapped with a colourful blanket, all you do is bring the master wherever he wishes to go, and you rest and eat green grass all day.”

Since the donkey was nice, he decided to help the ox. He told the ox to pretend that he was sick the next day so that the master can let him rest. When tomorrow came, the ox did what the donkey told him. 

Since the ox’s work couldn’t stop, the master decided to make the donkey do the ox’s job. The donkey worked from morning until night, doing the ox’s work. 

When the night came, the donkey went to see the ox. The ox thanked the donkey for the wise advice. However, the donkey was not pleased because now he’s the one that was exhausted from the strict labour. 

The donkey insulted the ox, called him lazy and told him to start working by tomorrow because he heard the master say they would send the ox to the butcher if the ox is still sick. From that night, they were no longer friends.

The moral of this story is; if you desire to help a friend, do so in a way that will not bring the friend’s burdens upon you.

Sometimes, wisdom comes from learning from other people.

As explained in How I Became Wiser by Reading This One Book, I don’t believe that you become wiser with age, but by learning from other people’s experiences. 

In the book The Richest Man in Babylon, you can apply many of its parables in different areas of your life, even though it’s about finances.

It’s not just borrowing and lending money that you can apply the donkey and the ox story in your life. There are other areas of your life that you can use this too. You have to know your limits; how far are you willing to help other people without turning it into your burden?

Sometimes, we find ourselves being the donkey.

Often, I find myself in other people’s issues even though I had no business being in it. It’s in my nature to help, but I wasn’t smart when I was helping. I let other people’s drama affect me. Their problem became mine.

Putting other people first was like a hobby to me. I did it all the time without knowing it. My life’s choices weren’t mine. I’m sure that you’ve done this many times too.

Just like the donkey in the parable above, all I wanted was to help, but I ended up lifting their weights and hold it for them.

I remember someone coming to me for money issues. They were telling me how they were struggling financially and that their employment wasn’t paying them enough. They had big financial goals; they wanted to buy a car and start a business. 

Then one day, the same individual came with another issue; they complained about how they always had to help a family member. They lent their hard-earned money to their brother, and now the person isn’t paying them back. 

Be selfish when you can’t help other people.

I hear these kinds of issues often. People either get into someone else’s relationship issues, and then they become the problem. Or, just like my clients, get into another burden because they helped another person.

The main reason people get into other people’s problems is that they think they can help everyone. The hard truth here is you can’t help everyone. You’re not a superhero to do so either. 

When you try to help everyone when you’re not in a better place yourself, you get into deep trouble. Not everyone is the same but beware of the friends or family members who always complain about their issues. You have to know who you’re helping, and you make sure that you’re in a better place.

When you keep putting other people first, you’re only wasting your time. Gain wisdom by understanding that you can’t help everyone, especially if that person isn’t willing to get out of that situation themselves, on their own will.

It’s okay to be selfish when it comes to taking care of yourself.

I’m trying to say that it’s okay to be selfish, don’t put yourself in a situation where you don’t belong. Don’t go helping people if you can’t help yourself. 

You have to LEARN how to take care of yourself first. Learn how to be financially, emotionally stable to help others, or learn how to take care of yourself first before taking care of others. Whatever area people come to you for help, you must make sure that you’re in a better place and see if you won’t hurt yourself before helping.

In Steve Harvey’s book, “Think like a Success, Act Like a Success,” he explained the following: When you’re in the plane, and the plane is ready to take off, the flight attendant performs the security instructions. They explicitly state that when the air mask comes out of the plane’s roof, you have to put the air mask on yourself first before you help the person next to you. That spoke to me, and I couldn’t agree more.

Make sure that you’re in a better place before helping other people.

Before helping the other person with their issue, make sure that you have your mask on. Make sure that you’re protected and you’re able to breathe before helping the other person.

There are two types of people that we often help. The one who complains about everything, and isn’t satisfied with their life. And, the other one is the one that always asks for favours. Both types can drain your energy if you’re not careful.

There are many ways you can confirm if you’re not putting their burdens on yourself when you help others. However, depending on the situation, you have to make sure that you’re in a better place before accepting or offering to help someone. It will ensure that it’s safe to help.

Other than that, you have to make sure that the other person is willing to help themself. If the person is always in the same situation repeatedly, this is a red flag. You have to be conscious of who you’re dealing with.

If you’re not in a better place or the person isn’t willing to help themself, then you have the right to say no. Since you cannot help, make sure that you don’t put the other person’s needs before yours. Say no, take care of yourself first, and then you can offer to help others when it’s safe.

Learn how to say no.

Saying no to someone is a muscle. It’s something that you have to learn to say if you’re not used to saying it. You can practice saying no or use synonyms of “no.” 

I saw a post on Instagram the other day. The post went like this “someone: can I borrow money from you? Me: No,” then it says, “who agrees?” and I agreed with the post. 

You might find the post harsh or my response heartless. You’re probably saying, “what if that person needs the money?” Whatever reason the person might have, emergency or not, the person that asks to borrow money should be ready for the other person to refuse.

I learned from my money management that if I can give the money away, I can lend it. I can only lend money if I can give it away; this means that I will be okay if the person doesn’t give it back.

It reduces the stress and worries that the person might not return the money. Besides, it reduces my chances of being in a difficult situation. And I find that I can practice the saying “give without expecting a return” when I give money that way.

It merely means that if I can’t give my money away, even if I have it, I will say no. It would help if you did the same. If you’re not in the right position, you have to stop expecting the other person to give you back the money.

You can apply this technique in other situations too. When you’re not in the right place, don’t lend a hand just to put yourself in the wrong position. You have to think about what you need before giving. If you don’t have enough, say no. 

It’s simply Okay to be selfish.

I want to let you know that it is okay to be selfish; it’s okay not to go out because you don’t feel like it or your bank account tells you no. It’s okay to cancel a girl’s night out last minute because your mental health requires you to stay home and take care of yourself.

It’s okay to take care of yourself first and let other people take care of themself. Do what PLEASES you. Don’t go around in circles trying to give an excuse. Tell your friends, family, husband, wife, kids why you can not help them. 

Be as straightforward as possible with your answer, for example, I’m sorry, I can’t give you the money you asked for, I am working on something that requires it. Don’t let people borrow money that they can’t give back. Don’t let them waste your time and energy if they’re not willing to leave that unhealthy relationship.

Honestly, it would be best to focus on your well-being, mental health, physical health, and finance.

There’s a limit to what you can do, and you have to know that limit. If that person isn’t working on bettering themself, isn’t listening to your advice or doesn’t even try to change, stop wasting your time. Say no and take care of your business.

I’m not telling you not to help others, but you matter. You have to know the areas in your life in which you need help. If you’re not stable in that area, why help others? Even if you are, why are you going to waste your time on someone that’s not willing to help themselves?

I hope you enjoyed this post. Comment and share, especially if you know someone that’s not taking care of themselves and put others first.

Check out The beauty of Self Love Series:

How To Maximize Your Singleness

Ways To Value Yourself

Reasons Why You Should Never Settle Down

How To Be Happy Single

Let’s Talk About Standards

Choosing Yourself

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