I have a theory that goes as such: the advice that we much enjoy giving is on subjects that we are the least qualified to talk about.

For example, I find myself frequently dishing on the topics of friendships and relationships, even though I wouldn't be considered a "social butterfly" in either of those settings. My general lack of knowledge led me to question, what makes a good friend? This led to: what makes a good girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse, sibling, coworker, mother, father? And the answer I finally came to was this: In order to be a good "fill in the blank," you have to put yourself first.

Now I know this sounds selfish. We don't like the idea of putting ourselves above the needs and desires of others, but I truly believe that the only way we can give effectively to those around us is by first taking care of ourselves.

One of my close friends and mentors once said, "The Dead Sea is dead because there is no life pouring into it, therefore no life can come out of it." She was referencing our need to be in connection with God and others who will grow our faith so that we can disciple and give life to the people in our community. But this saying can easily be expanded. If you aren't receiving life in the form of your passions, dreams, spirituality, and calling, then it's going to be very difficult to love others fully. Taking care of your mind, body, and soul first ensures that you are able to give freely and generously to the people you care about. And this ultimate act of "self-care" isn't selfish.

Staying home from that party, distancing yourself from that friend with toxic thinking, spending a few extra minutes getting ready in the morning... none of those things make you selfish. I think most can agree that the things listed above wouldn't make someone inherently a self-centered person, but what about the bigger decisions in life? What about taking a job that moves you away from your family or giving up time with your kids to go back to school? Even with big choices like these, you should put yourself first. I am a strong believer that following your heart and dreams makes you a better person, and by pursuing what you want with your whole heart, you are giving your loved ones the best version of yourself...

...the version you know they deserve.