You’ve been staring at a screen all day, you didn’t take a lunch break, you’re already late for yoga class, and you have a pile of papers to read before tomorrow’s 9 a.m. meeting. Just as you’re getting in the elevator to leave, your BFF texts: Can u meet for a drink? I really need to talk.
Uh oh. You’ve turned her down a couple times this month, and you know she’s going through a tough time. Do you skip yoga because you’re a good friend? Set tomorrow’s alarm an hour earlier to skim those docs over breakfast? Or do you just tell your friend (again): Sorry. I love u. But I have a ton of work and really can’t tonight.
Balancing our own needs with those of our loved ones can be tricky. Too much people-pleasing can foster depression and anxiety (not to mention resentment!), while a complete disregard for others just makes us narcissistic jerks. Add technology to the mix, and the desires, preferences, and requests of everyone else can feel endless, muddying the already-fraught decision of when (and how) to prioritize your own agenda.
Knowing when to put your needs first—and which ones should take precedence—is a constant and ongoing process between yourself and others.
“Knowing when to put your needs first—and which ones should take precedence—is a constant and ongoing process between yourself and others,” says psychotherapist Beverly Amsel, Ph.D. Of course, this doesn’t mean demanding what you want every si…