Many of us put the needs of others before our own needs. We completely understand that feeling and in no way are suggesting that you should ignore everyone else and only focus on yourself. At the same time, you shouldn’t ignore yourself while focusing on everyone else.
The analogy which best explains this issue is the announcement made during a commercial airline flight. The airline will advise you that in the event of a loss of oxygen, masks will drop down from the overhead console and that, if you are traveling with a small child, you should affix your own mask before doing so for the child. At first this seems almost cruel because our natural instinct in such a situation would be to first take care of the child. In reality, if the circumstances are such that if the child passes out while masks are being affixed, the adult who followed instructions and made sure to affix his or her own mask will be able to help the child. If the situation were reversed, the child would be unlikely to help the adult.
Being good to yourself involves the same type of analysis. In order to truly be at our best for our families, friends, and other responsibilities, we have to take care of our own needs. Unfortunately, its not quite as simple as a split-second decision to first put on your own oxygen mask because each of our lives is an ongoing process. We have to figure out how to handle all of our obligations while also remembering to be conscious of our own needs. Always keep in mind that it is the latter of these seemingly competing interests – the need to be good to yourself – that allows us to be at our best in order to be able to handle all of our other responsibilities. Some people awaken early each day to work out, meditate, read, engage in a journaling practice, or any one of a number of other activities, while others stay up late at night to make time to perform these types of activities. The point is to figure out what activity or series of activities we need to perform on a regular basis in order to be good to ourselves, determine the best schedule in which to do so, and then to be consistent in performing these activities.