You come first! I repeat... YOU. COME. FIRST!!!
This discussion has a few layers to it, and let's start here: Until you take care of yourself, you cannot take care of anyone else. Now, that extends to the deepest possibility of that in the sense of... until you are loving and gentle with yourself, you cannot be that way with others.
On a more day to day level though, this putting others before ourselves comes up constantly as friends, family and coworkers invite us to things or ask us to do things that we just do not feel to do. I repeat: That we just do not FEEL to do. Notice I did not say want.
I don't care what you want to do, and neither should you.
What we all need to care about is what we FEEL to do. As I wrote in this piece that was featured by Ram Dass, what we feel is an indication of what we desire, and whatever we desire is what is meant for us and what is aligned on a Universal level. On a basic daily level, what that means is that if we don't feel to do something--if something does not feel right for us--we shouldn't do it; it means there is something more harmonious for us. And if we DO feel to do something, please go with it!
Trust your feeling sense and trust yourself. No one can tell you what is right for you but you. Obviously, when it comes to work, we may certainly have obligations—and that can be a challenging feeling to deal with, but hopefully we all nurture ourselves to balance out those have-to's. But for everything else, please follow the mysterious call of your heart; please follow the simple song of your energy that PRECEDES you and leads the way.
How to do this is simple: just check in with yourself. Take a few deep breaths and bring your energy into your heart and body. Then, once you are feeling relaxed, imagine the scenario that you are deciding about. To go forward with it, does it feel right in your body? Maybe it makes you feel a little nervous to imagine new love or a new job or adventure, for example, but if the experience or person is right for you, then the knowing will still be there. Feel into it. What does your body say? Yes or no? Trust it without need for explanation.
Another way we experience this on a daily basis is by the specific belief that we need to be there for other people or put others before ourselves. To that, I say SIMPLIFY! Does it feel right to you to go to her house and bring her soup? Does it feel aligned for you to drive him to the airport? Does it feel like it is working for you and expanding your heart to hang out with this or that friend tonight or does it feel more right to stay in, light a candle, take a good bath and nurture yourself?
As for children and partners, sometimes it feels completely irrational that we would "feel" to be there for them when we are at our wits ends with them! But in those hard moments, I encourage you to look deeper for I am sure you will find that past the emotions and the frustration, there is a nugget of love and compassion... and that it serves you—more so: that it serves you profoundly, deeply, unequivocally—to be supportive of them with all of your glorious heart.
Indeed, when you put yourself first and respond with that which serves the expansion of your love, your heart, or simply feels right for the mundane moment, what you will find is that everything else takes care of itself. When you do what's right for you, you will be supportive of the ones you love NOT out of a sense of obligation, but from the natural flow of your heart. And if you don't feel to do this or that for or with this or that person, then please, honor that, because there will be someone else or something else that will work out even greater for them.
All hail the mighty guru within.
Love xx Tehya Sky