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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “treat others how you want to be treated.” It’s one of the very first things you’re taught as a child in elementary school. And while yes, you should treat others how you expect others to treat you, what we aren’t told in elementary school, is that you also have to take into consideration how you treat yourself.

You’re taught to not be selfish and to always think of others, but that can’t always be the case. You deserve some self-attention and care and that does not make you selfish. Taking care of your needs and putting yourself first is important to how you interact with others and how they interact with you. After all, how can you expect others to treat you kindly when you aren’t kind to yourself? You’re setting the example of how others can treat you with the level of compassion you show yourself.

Yes, compassion is great and something we should have for others, but it’s just as important for us to be compassionate to ourselves. This is especially true for those of us who always think of others and neglect our personal well-being. But it’s not healthy to always be there for others and to completely ignore our personal needs.

Learn your limits and know that you are well within your right to say no if you find yourself to be too exhausted to help. It does no one any good to try and help when you’re barely holding on and running on empty. You can only give so much of yourself to others before you find yourself struggling to continue the way you have been.

You deserve to be treated the same way you treat others. You deserve the same amount of compassion you show others. So learn to do this for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a quick turn from your usual pattern, but rather with small steps.

Allow yourself to rely on others

As someone who struggles to be as compassionate to myself as I am to others, I find this to be a really big struggle of mine. It is something I’m not used to doing, I usually deal with things on my own.

But it’s necessary for us to be interdependent on others and not just solely independent beings. To be solely independent leads to feelings of loneliness. But relying on friends to offer support the same way you offer them support is one small way towards learning to be compassionate to yourself.

Put yourself first

Choose one way in which you can put yourself first and do it. This can be choosing to protect your mental health by not participating in the problems of those around you that will only serve to negatively affect you. Or, it can be buying yourself an indulgent treat, whether that be a cupcake or a refreshing face mask.

Don’t focus on feeling guilty

Guilt comes easy to me when I feel I’m not being as caring as I can be. But the truth is, I have been as caring as best as I can, and I have nothing to feel guilty about for choosing myself. I know that I’m a good person who tries and gives their best.

If you find yourself feeling guilty for putting yourself first, that’s okay. Allow yourself to feel that guilt and then realize that it’s not your obligation to fix others’ problems or to play therapist for someone in need. Move on from the guilt and focus on something that will bring you joy and make you feel better. Soon, you’ll see that you’ll start to feel less guilty about putting yourself first and become more secure in who you are as a person.

Treating yourself the way you want to be treated will better improve your life.

Alexa is a third year English major at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her ambitions include being a best-selling author and successful blogger. Interests include: listening to music, exploring, and reading.
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