“Every time you say yes to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, “I did it again.””
― James Altucher
Up until my early 20s, I was a “people pleaser” because I’ve been taught by society (parents, teachers, friends, etc.) to be nice to others. By being kind to everyone, I will be liked in return. As a result, my life will be happy and problem-free.
Sounds great right?
Unfortunately, that’s not how the world works. Inevitably, there will be times when people won’t reciprocate that positive energy despite my acts of compassion.
But that’s okay.
It doesn’t stop me from being genuinely friendly to others. I still do it out of sincere generosity.
But in the past, I was doing “nice” things for others because I had a hidden agenda. This may include the following personal gains:
Reward or benefit
However, after going on a long journey of discovering my values, I created my own belief system – behaviors and ideas which are important to me.
Through practicing my merits consistently, I built boundaries in my personal and professional life. In the process, I became more genuine and real.
By honoring my code of ethos, I started living a more congruent life. Now, it’s a constant daily implementation. Everything I do is based on the principle of choosing myself first. By meeting my needs and wants first, I regularly experience fulfillment and happiness. Afterward, I can focus on helping others by giving them my best.
Identify Your Values
To create a strong belief system that is uniquely yours, ask yourself the following questions.
“What is most important to me?”
“What do I value?”
“What can I not live without?”
Finding the answers to the above questions may take some time, but those responses are quintessential to understanding yourself better.
Once you have identified your values, next comes the more difficult part – living them. This means making time for what is non-negotiable for you. For example, if you appreciate your loving relationship with your partner, dedicate time to deepen your connection with her.
Simply saying it isn’t enough. You must express it through action. This requires understanding her “love language” and making her feel treasured.
If traveling is important to you, put it on your calendar and follow through. That’s the only way to make your desires into reality.
And the longer you postpone your deepest wishes, the more you will suffer. That’s because you are suppressing your authentic truth.
The more you resist what’s most important to you, the higher the intensity of pain you will feel. Given enough time, you can “explode” because the urge for aspiration is too powerful to handle. This may cause the following behaviors:
Expressing anger in your relationships, including with yourself
Conducting harmful violent acts in the world
Experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts
The other outcome of restraining your utmost wants for too long is completely forgetting who you truly are. The “essential self” as Martha Beck calls in her book “Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live” can be imprisoned due to the numerous years of confinement. What makes you truly happy and fulfilled has been completely erased from your current existence. Those behaviors have been covered with many layers of “social self” – the person you’re expected to be through years of social conditioning.
However, this process is reversible as you can start to rediscover your true self by delving into your past. Consider the following questions:
“What did I used to enjoy doing but no longer make time for?”
“What ambitious goals did I previously have?”
“When did I feel the happiest and most carefree?”
Despite not having clear answers, you can begin by following your curiosity. As you dive deeper, you can break down those walls and get to your true self.
Live a Congruent Life
After discovering your values, you can honor them by strictly saying “yes” to people and activities that excite you. As a byproduct, you also say “no” those that don’t.
However, there will be times when difficult situations appear. In those moments, ask yourself:
“Does doing this activity or spending time with this person aligned with my values?”
If your answer is not an enthusiastic “yes,” you probably don’t want to follow through.
Going after what you want can be scary and uncomfortable. But it’s necessary for you to experience growth and fulfillment.
Despite feelings of self-doubt and fear, you can choose to act with courage.
That’s because you come alive when you take risks – when things are uncertain. In those instances, you will experience the biggest development.
But when you behave out of alignment with who you are, you’ll feel uneasy. Doing things against your values brings discontent and dissatisfaction.
It’s equivalent to having a crooked spine. If your back is not straight, you’ll feel aches. However, when each vertebra has been adjusted and put back in its rightful place, you’ll be pain-free.
The same is true for your life.
You will feel complete when you do things that are important to you. That sense of accomplishment by unleashing your full potential gives you meaning and satisfaction.
By choosing yourself first, you are developing a healthy relationship with yourself. The word “selfish” has a negative connotation in society. But to me, it’s about self-love, self-care, and self-respect.
You must put your priorities first to be in a positive state. Only having done that, you can be more effective in everything you do, which may include the following:
Improve the quality of personal and professional social interactions
Increase productivity and excellence at work
Become more present and mindful in your daily activities
As you can see, by taking care of yourself first, you will become more powerful. And as a result, everyone around you will also benefit.
I am on a mission to help 1,000,000 people, but I can’t do that without your help. Please share this article with anyone who you may think will find it valuable and helpful.
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