There are some households where everything revolves around one person.
Maybe a family member is chronically ill, addicted to substances, or just has a tendency to run the whole show. In any case, what you learn from a young age is to always focus on someone else. Stay small. Don’t rock the boat. Make sure everyone is happy.
And sometimes focusing entirely on someone else feels good at first. Self-sacrifice is often celebrated as one of the ultimate acts of love or altruism. People may even compliment your selflessness. But over time, it drains you. Exhaustion, depression, and burnout can set in. You find yourself beginning to crave things like time, space, sleep, and support.
But if you take that step and reach out for what refuels you, suddenly the guilt sets in. You may wonder, “Am I selfish?”  Tuning in to your own needs or harder yet – standing up for those needs, is, after all, making it about you, right?
When you’re used to ignoring what you need and how you feel, it makes sense that taking care of yourself feels unnatural. Thankfully, self-care and selfishness aren’t the same thing – though at first it may be difficult to tell the two apart. Selfishness means thinking only of yourself to the exclusion of others, or even to their detriment. Selfishness says, “I’m better than everyone else!”
Self-worth says, “I’m equal to others.” It involves respecting yourself as a human being, recognizing your limits, and honoring your boundaries. Self-worth recognizes that it’s okay to take breaks, get a bite to eat, and say no when you need to. In the same way, it honors and respects the needs and boundaries of others.
Of course, sometimes your needs will conflict with someone else’s. Self-worth acknowledges that everyone’s needs matter, including yours, and seeks to make a compromise. That may mean choosing to sacrifice some of your needs at times to prioritize someone else’s – but that’s just the thing. It’s a choice, not an obligation. Choosing to sacrifice your rights isn’t the same as believing you don’t have any. And self-worth also allows others to make the same choice to prioritize your needs over theirs sometimes.
How do you figure out what rights you have?  Check out this list of personal rights and see what stands out to you. Which ones are easiest for you to claim? Which are the hardest? Keeping the list on hand or posting it on your fridge or mirror can help remind you what healthy self-worth looks like.