Our world has a lot of things to say about that word – selfish. That its uncaring, irresponsible and not a great way to live your life. If you’re selfish, you’re not a team player (which is frowned upon), and you don’t generally get respected for using it as a descriptor for yourself.
But there’s always two sides to a story, right? This is where I get to introduce you to one of my favourite practices – self care.
If selfish is where you do what you want and say what you want in such a way that you’re actively hurting or dismissing others, self care is its flip side – where you put the things you need to do to live, to be a pretty fricken awesome human being first, maybe at the inconvenience (but not pain) of others. In my life, this looks like taking my rest days when I have a bleed with no fear or shame (and in fact lots of love for doing exactly what my body needs!), doing a barre or yoga class outside the house a couple of times a week which cuts into home time with R (but not every day, twice a day), and it absolutely includes my blogging, business building and meditation practice.
Reading and indulging in a beautiful cup of tea. The perfect selfish self care for me
Us humans, we’re really good at coming up with excuses to not do something. I bet by now some of you have even thought things like “yeah, but she doesn’t have my commitments” or “my family can’t afford me to not be this engaged with them” or maybe even “my partner/children need me to be with them (I woulda been right there with you not so long ago!).
So why is it really ok, brilliant even, for you to take that ‘selfish’ self care time? Because a massage makes you more relaxed and better at coping with that idiot who cut you off changing lanes. Because your yoga class or weights session gets you connected with your body in more ways than one (hello, relationship goodness!). Meditation gives you the mental and emotional space to better solve the challenges you encounter on a daily basis, and that bunch of flowers you treated yourself to makes you smile every time you pass them in your house, making you love your home more. Doesn’t all of that sound pretty awesome?!
Taking ‘selfish’ self care time is not just important, but essential to being the best kind of you – your funniest, smartest, most beautiful you.
How did I get to a point where I no longer felt insanely guilty for needing to rest and recover from a bleed, or do my own thing when there was the option of spending time being with and caring for someone else? I got to a crunch point in a significant situation last year where my needs weren’t being met, and it finally, deeply dawned on me –
No one else was going to take care of me for me. If I wanted my self care to “get done” I had to stop worrying about how that might look or impact the world around me and get it done myself!
My bleeding disorder, as always, was my greatest teacher. While I was going through my health crisis last year where I wasn’t responding to my medication and was having unsolicited, untreated bleeds, it was incredibly important for my body that it was taken care of. The more I try and ignore or push through a bleed, the harder it gets to deal with, and that was even more obvious when I wasn’t responding to treatment. However, it wasn’t until that point I just mentioned that I finally got it. Self care is my responsibility, and more than that, its not up to anyone else as to how it looks. If for someone else, how I eat, where I exercise or my meditation style seems wrong, that isn’t my concern. My driving question is always “how is this helping to take care of me today?” (and this is a pretty good starting point for you, too!).
Being selfish has enabled me to care for myself in the way it needs to be done. Then, when I do have time with R, hang out with my friends, or speak at a conference, I’m the best, most grounded and focused version of myself, which is exactly what the people around us need.