Why Do Some People Prioritize Other People Over Themselves?

Why Do Some People Prioritize Other People Over Themselves? why do some people prioritize other people over themselves?
Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash

Do you frequently find yourself prioritizing the needs and desires of others over your own in both your personal life and relationships? Picture this: you tirelessly ensure that your partner, children, and friends have the finest things, the utmost care, yet when it comes to yourself, you’re content with the leftovers. You even feel bad about yourself or feel guilty when you take care of yourself but when you take care of others you really feel somewhat okay and feel that’s how it’s supposed to be. You just want to be the last priority and you’re content with that. Why do many of us struggle to prioritize ourselves?

You’ve Learned You Don’t Deserve to Be Top Priority

The main reason is you’ve learned that you don’t deserve to be the top priority. You may have learned that being the top priority or being a priority in your life is selfish.

Or you may have been brought up in an environment where one of your caregivers was always overly giving to others, overly responsible, to the point where they were sacrificing themselves. When we learn these things, we develop subconscious or negative beliefs about how we are supposed to live. And one of these beliefs can be something like feeling undeserving or feeling selfish if you take care of yourself.


So when you have these subconscious beliefs, you’ll tend to do things in life which align with these beliefs. Because our actions, thoughts, and circumstances in the present moment are manifestations of what we believe about ourselves.

If you believe that you’re undeserving of your own self-care, you’ll do things like sacrificing yourself, persevering, or making other people happy at the expense of your own well-being. You really think it’s the right thing to do because you’ve never challenged those beliefs or seen another alternative, it simply becomes habitual. It’s really hard to see beyond what your mind has gotten used to or what you think you are.

Feeling Weird When You Prioritize Yourself

The other thing you will realize is that when you prioritize yourself, even for just a day, you will end up feeling a bit weird or experiencing some uncomfortable emotions. You may feel anxious, stressed to the point where you simply stop prioritizing yourself. When you do something, which is not in alignment with what you deeply belief about yourself, you will experience some sort of discomfort. You will even unconsciously sabotage your own attempts to prioritize yourself simply because it’s challenging the status quo.

Healing is Seeing the Discomfort

That’s why healing involves acknowledging and experiencing that discomfort, because the moment you confront it, you’ll realize that prioritizing another human being over yourself doesn’t truly make sense. Moreover, when you become observant and attentive, you’ll notice that those people you’re prioritizing never really prioritize you, which is quite perplexing, isn’t it?

That’s the greatest starting point in your journey of breaking free from those negative beliefs you have about yourself. Those beliefs are not you, they are things you’ve picked up from your environment or from those people you hold in high regard. You can as well drop them and start prioritizing you. It’s that easy but it’s not that logically easy because it involves some work or some sort of negotiation with your unconscious mind.

Challenge Those Beliefs

One step you can take to challenge that negative belief is to ask yourself why those people you’re taking care of never prioritize you. They rarely reciprocate, often enjoying being seen as important or being prioritized. If you keenly investigate with an open mind, you’ll realize that they also learned about prioritization, but they learned differently.

The Same Coin

Both the one prioritized and the one who prioritizes learn from almost the same environment, but you choose the prioritizing side of the coin while the one being prioritized chooses the other side. You choose heads, and they choose tails, but it’s simply the same coin. Some others have learned to be really selfish, not prioritizing anyone, to the point of being overly independent, which has its downsides as well. But for you, it’s just that you’ve learned to always prioritize others.

Prioritizing Others and Attracting Toxic Relationships

That’s why you may find yourself in an abusive relationship, because in an abusive relationship, you are dealing with someone who mostly prioritizes themselves. And then you come along and you prioritize them, trying to please them, trying to do all those things to make them happy, which will keep you in that relationship. Because you’re now trying, trying, trying, you want to do a lot of things to prioritize them so that you can feel happy.

But no amount of prioritizing others will make you happy, and no amount of prioritizing others will give you inner peace. The only way is to break these subconscious beliefs. That’s where great therapy comes in. That’s where the work we do comes in, helping you break free from that belief. Because without you breaking free from that belief, you’ll lose a lot in life. You won’t live a life where you are true to yourself, because you’re living a life for others.

Instead of living for you, you are living for others.

And of course, people will take advantage of you because they know that you’re the kind of person who will always come through or sacrifice their own peace for others, essentially becoming the martyr of the group. This pattern extends to various aspects of life. When people recognize that you consistently prioritize them, they may exploit you. They may even express appreciation for your ‘kindness’, but what’s the point of being ‘nice’ when deep down, you feel resentful and harbor negative feelings towards yourself or neglecting the person who matters most to you?

In conclusion, you are your own top priority. You understand yourself better than anyone else does; you comprehend the depths of your feelings when you prioritize others and how you’ll feel when you start taking care of yourself. Begin with yourself, and once you become your first priority, you can choose whether to support others or not — it becomes a choice. So when you’re deeply entrenched or hardwired with a belief that prioritizing others is the way of life, it might seem like you don’t have a choice. However, you can consciously choose to break free from that belief.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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