How to choose myself after a lifetime of self-neglect?

Choose myself

How do I choose myself after a lifetime of neglecting my own needs?

Anxiety, stress, exhaustion, lack of time, overwhelm, and demotivation—these can all result from prioritizing other people and things above your well-being. What can you expect from others when you choose to place yourself as second best in your very own scale of values?

If you’ve heard me speak recently, you’ll already know I’ve been obsessed with the unwavering belief that self-love is the key to a fulfilling life.

It’s a simple concept but tricky to practice, at least at first, until it becomes second nature. Up to that, it’s a moment-by-moment conscious choice.

If this is your first time around me and you haven’t read or heard me, fear not. Cause here I go again emphasizing the importance of choosing and loving yourself. 🙂

Trust me, it’s worth it.

Before I realized the significance of self-love, it often felt like I was temporarily soothing my wounds, making some progress but falling back down each time. It was exhausting. Without even being able to put a finger on what was the missing part in all my efforts.

Trust me when I say I was actively working on it. I’ve always been a seeker lightworker with an above-average education and intelligence. I won’t go on advertising myself, but I want you to understand I was not wishy-washy about getting ahead. Conversely, I was going above and beyond to heal what I needed to, and yet healing was invariably one more step out of reach while my outcomes were getting more and more out of whack.

Until I understood suddenly, I still vividly remember the precise moment it hit me.

I have seldom loved myself nor chosen myself my entire life.

Almost heard it inside my head.

I still carry the hangover from reaching this understanding point of view and starting to act accordingly, indeed.

But it’s a beautiful pain. Sorter. Growing pains? I’m sure.

During my healing journey, while looking for answers to my deal with stress, anxiety and all health, wealth, and “existential” related issues, I went through extensive travelling, which somehow organically evolved into some form of pilgrimage. So, promptly, I found myself spending long periods alone, whether meditating, travelling, driving long distances, or sleeping alone in some faraway place without any known face around.

During one of those long, tear-filled trips, I had a profound realization about the many ways and circumstances I had not chosen myself until that moment.

I yearn to share these truths with you because I have a hunch you relate to some of these experiences, and they may be good food for your thoughts.

In how many ways are you not choosing yourself? How do I know if I choose myself in what I do?

You can start by answering the following questions:

Are you putting yourself last?

Self-neglect often creeps into our lives, not in grand gestures but in the small, seemingly insignificant choices we make every day. It’s a slow, gradual process where we unknowingly push ourselves down the priority list, leaving ourselves for last.

Consider the times when you opt for the cheapest item on the menu or store, austerely denying your cravings so others around you leisurely order what they truly desire.

There may be other instances when you suppress your needs, not voicing what you truly want, because everyone else seems to have their own plans, and you choose to accommodate them. It’s better they’re happy.

Being considerate of others is nice. Just be careful that these acts come from a real need, not an undeserving attitude or unworthiness.

I’ll tell you a story of mine:

Time ago, I caught myself taking second place, even when I could have found something I thought could cure all my woes. Let me illustrate this for you.

Once, when I first read “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk, I was fascinated by the idea of neurofeedback. I’m aware I mention this book and expert a lot. But there’s a good reason for it: it’s a masterpiece on understanding and alleviating human suffering.

Let’s continue. I strongly believed my newly discovered neurofeedback would straighten me out once and for all, and I would get rid of the huge amount of stress I was dealing with and a thousand plus one other things.

And guess what I did. You won’t believe this, I know.

I found the only person at that time offering the service where I live (a two-hour drive from home), and then…bought a package of 30 very expensive sessions for my mom.

I convinced myself she needed it more urgently than I did. And this is where I need you to pay special attention.

Did my mother need those sessions more than I did? She probably did.

Was she seeking or asking for help? Bingo. You bet she wasn’t.

Why was I postponing my long-desired and sought-after healing, putting it behind that of someone who hadn’t even asked for it? Why didn’t I choose myself?

I delved deeper and want to list here some of the things that both my personal path and spiritual search, as well as my training as an energy healer and traumatic and systemic therapist, have taught me so far about the reasons why I didn’t choose myself til later in life.

I have a hunch some of you neither do until now:

So, why don’t I choose myself?


We often put ourselves last because we feel or believe we don’t deserve to be well or have good things happen to us. For whatever reason.

Choose myself

Are you occupying a place that doesn’t belong to you?

In your systems (current or original family, work, i.e.), you might be taking on duties, powers, roles and responsibilities that are not yours.

Spoiler alert: this will never work out or turn out well. Don’t even try it.

And if you are already doing it, leave that place.

Learn this: whenever you occupy a place that does not belong to you, you leave your place either empty or occupied by someone else.

Burdening yourself with the problems and responsibilities of others keeps you busy and gives you a perfect excuse not to solve what you know you need to solve but don’t want to.

Are you trying to live as a herd?

It goes something like this:

Each and every one of the tools, improvements, aha moments, courses, Ted Talks, opportunities, ideas—I’m almost tempted to say “exorcisms”—it doesn’t matter what it is; anything good you find, you want to bring it into your flock so all of them can benefit from it and rise together as a collective.

What a wonderful world, isn’t it beautiful?

Yeah, but no. Life doesn’t work that way.

Put your oxygen mask first.

What’s the downside of trying to save everyone? You may ask. That is laudable.

It’s this: if you are in the sea and everyone is drowning, they will pull you down in despair, trying to save themselves. You’ll probably sink before being able to save them. Picture this: you are tired and weak from your own struggle. You won’t have the energy to save others if you are not strong enough. You need to ensure your own well-being to be helpful to others.

The insecurities, doubts, disbelief and lack of faith of others in the solutions or processes of any kind you are proposing, and your understanding will take away from the movement you are making, disempowering and weakening the momentum you may been gaining.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones—whether friends, siblings, family, or partners—while you are not there yet is to surround yourself with people who are already living the way you want to live. That is, Entrepreneurs who have overcome the challenges you are facing, people who have healed along the way from the things you are trying to heal. You can come back and help all of them once you’ve figured out your own stuff.

Otherwise, you’ll be forcing yourself to stay the same by forcing a “well-intentioned” group to uplift and heal. A very covert way of putting others above you again.

Even more. Who is telling you that your people want to change anything in their lives? You are the one eager to do it. Not them, leave them alone.

Are you not in charge of your very own life?

What do I mean by that?

You are probably someone who speaks their mind, so much so that, at times, you may have almost feared that this would be your cause of death (a bit of sarcasm).

Although we girls learn to shut down many things over time, there is no doubt that our lives could have been more comfortable without our big, smart mouths, which got many of us into too much trouble.

But, girl, pay attention again:

One thing is to speak your truth.

Another whole one is to act and live your truth.

It was shocking to me to figure this out and realize: Oh boy, no, I don’t choose myself in my life.

Yes, you might be speaking your mind.

So what? After all, you can be surprised once you discover your life isn’t all yours.

Who is running your life, then?

It’s not you, for sure. Instead, it’s more of a consensus of what the people important to you and around you want, expect, or think you should do in addition to your assumed roles.

You can call it the good girl syndrome—or good boy syndrome, too. I’m sorry, guys, for constantly speaking to my girls.

I rather be whole than good

Carl Jung

Screw that.

In case you are living from that place, sis, move.

We have all been given a breath of life to each one. And we will deliver it separately at the end.

Do not give the power of your life to others. Don’t take the passenger seat in your life.

Instead, ask yourself:

Is this the life I want to live?
And keep actively moving in that direction until the answer is yes.

Experiencing life is sacred, personal and unique.

Your life needs to make sense to you and only you.

And I’m not suggesting that you be reckless or troublesome. Always act from a place of awareness and love, yet live your truth.

Nowadays, when in doubt, I choose myself. This approach has never failed me once.

Are you putting other’s needs above yours?

It’s similar to the first thing we discussed before, but not the same.

Often times, you make many decisions and choices that hurt you but please others. Whether they were clients, family, friends. I’ve talked about it in some previous posts here, where I commented I found out that was a trauma response and explained some ways that can help you get out of that place:

But mostly, what I learned to do and still ask myself and use in my ongoing process of actively reviewing and recalibrating the things that still need improvement in my life is to filter my decisions through this question:

For the love of whom am I doing this?

And you must re-evaluate your alternatives if you are not included in the answer.

Your answers, actions, and choices need to be loving to yourself.

Anything else is abuse and neglect, and it’s against life itself.


How do I choose myself properly?

After a lifelong self-neglecting, you can find yourself feeling unnatural or weird when changing to self-loving patterns. Here’s a list of 5 things you can and must do so you can start saying:

I choose myself from now on

Be worthy.

How? Do whatever it takes.

Know you are worthy. Work actively on training your worthiness muscle. Learn to be worthy. Say it to yourself, write it down, journal it. Breathe into the affirmation of your worthiness. Cultivate the feeling within yourself through meditation. Release the unworthiness feeling from your body through movement.

Observe your roles and ask yourself from what place you are acting on them.

Adjust accordingly. Be honest with yourself.

Find out what are you gaining by not choosing you?

Hint: You are consistently profiting from that. Find your answer and move on from there.

Be responsible for your life.

Regain control of it.

Filter all your choices and decisions through the self-love sieve.

That means you need to be included in the love recipients of them. This is not the same as saying you have advantages or profits from what you do; it’s not about that. It’s that it must be loving to you. You can’t harm yourself to benefit others. That’s unnatural. Ask yourself: Do I choose myself when I choose to do this? Adjust accordingly.

How do I choose myself after a lifelong of self-neglecting

Written by

I'm Arlene, the blogger behind "The Self-Love Journey."My path to understanding life has led me to realize life is a mirror that reflects what you hold dear.Thus, a life you love can only come from the love within. Its absence may lead to all sorts of unwanted results and perceived troubles, but its presence has the power to transform your world.Through exploring life's functioning, human consciousness, energy healing, and philosophical and mystical traditions, I'll guide you to uncover and overcome everything keeping you from loving yourself.One of the tools on which I rely in this process is Systemic Family Constellations, a therapeutic approach that helps to reveal hidden dynamics within a family or other social system.Here to lead you to self-love and create a life you love.Nowadays, I am a systemic family constellation practitioner, healer, and trauma student, and I occasionally consider myself a Civil Engineer M.C.M.I'm also a Free-spirit wanderlust, a mystic girl who loves beauty, nature, laughter, books, optimism, and, of course, loves love.

7 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Your post on choosing yourself after neglecting your own needs really resonated with me, because choosing myself is still something I am learning to do daily. I especially like the Carl Jung quote and will be saying that whenever I find myself falling back into the patterns of “good girl syndrome” as you call it. Thanks for the reminder and the post!

  2. What a beautifully written post! Your journey towards self-love is incredibly inspiring. It’s amazing to see how you’ve turned moments of self-neglect into profound realizations and growth. Thanks for sharing your story and encouraging us all to choose ourselves more often. ????

  3. Choosing ourselves first after a long time self neglect is a real challenge but I am so glad that you were able to come out on the other side victorious. Very practical tips in my opinion!

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