The more relationships we have and the closer those relationships are, the more priorities we can have. As you rise in the business world or in society, maybe find a partner, maybe have kids, it can be easy to lose yourself as a priority.
Healthy relationships work as a network of support that allows you to live while not being your own top priority because you become the top priority of other people in that network. While you may not be your own top priority, you need to always be a priority in your own life. If you don’t make sure that all of your needs are met, it can be harder for you to meet the needs of those people or ideas that you have prioritized.
If everyone in your life seems happy but you feel miserable, it may be time to ask yourself “Am I a priority in my own life?”
Do You Have Time for Leisure Activities?
Look at your schedule. Obviously, things like work probably take up most of your waking hours. The more family you have, the more of your time they may take up. But you do have time for yourself, right?
This doesn’t have to be the time that you are alone, but it should be time that is spent doing something that you enjoy. Maybe that is being by yourself, reading a book. Maybe it’s going out with your friends, or time that you spend exercising.
This is your time, but because it can still involve other people. If you have a significant other, she or he can significantly eat into your you-time. Consider bringing that person along to do some of your favorite things. You may find that it meets your personal needs while bringing the two of you closer together.
Have You Already Started to Think about Leaving Certain Commitments?
Usually, when we start to feel burned out, we start to feel a little more aggressive – or at least a little less enthused, about certain aspects of our lives. Usually, these are the low-priority things that we keep doing because they crept into the schedule and set up shop.
Usually, these are things that you started doing a long time ago but are no longer important to you. Sometimes they are things that you signed up for without really knowing what you were getting into. If you feel like you are no longer a priority in your own life, it may be time to end some of these activities.
This can be hard. It may feel like you are letting people down. As discussed above, however, if you aren’t meeting your own needs, it becomes difficult to explain the needs of others. Explain this to anyone who will be affected, and they will probably understand. You may also want to offer remaining with the organization or practice but taking on a role that is less demanding of your time and energy.
Have You had a Vacation Recently?
Of course, it might be best to slow down a little bit. Before you take an axe to your schedule, try to take some time off. From everything. Maybe you are still a priority and you’ve just been busy lately. Maybe you don’t need to remove obligations or find a new hobby, you just need to lay in the sun for a bit.
Is it More Serious than That?
If you started feeling this way shortly after a major life change, keep an eye on your other feelings too. Sometimes what you might think is just fatigue could actually be depression or even post-traumatic stress disorder set off by a major life event like a death in the family or a car accident.
If the feeling persists for more than two weeks, talk to your primary care provider. She or he may be able to help you determine whether you are just burning the candle at both ends or whether you have an emotional disorder that requires further care. Talk to your primary care provider right away if you have thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Losing yourself as a priority in your life isn’t a serious problem in most cases. For the most part, it just means that you need to carve out part of your schedule to get in a little bit more you-time.