How To Put Yourself First? You Don’t Owe Anybody Anything

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the people around me and how they impact how I move among them daily. The mind is a powerful tool and sometimes a very dangerous one. The mind can make up all different scenarios that, more than likely, won’t even happen; I realized this by starting my spiritual journey. I had to take my emotions out of the equation at hand and really look at certain situations for what they really are. Most of the time, situations are a cause and effect, meaning an action resulting from your or others’ actions. That’s how I started putting myself first when it comes to life and not feeding too much into people’s negativity. Let’s figure out some ways not to over think about situations but, better yet, put ourselves first.

Ever since I could remember back in the day, as a young kid feeling everyone’s emotions around me. Not realizing that I was over-sympathizing, other people’s emotions would stick to me like glue, and I had no idea why. “Why do I feel so drained at this moment right now, but this morning I was happy?” I remember this one situation in particular. I was in middle school and had this one friend that I now consider a leech. At the time, I thought we were friends; we’d always hang out. Whenever you would see me, you’d see them; we were two peas in a pod. I ended up being that friend everyone always confided in. Being a supportive friend, I’d always lend an ear and be there for them until it became excessive.

Having no boundaries then, sometimes I wouldn’t have the room to take on their baggage as well as mine. But because I was a ‘good friend,’ it seemed their emotions were more important than mine. Come to find out, after a year of being her friend, people around the school told me she was bashing me to other classmates. For a while, I’d end up in these friendships where I’d be pouring into these people, taking their baggage, but nothing was reciprocated. As I got older and headed towards adulthood, these situations turned me into a very closed-off person. Making up situations in my head that all my friendships would end up the same, I’d grown cold. Then my Saturn returns happened in the house of health, and when I looked for camaraderie, there was no one; it was literally like the movie Ghost of Girlfriends Past. I had to evaluate how’d I end up like this? What was the root? And I got my answer.

Now that I’m older and I’ve done shadow work, I’ve realized that it was mainly due to low or no boundaries but also having over-sympathizing qualities. Some call this quality an empath, and I truly do feel that empaths can have healthy boundaries and compassion towards their counterparts. But if that empath lacks boundaries, that is just a recipe for disaster. Social media is hell-bent on giving empaths negative character traits that can apply to almost anyone: people pleaser, perfectionist, procrastinator, self-sabotages, etc., to name a few.

But most importantly, everyone almost forgets the other side of empaths. They’re people who ended up like me. Because I had so many negative experiences with friendships, I’d end up being closed off, cold, having a wall up, not giving anyone a chance, and somehow also taking value in how other people felt over my emotions; why, you might ask? I didn’t understand the concept of over-analyzing situations, looking at things for what they truly are, and establishing boundaries at any point in the friendship.

My so-called friend from middle school was emotionally dumping their emotions onto me. Not because I was a good friend but because she had no regard for what I may have been going through. Granted, we’re in middle school; how was I supposed to know what was going on? Either way, those types of friendships attached themselves to me because I had no idea what the warning signs were. I was hell-bent on being a good friend or what I thought a good friend meant. As I got older and have done many prompts of shadow work, my thought process is what needed to change. I was so worried about losing a friend that I made up all these situations about how I could be a better one, not realizing that they didn’t give a damn. We stopped being friends of their accord.

That’s when it clicked. Each person I’ve had a negative interaction with, ended the way I thought it would, which just pushed me to set better boundaries in the beginning. We stayed friends because of my actions and my thinking: “I need to be there for them because they feel bad right now,” I’d say to myself. Or, “I’m not going to say this because they need support and understanding right now.” These self-talks became regular rhetoric for me to the point where I was dismissing and disregarding blatant disrespect; people, you give them an inch, they take the whole mile. And when I realized that, I became a whole savage. I’d gain and lose friendships just like changing my underwear daily, and it became nothing to me. Watching and listening for the signs, I was more mindful of whom I was calling a friend, and if an existing friend crossed a boundary, I’d make sure to say something right then and there. Here are some warnings signs to look out for with pre-existing or new friendships:

  • Feels drained after conversations
  • Does not pour back into you
  • Always talking about negativity or entertaining negativity
  • Does not respect when you say no
  • Tries to make you feel bad for establishing a boundary
  • Doesn’t respect your boundaries
  • Does respect your space
  • Emotional dumping
  • Always bringing up drama
    • Also wrapping you up in unnecessary drama
  • Gets mad and stops communication when boundaries are spoken about

So let’s go over what we already discussed. In order to put yourself first, you need to understand how you are of value. What makes you feel that you need to put somebody else’s feelings over your own? How can you establish your boundaries better? And within doing this and asking yourself these questions, you can set better boundaries and have better relationships around you.


By Anaya Thomas

Writing has always been my passion and even though we were always on again, off again, I finally feel like I found the sweet spot on what I want to say

2 replies on “How To Put Yourself First? You Don’t Owe Anybody Anything”

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