Sounds selfish, right? This idea might go against everything you’ve been taught since you were a little kid. The common wisdom is, think of others before oneself. By giving we are really receiving. By being selfless—by losing Ego—we are really gaining ourselves. And by being so generous of our time and energy and resources, there is the added bonus of being momentarily distracted from things that might be giving us depression or anxiety.
But you have to save yourself first, before you set about trying to save a loved one or a stranger or a country or a planet. This is not selfishness. This is logic.
If you are compromised by health problems, unresolved personal issues, resource defecits, low energy, etc.—you are not in your best shape to assist others. If your goal is to help others—and that is a worthy goal, and that might be what we have been all put on this planet to do—then your first goal must be to be in the most efficient and advantageous condition to accomplish this.
You might be the type of person to consistently place the needs of others over yourself. (Or you might know someone like this!) You may overcommit to things, hold back from expressing your own needs, and even not address certain physical and psychological ailments (working on the theory that to address—or even admit to—such things would be selfish).
A great way to tackle this dilemma is to keep in mind that taking care of yourself first is NOT selfish…but, seen through the lens of your inherent selflessness, is simply a way to ensure you will “be there” for those persons and causes you care about most.
To let yourself be worn away to nothing by a type of martyr complex can actually be harmful to all concerned in the following manner—it can produce guilt and a peculiar type of resentment in those you are trying to assist.
And there is one more big reason you should try to save yourself first—to be a role-model for others. To teach others to stop and assess their own present states of being and to determine if they themselves need self-care. This is a vital life-skill.
Just some things to think about if you are the type that sends way more energy out than in, and are feeling particularly ragged.