There is this amazing thing that happens to us once we hit a certain age, we begin to put EVERYONE’S needs in front of our own. For some people, that age is 6 and for some that age is 36 (& there are the few that never, ever give a F about anyone else – they’re in their own special category that has nothing do with this article but may need a good booty whooping into reality), but it is amazing what happens to you when you stop putting yourself first – or ever putting yourself anywhere at all. You lose who you are, who you once were. You get to a point where you are running on empty almost always – and that is simply because you are doing nothing to bring light and energy to your own life. We all get it – we have very busy lives – jobs where the old school 9 to 5 hours are laughable, we have kids, we have a spouse/significant other, we have needy family or friends, animals, charities, neighbors etc. But what about you? I know personally I can feel selfish or guilty when I want to do something for myself – whether taking time to work out, or get a massage, or go for a walk by myself or go see friends without my family. I sat with this selfish thing for a long time, and then I realized, since when did being selfish become such a negative thing? Why do we look down on someone who wants to do something for themselves. A terrible stigma has become attached to the word selfish. Being selfish, at no point, means you care less about anyone else. Let me say that again, BEING SELFISH, AT NO POINT, MEANS YOU CARE LESS ABOUT ANYONE ELSE. At no point does it mean that you will stop doing things for others. “You’re being selfish by doing _____” “GOOD FOR ME! I deserve to give a fuck about what I want to do too, I’m not hurting anyone by doing something that makes me happy”
About 11 or so years ago I ran a group called Motherless Daughters – based off of the book by Hope Edelman, there were over 500 members and we held meetings around once a month or so. The meetings would have only 10-20 people in them each time and we would go around talking about personal issues we were having surrounding the death of our mothers. One day one of the women in the group started talking about how she had a male friend that she was worried about who was going through the same thing. She kept asking if she could bring him and I kept explaining that it would change the dynamic of the group and she asked “isn’t it selfish to keep this group just to motherless daughters and not to sons as well”. I struggled with this answer for a while – there is a unique special bond that a daughter has with their mother (just like there is a unique and special bond that sons have with their mothers) and this group was specific to women who had lost their mothers. Finally, I turned to her and said “yes, yes it is selfish and that is OK. I am OK being selfish for me and for every woman that comes into my home for these meetings. I am OK at allowing us to be selfish if it means better healing and getting to a place where we need to be”. That is when it hit me – it is OK to be selfish… only recently have I really started thinking about it again however.
Being part of a school (IIN) that makes you take a step back and really has you look deep into yourself, deep into the parts of your life that enrich you, deep into the world that makes you excited to live your life and step out of your door each day – that has brought in the feeling that being selfish is something that I want to be proud of. I’m not talking about selfish like I keep all the candy after the piñata and you don’t get any, or the villain in our fave 80’s cartoons, I’m talking about being selfish like this is fair because me making myself happy will, also, make everyone else happier. You find time to do the things that are important to you and it will, somehow, expand the time that you have to do other things – I don’t know how that works, but it does. You live your life with more ease.
So, do me a favor and do something for you today, try to do one thing that makes you happy each day – FOR YOU. Now, don’t forget about loving other things in your life too that you do for others- but look at how much more positive those things seem when you give yourself a bit of time and love for yourself.
Remember, when you’re on a plane, put your mask on first – because only after you help yourself are you truly able to help anyone else.