There are behaviours that are seen as good and behaviours that are seen as bad, and what usually defines whether a behaviour fits into the first or the second category is the context. For example, aggression can create a problem in one situation but it can prevent a problem in another.
When it comes to the former, one could use their aggression to cause harm, and, when it comes to the latter, they could use it to protect themselves and their loved ones. In this regard, aggression is neutral.
Another example is putting other people first, with this being good in some situations but not in others. If one had a small child, it would be a good idea for them to feed the child first and then to feed themselves.
However, if one was in a plane and there was an emergency, it would be essential for them to take care of themselves first. Once their oxygen mask is on, they will be able to put the mask on their child; if they do the opposite, their life might end before they are able to put an oxygen mask on their child.
A Common Outlook
However, in the same way that aggression as a whole is often vilified in today’s world, so is putting ones need first. It is as if the moral thing to do is to put other people’s needs first, no matter what.
If, then, one puts their needs first, they are going to be someone who is a selfish human being. It then won’t matter if the put other peoples needs first from time to time, as this won’t make up for the times when they don’t.
A Model Human Being
Someone who disregards their own needs and focuses purely on other people’s needs is then going to be behaving in the right way. When one behaves in this way, it can be normal for them to receive positive feedback from others.
Other people could see them as someone who is only too happy to extend themselves and to do just about anything they can to help. This could mean that one works in the helping profession.
Always On Call
When they are at work they will be there to fulfil other people needs and once they have finished work, they will still have the same focus. If they are in a relationship, they could also focus on their partners needs.
Yet, even though one will generally ignore their own needs, they could still spend a lot of time with a smile on their face. From the outside, it can seem as though this person is living the good life.
Nonetheless, while behaving in this way can be seen as the ideal, the fact is that one is going to be neglecting themselves. This doesn’t mean that one will be aware of this, though, as this behaving in this way could be something that just happens.
If any anger or frustration is able to break tough into their conscious awareness, they could soon end up disconnecting from it. Their emotional self will be trying to communicate with them, but they won’t pay attention to this information.
Out of Balance
Ultimately, one is a human being and this means that they have their own needs. Therefore, just because putting other people first is seen as the right thing to do, it doesn’t mean that this is actually the case.
Naturally, it is good to be able to do this, but it is not good when one doesn’t have the ability to put their own needs first. What this can illustrate is that not only is one out of touch with their own needs, but that they believe their needs are not important.
Coming across as selfless or needless is likely to be what feels safe, with this being a way for them to be accepted by others. There is a strong chance that one’s early years played a part in how they behave as an adult.
During this stage of their life, they may have been brought up by caregivers who saw them as an extension of themselves. Instead of fulfilling ones needs, they would have used them to fulfil their own needs.
One would then have learnt how to be there for others but what they wouldn’t have learnt is how to be there for themselves. This would have caused them to believe that other people’s needs are more important than their own.
Along with disconnecting from their own needs in order to survive, they would have also come to feel ashamed of their own needs. Hiding their needs from others, and themselves as time went by, would have been a way for them to try to make sure that they were not rejected or abandoned.
The Same Scenario
The years will have passed since this time in their life but they will still be behaving in the same way. The only difference is that they will be older and the people they are trying to please won’t be their caregivers.
One may find that a lot of the people in their life are not even interested in their needs, with these people seeing one as an extension of themselves. Until one draws the line and is no longer willing to neglect themselves, this is unlikely to change.
The truth is that one’s needs are just as important as anyone else’s needs and this is why there is no reason for them to neglect themselves. When one is no longer willing to experience life in this way their life can begin to change.
If one is at this point, they may need to reach out for external support. This is something that can be provided by the assistance of a therapist or a healer.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.