To get ahead in this busy world, you have to put your own needs on the backburner once in a while.
But that doesn’t mean you should keep them there until they start to boil over.
No matter how giving of a person you are, you should always be looking out for number one. Above all else, this means admitting you’re a human being with certain needs that must be met before anything (and anyone) else.
There’s no shame in that. Acknowledging that you’re not a superhero is humbling, and it’s also healthy. It allows you to operate with a realistic outlook on life, with the understanding that there will often be times in which you’re completely powerless, and the best thing you can do is simply look out for yourself.
1. You Skip or Neglect Your Basic Needs
Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs makes it clear: Neglecting the importance of self care will eventually destroy you.
On a day-to-day basis you might not see a problem with skipping breakfast because you’re running late, but when doing so becomes habitual you’ll be missing out on vital nutrients that keep you energized throughout the day.
Similarly, you might try to delude yourself into thinking you can run on four hours of sleep, but over the course of just one week you’ll end up missing an entire 24 hours of rest.
If you’re skipping meals or losing sleep, you’re not going to be able to work to the best of your ability. Unfortunately, even if you’ve been sacrificing your own well being for your job or career, the only thing your boss will notice is this decrease in performance.
Keep up with your basic needs so you can attend to the things in life that require a higher level of focus.
2. You’re Always on Autopilot
Whether you call it the rat race or the hamster wheel, getting stuck in a vicious cycle of eating, sleeping, working, and repeating is dehumanizing.
When each and every day is so exhausting that all you can do is take care of the basics, you’re not really living, at all. You’re simply going through the motions as if you’re a robot programmed only to serve.
But you’re a human being. You need time to sit back and fulfill your emotional needs. You need to spend time in deep thought. You need to experience life and the world around you instead of letting it all pass you by.
Even robots need to recharge once in a while.
3. You’re Always Doing Something for Someone Else
There’s nothing wrong with being a giving person. Lending a helping hand to others is what builds relationships and communities, and keeps the human race striving for peace.
On the other hand, giving too much of yourself will eventually lead others to start taking advantage. When people see you’re willing to bend over backwards for them, they’ll test the limits and see how far you’ll go before you snap. The worst part is, since you’re such a giving individual, you won’t even realize they’re taking advantage of you until you’re too invested in their needs to back out.
The best thing you can do is to just say “no” sometimes. Recognize when others are asking too much of you, and simply tell them you can’t help them right now. Showing a little backbone in the present will save you from snapping in the future.
4. You’ve Lost Touch with Friends and Family
When was the last time you spent time with the people you actually care about?
When you’re too giving of yourself, you end up spending way too much time dedicated to coworkers, colleagues, and bosses who mean absolutely nothing to you on a personal level. Unfortunately, this means the relationships you do care about end up suffering.
While you do have certain duties at work and in life that need to be fulfilled, none of them can compare to the duty you have to yourself and your loved ones. Which are you more likely to remember in ten years: The times you stayed late at the office to get a head start on some paperwork, or the times you spent playing catch with your kids in the backyard?
5. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Had Fun
Speaking of playing catch, when is the last time you forgot all about your earthly worries and just had fun?
If you really can’t remember, something is definitely wrong.
Many of us fall under the impression that “fun” is something kids have before they enter the real world, at which point your life consists of work, work, work. Some of us mistakenly define ourselves by the amount of work we do and the sacrifices we make.
We all make sacrifices, but that doesn’t mean our entire lives should be dedicated to making money and slaving away behind a desk. We should work to be able to enjoy the times we have away from our jobs.
Spend some time doing what you love. Go for a hike. Grab some ice cream. Hit some balls at the driving range. Do whatever you can that, for at least a short period of time, helps you remember what it’s like to be a kid again. You’ll thank yourself for it.
6. You Don’t Feel Like Yourself Anymore
This is it, right here:
Neglecting the importance of self care can lead to you truly forgetting who you are. What your dreams and goals were. What you always thought your purpose in life was.
And it’s incredibly disheartening.
When you no longer know why you’re getting out of bed in the morning. When you go through your day looking forward to sitcom reruns at night. When you can’t even enjoy those sitcoms because you know the next day will be more of the same.
When this realization hits you, you need to take action immediately. Take some time for yourself. Figure out what you need to do to get back on track in life. Whether this is a change in careers, or a weekend away with your loved ones, do whatever it takes to start feeling like “you” again.