“The perfect man of old looked after himself first before looking to help others.” — Chuang Tzu

When it comes to meeting people’s needs, you must start with yourself. You must dedicate time every day to meet your needs. I recommend scheduling a 2-hour block of time where you can work on yourself.

For example, if you need better relationships, you must make this a priority. You may read books, talk to a therapist, and model good relationships. (I did all three.) You may begin to take what you’ve learned and watch TV shows and movies with a critical eye, looking for examples of good and bad behaviors.

Or maybe you need a new career, better health, or financial stability. Or your needs may be wildly different.

Whatever your needs are, you have to figure out how to meet them. Everyone else is preoccupied with meeting their own needs; they have no time to meet yours.

Now, when I talk to people about this, they often have some objections:

But Stewie, this is selfish!

Yes, it is selfish. Saying, Yes to yourself means saying, No to others. And that’s OK. You are important, you matter, and you deserve some focus and attention on what you need. It is perfectly reasonable to give yourself two hours a day.

Furthermore, meeting your needs will benefit the people closest to you e.g. improved relationships, financial stability, or meeting existential needs.

Don’t use the but-this-is-selfish bit of reasoning as an excuse to not meet your own needs.

But Stewie, I don’t have any time to focus on my needs!

Our lives are busy, overflowing with work obligations, to-do lists, family commitments, and unfinished projects at home. The last thing you want is to be held responsible for one more thing.

So what can you do?

The obvious solution is to slash time spent on television, social media, and video games. After that, start saying, No to other people, and get up earlier in the day.

But let’s go deeper: Is it possible that you fill every waking moment with activities and obligations as a way to avoid meeting your own needs? Perhaps you question your own value and if you really matter. Maybe the thought of doing something solely for yourself floods you with guilt and shame.

But believing that you are a worthwhile human being is essential to making time for yourself. And making time for yourself is the only way to meet your needs.

But Stewie, I have legitimate reasons for not being able to meet my needs!

I understand, I really do.

You may have some limitations that make it harder for you to get your needs met. (I know I do!) You may suffer from fatigue, stress, or poor health.

You may be disabled, suffer from the effects of poverty or abuse, or be a victim of structural racism and bigotry. These are all very real hardships!

You may have grown up in a family that punished you for trying to meet your needs. Your brain may have marinated in television programming that taught you all the wrong ways to connect with people.

In no way do I want to discount or diminish the struggles you face.

But the harsh reality is that no one is going to save you. No one else is going to meet your needs. Every other human feels overwhelmed with their obligations and responsibilities.

Only you can meet your needs.

Be well, my friend.

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