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Balancing Act: Choosing Self or Others

Updated: Mar 6

Have you ever found yourself caught between the push and pull of prioritizing people over plans, or vice versa? It's a dilemma many of us face in our daily lives, where the ideals of putting others first clash with our own needs and aspirations. Recently, during a visit to my daughter's house, I stumbled upon a scenario that sparked a reflection on this very issue.


Arriving at my daughter's place, I inadvertently disrupted their plans for the evening. They had intended to hit the gym with friends at 9:00 p.m., but it wasn't until 9:30 p.m. those plans came up in conversation. While I apologized for the disruption, their response struck a chord: "People are more important than things," they said. As I reflected on the moment, I questioned if prioritizing others at the expense of one's own plans is always an act of love. The words were loving – we were more important than the gym. But ultimately this is a prioritization between people, not people and plans. The gym was the “plan” but it’s about the people that were going to benefit from that plan.  


In a world where we're bombarded with messages about the importance of selflessness and putting others first, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that we, as a person, are also deserving of consideration. My daughter and her husband, like many of us, had prioritized someone else above themselves—a scenario that often leads to resentment, potentially hindering the growth of relationships.


Now, don't get me wrong; there's immense value in being flexible and accommodating when circumstances call for it or if the desire is truly genuine. However, it's equally crucial to recognize the importance of self-care and setting boundaries. After all, how can we authentically prioritize others if we neglect our own well-being in the process?


I'd like to share a personal insight. I thrive in a clean and organized environment. As a young mother, I would hear comments like, “please excuse the mess, I’m prioritizing my children.” Shame emerged because I had a tidy house, thus I was not prioritizing my children. It appeared that it was a children (people) vs clean house (thing) - a distracting lie I didn’t recognize for many years. An orderly house was something important to ME, a person. A person of equal importance - not more important, but also not less important either.


The prioritization issue can be questioned even further because I rose earlier than my peers to attend to my needs while still fulfilling the needs of my children. By fulfilling my own need for an environment conducive to my desires, I believe I demonstrated greater love and care as a parent than I might have in a chaotic setting.


This nuanced interplay extends beyond our personal lives and infiltrates the workplace as well. Consider the scenario of a dedicated employee who constantly puts in extra hours to accommodate the demands of their team, only to feel burned out and unappreciated in the long run. Or the manager who always says yes to last-minute requests from higher-ups, sacrificing their own work-life balance and ultimately breeding resentment towards their superiors.


So, how do we traverse the intricacies between prioritizing others or ourselves? It begins with a fundamental shift in mindset—one that acknowledges the inherent value of both ourselves and others. It's about fostering a culture of mutual respect and understanding, where empathy and compassion serve as the guiding principles.


It's not a matter of choosing between other factors and ourselves; rather, finding harmony between the two. It's about recognizing that by honoring our own needs and aspirations, we're better equipped to show up fully for those around us.

As we navigate the complexities of prioritization, remember, true fulfillment stems not from sacrificing one for the other, but from finding a delicate balance that honors both ourselves and those we hold dear.


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1 Comment

Mar 07

This really hits a chord with me. I have had mighty wrestles like this with requests/demands from church and family. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately and your blog post gave me more fodder for thought. Thanks! (Ana)

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