"You have no idea how promising the world begins to look once you have decided to have it all for yourself. And how much healthier your decisions are once they become entirely selfish."
What does the word selfish mean to you?
How do you define it and where/who did you learn that definition from?
To me, the word selfish used to be so charged with shame and greed that I considered it one of the highest insults. Growing up there was nothing worse my mother/father/teacher/friend could say to me than to call me selfish. It still has a little spark left, but mostly I see selfishness as an important element to my wellbeing. Literally putting myself first so that I can be the giver I love to be to others.
Most people have a very negative association with the word selfish. Culturally, it's certainty not something to strive for, "I'm working hard to become more selfish". Not something you hear everyday, right?
Let's examine what selfish really means and see if we can release some of the negative charge around the word to get a clearer picture of how it might relate to our wellbeing.
Selfish, as defined by the dictionary, is "devoted or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc. regardless of others."
There are certainty negative manifestations of being entirely devoted to one's own interests. Words like egotistic, narcissistic, narrow-minded, and conceited come to mind.
But what would a positive definition of putting your needs first look like?
Maybe it would mean taking excellent care of your health and wellbeing. Perhaps less social commitments and more bubble baths. Or setting healthy boundaries and learning how to say no. Caring for your body and your mental state first-before the needs of others like your family, friends, boss, etc-and then focusing on the needs of others.
What would it feel like to put yourself first?
What would it look like if your needs were met first before all your other commitments?
What would be different about your life now?
The reason I'm asking all these questions is because a common issue that comes up with my clients is making time for their own needs. My clients tend to be loving, giving, incredible women who just want to be of service to others. Many of my clients put their kids needs first or their bosses or their partners (or too many times all of the above) thinking that they are doing the right thing.
What they don't realize is how destructive this seemingly "good" way of thinking can be. Because the side effect of never putting themselves first is almost always a grumpy, more pissed-off version of themselves. This creates the perfect storm for binge eating, fights with partners and/or kids (beginning with "You don't appreciate me enough!"), weight gain, loss of sleep, and lots of stress. Moving down the timeline, this behavior creates illness, fatigue, depression and more because the body is literally forcing them to slow down and put their own needs first.
Can you relate to any of these struggles?
And why is it important to you to be perceived as unselfish?
That's why I love asking this question, "Are you being selfish enough?".
When we put ourselves first, taking good care of our bodies, making time to relax by ourselves, and not worrying so much about the needs of others, a curious thing happens. We become better givers.
Because we are healthier, happier, and our giving comes from a place of abundance not from duty or fear.
Think of an empty teacup on a saucer. Most of us are trying to give from inside our own teacup and are running dangerously low. When we put ourselves first and nourish from the inside out, we are so full we begin to overflow and can give from the saucer instead of inside the teacup.
So here's your homework for the month of August:
Find one way to be more selfish this month and practice it.
Some examples for inspiration: saying no to a social obligation you feel like you "should" go to, going on vacation and not inviting anyone, not sharing your dessert, calling in sick to work and getting a massage, not cleaning up after anyone except yourself, taking a nap instead of cleaning.
Explore what happens to you and those around you.
You might just be surprised at how good a healthy dose of selfishness can be for your health and happiness :)
Let me know how it goes-email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on the blog.
To Mindful Indulgence & Naps in the Hammock-