Pay Yourself First – It Pays Off

Anything you do requires energy. And everything you do creates energy. Anything. Even reading this article. You’re spending energy by focusing on the text, processing the info in your brain and matching it against what you already know. At the end of this process, you get some energy back in the form of new ideas, new approaches or possibly some answers. Hopefully, you’ll get some positive energy by reading this :- ).

Have you ever thought what happens with this energy you get back? How much of it you really use? How much of it you discard unconsciously? We’re usually thinking in spending patterns rather than in receiving patterns. We think: how much it will cost me to do this, or how much I will have to give to make this happen. But we almost never think in terms of: what’s the reward of doing this?

I know what you’re thinking: you think I’m heading towards the “what’s in it for me?” mindset. Well, this is not what I meant. The “what’s in it for me” mindset is a form of egotism and selfishness. It’s a way of getting things without paying for them, or paying as low as you can. I’m talking about something else. I’m talking about a mindset of receiving and not stealing. A mindset in which you’re thinking what type of energy you get back. It’s almost like thinking in terms of a diet: how many calories I will get out of this meal? Close to this subject, I wrote a while ago quite a popular article about psychological calories and how we can differentiate between positive and negative psychological calories, feel free to read it and then come back. This article is on the topic somehow similar to that.

The Receiving Pattern

Receiving energy from what you’re doing is not as easy as it might seem. For starters, I don’t think we’re paying all the attention we can to all the energy we’re receiving. Most of the time we know in advance that our energy exchange will provide some kind of value back, and we’re focusing only on what we already know.

You may spend the whole day at your job, and you’re receiving a weekly paycheck. This is all the energy you get back. Or, to be more specific, this is all the energy you think you get back. In fact, you’re receiving much more. You have some daily interactions with your colleagues, with your clients or with your employees. Maybe you travel a lot for business purposes. Or maybe you do a physical work and your body is thankful for that.

Receiving energy needs your full awareness. We’re exposed to a a million energy sources every day, but our valves are closed. Our awareness is focused only on our habitual patterns, we’re expecting energy only from certain sources and we’re constantly ignoring the other sources. Being aware means opening your energy valves to everything that may feed you. Opening your understanding and your consciousness to every potential encounter. Because every interaction is an energy source.

Energy Leaking

Suppose you’re having already an energy receiving strategy. That’s only half of the journey. Why? Because even if you’re into a receiving mindset, you still have one serious problem: energy leaking. And why is that? Well, the answer is so simple, yet so difficult to digest: because you’re giving it away.

Even if you do have a lot of energy coming back to you, there is still a popular mindset which will make you weak, and that is: fake altruism. Don’t get me wrong, caring for others is empowering and nurturing, I’m talking about a situation in which you put others before you. The powerless altruistic guy. The one that is ignoring his needs because he needs to serve others.

I may offend you here, but I’m so totally rejecting this type. Whenever I meet somebody who claims he puts others before himself , I take a step back. There is only one thing worse than a guy who claims he puts others before himself and that’s somebody who really does this. When I meet this kind of person I take two steps back. And, one step here, two steps there, I’m all dancing around, trying to escape the fake altruism wave.

Because this is a wave, this is almost fashion. Everybody is altruistic these days, everybody is reaching out to help others. Everybody is starting a campaign to help the ones in need. That’s ok folks. As long as you’re not neglecting your very own needs. Because I really don’t see any point if you’re doing this. I find it even worse than egotism and selfishness.

Pay Yourself First

You can’t really help others if you don’t help yourself. You’ll get out of resources. I’m not talking about genuine giving and gifting, which comes from a mindset of abundance and ease, I’m talking about this forced attitude of making yourself a slave of others in the name of some social or religious percepts that you may not even understand.

If you’re giving away all your energy, you’ll end up weak, vulnerable and defeated. You don’t want to do that. Being really altruistic is caring for yourself as much as you care for others, not neglecting your very own individual for the sake of some fuzzy concept about “the others”.

Paying yourself first is an act of responsibility. Taking care of what you and your closest want is also an act of responsibility. It all goes from within, not from without. If you’re not completely healthy and powerful from within, you can’t project something valuable outside.

If you’re letting the energy you receive go away under the false premises of a fake altruistic approach, you’re doing more harm than good.

You can’t really help people if you’re not strong enough.

You can’t support somebody if you’re not supporting yourself.

You can’t give something if you don’t have it.

27 thoughts on “Pay Yourself First – It Pays Off”

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  7. Hi Dragos, Excellent article. I so understand this whole thing, We live in a society that can condition us that we are “bad”, selfish, greedy or uncaring if when we simply try to take care of ourselves, when we refuse to overextend because we are exhausted and so forth. I see this in people all the time. They drive themselves almost to the point of collapse or insanity trying to do all the things they feel are expected of them. I’ve done this myself, but no more. I think Christmas is a prime example of this. So many many people over extend trying to do all this “stuff” for other people, even when they are ready to drop. Many of our religions teach people to put others first. I am all for giving and am extremely generous, but I have stopped over extending myself to the point I become ill. And people don’t always like that. They want you to be there “for them” and they want you to be there NOW! Lol!!

    This had been a hard lesson for me to learn to say, “No more.” I have to pull back and take care of myself or I won’t be any good to anyone. In fact, I will be a drain on others if I am sick. Due to certain social and religious edicts I think we are also conditioned to believe that we are failing or “bad” when we take time out to care for ourselves.

    My husband has this saying where he tells me, “Teach people to slow down by example.” Meaning that when we don’t do everything instantly or when people necessarily want it, they have to learn patience, waiting, slowing down, etc. When we feed into all the demands of RIGHT NOW we are simply enabling something that really isn’t good for any of us.

    Thank you Dragos for such a great post,
    .-= Robin Easton´s last blog ..What’s the Latest Score? =-.

    • Great comment, Robin. I was there too, and I guess everybody was. There are millions of people there as we speak… The power of saying “no” to energy vampires was like a second birth for me. 🙂

  8. Dragos, fantastic article. I agree almost 100%. This stuff about putting yourself first is so true and yet so many people don’t get it. When you don’t take care of yourself what happens? YOU become a burden on other people. Rule #1 on how I can best help my fellow human beings is to not be a burden on them in any way. I will take care of myself and my family first. By doing so I will likely achieve the abundance that allows me to share with others.
    .-= Stephen – Rat Race Trap´s last blog ..Simple Genius =-.

    • I completely share with you this autonomy thing, being on your own and always ready for anything. It really helps with addiction of all sorts too.

  9. Wow, I think this is the most powerful article of yours I have ever read, and that’s saying a lot. Paragraph #3 really rocked, but it just set the scene for what followed. I have a feeling some may take issue with a few of the points but only if they fail to hear what you are actually saying. The truth is, you can’t give what you don’t have. Disputing the fact doesn’t change it, giving energy, or anything else means you must have it to give. ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT.
    .-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..Why Is It Called the Comfort Zone? =-.

    • thanks for the nice words 🙂 Never thought it would be my best, I save the vanity of thinking that my best is yet to come 🙂

  10. Hi Dragos,
    A very good message (or a reminder) about the necessity of practising
    love and quality.
    The quality of love.
    Our thoughts, our choices and, finally, our actions will be supreme if our love is unconditional.
    The love of quality.
    Our life will be rewarding if we commit ourselves to the deepest understanding what it is to share the best.

    And we can love unconditionally and share sincerely only if we have all this within – without doubt, greed or fear


    • great point, especially the absence of greed or fear. They cannot exist in a self-loving individual: if you already have all you want and enjoy it, why being greedy pr fearful?

  11. Smart people may give away a free sample but desperate people may give away the whole store!
    It sounds a little new-age-ish but some altruistic people out there are only disguised “energy vampires”.
    .-= Doru´s last blog ..Against being original! =-.

  12. This is a wonderful article – Dragos.

    Do you know the saying, ” You complete me” ?
    Granted, sounds romantic but I hate that expression!

    This is the phoniest statement, I have heard.

    A person can not complete another person. Each of us are individuals with responsibilities to our self. If you don’t love yourself how can you completely love someone else?
    I hope, I am not sounding egocentric here. I feel if you love your self – you have self respect and this will spin over into what you do. Freely loving and protecting all living things.

    Care to dance ; )
    .-= Bunnygotblog´s last blog ..17 Sexy Commercials: Advertising Towards Dummies =-.

  13. That’s true. You can’t give out what you haven’t inside at first.

    When you REALLY love and accept yourself first, virtually nothing can stop you. Since by self accepting and caring, you can remove any form of externalization of power. Like seeking for approval. Like seeking for allowance. Like qualifying.

    The consequence is that you get your mind free from bullshit and can direct your focus on what you REALLY want. Thus you act with unstoppable magnetic confidence, and what’s more, playfulness. Yes, having fun. No fun = no engagement. Taking all too seriously is unnecessarily energy draining.

    I think all is needed to reach any goal and enjoy every moment of the life journey is to understand that paradox: you need nothing (to stay fine and move on), so you can get anything (by moving on and learning on the way). So all that comes to you becomes a blessing, and you have in abundance to spread out.

    PS: Jesus said “love others AS yourself”.
    .-= d1d0´s last blog ..Your Standards Shape Your Life =-.

  14. Totally agree with you here. I’m all for altruism and altruistic people. I’m personally committed to altruism. The problem is when people wrongly define what it takes to be altruistic – they think it’s about putting others first, living the life of a starving artist, being poor and doing work for free, etc. But when they do that, they are just jeopardizing lives they can help, because they’re not even making their own lives sustainable. Being truly altruistic is understanding what it takes to help others, many many others – and that’s first taking care of your needs.
    .-= Celes |´s last blog ..Away On Meditation Retreat =-.

      • hat on on this one, as Jonathan said: “They think it’s about putting others first, living the life of a starving artist, being poor and doing work for free, etc. But when they do that, they are just jeopardizing lives they can help, because they’re not even making their own lives sustainable.”


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