- devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
2. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself:
The dictionary definition doesn’t really come across as a positive trait to have does it? But is it really all that bad to want to take some time to yourself and reflect on you as a person, how you dealt with a situation and could have maybe dealt with it slightly better?
I don’t think so! In fact it is essential for your own well being and personal development
How can you give your all to someone or something if you don’t believe in yourself? Do we not ask for the best from ourselves all the time, in every part of our lives? It is exhausting to keep up with the constant expectations of perfection. Be it on Facebook, at work, the school playground or with our inner circles. Why are you living your life to other people’s standards? Do you even know what yours are?
I hear it all the time when I am helping clients to write their bridge models or set their goals.
“I don’t have time to get to the gym because I work full time and I feel bad if I am not at home with my partner/children/cat/dog”
“I don’t have time to exercise because when the children are at school, that is when I get all the chores done”
“I feel guilty to go out with my friends after working all week and not seeing my partner very much, it’s hard to choose and make the right decision and split time for myself”
“I am too tired to go out to exercise after I have taken care of everyone else”
All I am hearing is pressure to do what everyone else thinks you need to do and you putting your wants and needs to the side so that other people get what they want from you. When was the last time anyone asked you what you wanted to do, or asked if they can help you, or if you are ok? We live in a society of takers and as the mum/dad/adult in your situation, the expectation is that you will be ok with this and will just accept that you simply don’t matter enough to be a priority.
I call bullshit!!
What would actually happen if you were to say no to some of the daily demands put on you, what if you decided to go out with your friends for coffee and have a giggle rather than do the laundry?
Nothing, that’s what! You might feel guilty because it hasn’t been done but it doesn’t change the fact. It is perfectly ok for you to be appreciated, to be among equals, to have fun and laugh and you certainly don’t have to feel guilty about doing it. What has changed in your life to make you think it is acceptable to be treated like a second-class citizen? It is your life, so go and live it to the best you can.
What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? – Bob was great, he always made sure the clothes were washed and ironed, didn’t take the promotion at work because he thought that his mate Jim deserved it more, his house was always clean and in perfect order
Bob, WOW, this guy was an inspiration. He always listened and offered advise because he knew what he believed in and was always respectful to himself and others. He always made time for you with no expectation in return and made you feel better. He always knew where he was going and had an element of calm about him. He really lived his life the best way
The differences between these 2 are the thought process of Bob. In scenario 1 he is allowing people to take from him with out giving back, he lost himself to everyone else and accepted his lot. The second one Bob is a much stronger and seemingly focused yet caring soul. Which would you rather be?
It is about time that you stop. Yes stop.
Grab a pen and a piece of paper, or another way of making notes.
Page 1: Current situation – write down everything you do for other people, on a daily basis, over the course of a week. Examples could be, make breakfast, help with homework ………..
And then in a different colour pen, write all the things that people do for you.
Be honest and spend some time observing. Really pay attention to your behaviours and the tasks you are doing. Are they to benefit you and only you or does someone else get the benefit of what you are doing? Scary isn’t it.
(it is ok if this take some time, it is hard to pay attention to everything you do)
Page 2: Ideal situation – Write down everything YOU want to do in a week. If work, children, family weren’t included, and you could have a week to yourself. Examples could be not setting an alarm, eating the food I enjoy, catching up with my pals, training, watching a tv show without interruptions. Everything in this list should be about you, your wants and needs to feel good.
So, page 2 looks amazing right? I can already hear you screaming at me that it will never happen because ……………………(fill in the blanks appropriately)
But, my point is this. You have just spent time thinking about what you need to feel better and written it down and it looks great, but you are already making excuses as to why it can’t happen. But the reflection time you spent deciding on what to write was essential to you being able to make changes. I know that your ideal week with only you to think about is not a realistic goal, but can you not choose a couple of the points to bring forwards into your current situation? Wouldn’t it be nice to not feel guilty about having time to yourself?
This brings me back to the reason for this rant. You are not selfish if you want to have some time to yourself when you are always doing things for others. It is important for your mental health to feel loved and wanted but there is a very fine line between being taken for granted and being appreciated. You juggle so many different parts of your life and we are all on different journeys but we all regard being selfish as a bad thing. Hopefully, I can help you to see that having time to yourself and putting your health and goals first will make you a stronger better person for those you love and care for.
It is ok to ask for help and say no to the things you don’t want to do. That feeling of empowerment the first time you say no will open your eyes to the power and control you actually have in your life and that these changes can happen now.
The reason I chose to write this comes back to the first poll I did on my group, I asked what people try to put first : family and friends, food prep, training plan, work.
Unsurprisingly, most people put family and friends.
I could like to dig deeper as to why, but I will save it for another day.
Was it social conformity, not wanting to pick the other options because they are selfish or was it a genuine choice, I will let you be the judge of that.
Is it selfish, or is it self-improvement?
I challenge you to write your current situation and ideal situation down.
Share it with someone, it can be me, it can be your partner, it can be a friend, doesn’t matter. The point is, that by sharing it, you now need to do it.