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Christy Matta, M.A.Christy Matta, M.A.
A Blog on Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness and Stress Reduction

Put Yourself on Your Priority List

Christy Matta, M.A. Updated: Jan 11th 2012

Do you make resolutions to improve yourself, but never stick to them? It's all too common. But maybe your reason for not sticking to resolutions is not lack of will power, but a failure to prioritize your own well-being.

questionnaireMany people, women especially, find themselves caring for others, while neglecting themselves. We get wrapped up in the daily demands of activities such as work, child care, tending to an aging parent and upkeep of the house and lose ourselves.

Thoughts that indicate you may be too far down your own priority list include telling yourself that "other people's problems are more important than your own" or that "I can't stand it if someone gets upset with me."

If you suspect that your sacrificing your own well-being to accommodate other people's needs and demands, it may be time to make a change.

To do this, make a list of your own priorities. These are the things that are important to you, deserve your attention and make life meaningful and fulfilling. They can include your spiritual needs, your need for intellectual growth or your health and wellness needs. Once you've made your list, identify your top three priorities.

Now make a similar list, but this time, focus on those needs and demands of others that you find take up your time and energy and take you away from focusing on your own priorities. You may want to jot down items as you go through a typical day. Notice demands, such as washing dishes, mundane tasks at work, volunteer work, responding to email and preparing meals. Once you've made your list, identify three or more tasks that you can simply not do (sometimes we get stuck doing things because we feel we "should" but no real harm will come from skipping them) and those you can give to someone else.

Giving unwanted tasks to someone else can be difficult, but it is possible. Initially you may get some flack, but you can ease your load, say by training your children to clear the table and load the dishwasher, negotiating with a spouse to pick up some of the household chores or delegating some tasks at work.

Once you have given up some of those demands from others, be sure to replace them with your own priorities. Making a new habit takes time. Pay close attention for several weeks, to ensure that new demands don't creep up on you. Once you've made a habit of including yourself on your priority list, you'll be better able to say 'no' to other people's demands that interfere with your ability to take care of yourself.


Christy Matta, M.A.

Christy Matta M.A. is a trainer, consultant and writer. She is the author of “The Stress Response: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Free You from Needless Anxiety, Worry, Anger, and Other Symptoms of Stress.” She is intensively trained in DBT and has designed and provided clinical supervision to treatment programs, including a winner of the American Psychiatric Association Gold Award. Matta has a Master of Arts in counseling psychology from Boston College. For more on her consultation and trainings visit her web site For more tips and mindfulness tips and strategies visit her blog

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