When someone puts their needs first, there is the chance that they will be described as selfish. Whereas, as if they put other people’s needs first, they may end up being described as selfless.
And although these are only two of the options that someone has, they can end up being seen as the only options available. It is then not possible for them to put their needs first and to be there for others.
To be seen as selfless can make someone feel good, and this is because they are likely to receive approval from others. The down side to acting in this way is that one will have to ignore their own needs.
There is the chance that other people will show them respect, but at the same time, it is going to be hard for them to respect themselves. The reason for this is that they are neglecting their own needs in order to fulfil the needs of others.
If one is seen as being selfish, it can end up having a negative effect on them. This is partly because it is likely to stop them from being approved of by others.
The upside to being this way is that it may be possible for them to have their needs met. The amount of respect that they receive from others may decrease, but they will be able to respect themselves.
When someone is so focused on the needs of others that they end up disconnecting from their own needs, they are going to be compromising themselves. Now, this is not to say that one will realise this; as it could take place just outside of their awareness.
They can then going to end up feeling down without knowing why, and while this pain could be regulated by pleasing others, it won’t be long until this pain appears once gain. This is not to say that someone should never compromise, but if this is something that always takes place it is going to cause them to suffer unnecessarily.
It is going to be harder for someone to put their needs first when they need to please others. In this case, they are still putting themselves first, but it is their need for approval as opposed to the other needs that they have.
So although they can come across as being selfless, this is nothing more than an illusion. Behind their need to please others is an even greater need to be accepted by them, and because this need is so strong, they are willing to ignore their own needs.
The Other Side
However, if someone always puts their needs first and doesn’t think about the needs of others, it is going to be a sign that they are out of balance. This is because life is not just about taking; it is also about giving.
And in order to be in balance, it will be important for one to have moments in their life where they are there for others. Yet, even though one is there for others, it doesn’t have to mean that they are ignoring their own needs.
A Closer Look
It is then not case of one having to be selfish or selfless; they can put their needs first and take care of other people’s needs. When this happens, they are not going to end up running on empty, and at the same time, they will be making a contribution to the world.
This doesn’t mean they will be taking care of other people’s needs because they want to please them; it is going to come down to the fact that being there for others fulfils their own needs. They are still being selfish, but it could be classed as a ‘higher’ form of selfishness.
Their actions are generally going to be defined by their need to fulfil their needs, and not because they want to look good in the eyes of others. If their needs were not being met, it would be more or less impossible for them to truly be there for others.
There are still likely to be people to label them as being ‘selfish’, but then this is just part of life. What will matter is that they will be honest with themselves, and this will play a part in them being able to live a fulfilling life.
Alternatively, if one is out of touch with their needs, their life is generally going to be defined by their need to look good in the eyes of others. They are then going to be there for others, but they are not truly there for them.
The view that people have of them is not going to relate to their true self, it is going to relate to the false self they have developed. And due to how long they have experienced life in this way, they may believe that it is who they are.
At a deeper level, they may believe that the only way for them to survive is to put other people’s needs first. It then won’t matter if they are aware of their needs; as they are not going to be able to fulfil them.
This could mean that their needs were overlooked during their early years, and the only way for them to survive was to please the people round them. They would have seen their needs as something to be ashamed of and they would have disconnected from their true self in the process.
In order for someone to let go of their false self and to embrace their true self, it will be important for them to mourn their unmet childhood needs. As this takes place, they will start to feel different and their outlook will change.
This is something that can take place with the assistance of a therapist and/or a support group. Through this, one will be able to be affirmed for who they are and this will be an important part of them being able to be themselves
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 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.