selfishness vs. self-care

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Selfishness gets a bad rap. It’s a label that is very quickly applied to someone who is thinking of themselves, who is putting their needs ahead of the group. Even though all modern day wisdom confirms that you can’t give to others if you are not taking care of yourself, it’s still gets a negative spin. Without a full view into someone else’s situation you can’t really say whether the behavior is selfish or not. But, no, our human nature gravitates to judgement, and not slowly, it’s a sudden rush to judgement. If you’re like me (and probably most people) you don’t want to be judged, so you resist doing things that might lead to judgement. And while I’d like to find a situation where that is sometimes ok, the reality is that it’s not something you can avoid. Judgement comes from outside reactions and perceptions. You can’t control outside reactions and perceptions. You can’t live in a bubble where you don’t offend anyone. And you cannot perpetually sacrifice yourself for others, not at least, if you want to live a rewarding life.

I read some personality profiles that I had saved on my computer. They were a few years old but still every bit as relevant.

” When you’re doing things for people only to feel valued, you can become resentful. And if you sense that your help is not appreciated, you may end up playing the martyr. So before giving your time to everyone else, make sure to take care of yourself (physically, emotionally, and spiritually). ” Wow. Yup, still relevant.

” Because you’re driven to gain approval, you can find yourself performing for others like an actor; if you become overly concerned with your image, you end up feeling superficial.” Yup, still relevant.

” When you can’t satisfy your thirst for variety and excitement, you may see yourself as trapped.” (um, really? No comment).

” When you feel threatened, or others refuse to go along with your agenda, you can become confrontational and domineering, sometimes to the point of being dictatorial. Practice letting someone else take charge on occasion. Also try meditation; it can help you be-come more aware of your controlling impulses and ease the anxiety that may be provoking them.” (Dayummm!)

The one thing that is a central theme is that doing things for myself is hard. I like to be with others to a fault. I sacrifice what i want to do a lot. To the point, that doing things for me just seems selfish. And in a black and white world, I’ve been taught that selfishness is bad. And maybe it is, selfishness is bad, until it isn’t. When you need to heal, regroup, gather yourself, re-prioritize then selfishness becomes self-care. And it’s hard to rewire yourself so that you are giving to yourself and not just giving yourself away at every opportunity. Selfless sacrifices are all fine and good, but when you are sacrificing so much that you are not leaving anything for yourself, that’s a problem. If you see it before you become resentful then you’re lucky.

Creating a self-care routine for myself is probably the most difficult thing I have done to date. And i’m just getting started. It really is reprogramming myself. To put aside the ingrained views and relationship with money and give yourself the thing you want (not always, but sometimes), don’t hem and haw about money. Get what you want. You want to go somewhere? Go. Don’t wait for someone to invite you or go with you. Just go. Don’t wait for an invitation, extend one. If it isn’t accepted, go anyway. Don’t settle for next best thing. There are many times when you have to compromise. When it’s only you, don’t cheat yourself or sell yourself short. You want to go to Thailand on a yoga retreat? Then GO. Don’t save up for South California, when you want Thailand. It’s not the same thing. Basically, budget yourself into your spending. Make yourself important. Value yourself, your time, your agenda. Those who want the best for you will understand. Those who want to keep taking from you will resist. It’s a very clear way to see where you stand with people.  It’s not about being mean to people, it’s a reprogramming which takes time. You can’t try to change the program and stay tuned to the same channel and same behavior of  acquiescence.

So that’s my battle right now, making self-care the focus of my life without letting guilt tell me I’m being selfish. I’ll keep you posted. I’m interested in hearing about your self care routine if you have one. Let me know!

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