Everywhere you look nowadays self-care and healthy living seem to be on the agenda. The idea of taking time to eat good food, sleep, exercise and nurture our passions, talents and dreams regularly, frequents our to do lists, goals or resolutions. The intention is certainly there, but how many of us actually take the time to look after ourselves properly?
I have found that the reason a lot of our best intentions don't come to fruition is because they are fighting with the subconscious belief that by taking time out of our busy day to look after ourselves we are being selfish. It is the idea that other people should come first, and that deciding to do what we want and what is best for us, is selfish. You might be reading this and thinking, "Well yes, it is selfish. Surely that is the very definition of selfish?"
And this belief is where we fall down. We all seem to invest in this, so, even with the best of intentions, it takes a lot of hard work to get to a point where we place our self-care in its rightful place on the priority list.
So where does that leave us? Is self-care selfish? And does it matter if it is? These are not easy questions to answer and undoubtedly we all need to decide for ourselves, but after spending some time thinking on this, I have decide I believe the following:
I believe that self-care is vital. It may seem like selfishness to look after ourselves, especially if we have a family or other people relying on us, but if we don't look after ourselves, what position are we in to look after other people? We can only give what we have. You can only help people to the capacity of energy, health, vitality, abundance, joy, and love that you have. So if you don't take the time to cultivate these things and to really look after yourself, you aren't able to bring your best to others. And maybe, not bringing your best is the selfish thing? So yes, I believe that looking after yourself allows you to be the best friend, partner, child, parent, business partner... whatever you are to the people around you. When you are healthy and happy, you have so much more to give and offer. So don't short-change the world or the people you love the most, by giving them a substandard version of you.
In fact unintentional selfishness, more often that not, masquerades as selflessness.
Most of the time it is important to prioritize our own needs for the cause of self-care -- this is not selfish (as discussed above). Selfishness kicks in when we stubbornly ignore what is best for ourselves, or others; it is wallowing in the unhealthy and unnecessary victim role. We can all be guilty of this, but the problem lies when we confuse this for selflessness. Selflessness is not always letting others go first. Breaking out of these perceptions isn't easy, they are dogmatically repeated as 'common wisdom' but are they really true?
It is true that selfishness is never thinking of others, which is why people view self-care as selfish? With self-care you have to put yourself in pole position. So how do we have self-care without selfishness? How do we change the perception of looking after oneself as being selfish? To me the answer seems very simple -- prioritize you and then prioritize service. If you can look after your needs first, get healthy, happy, successful and full of energy and then ask yourself, 'How can I serve?' you have a much better chance of serving the world, making positive change for others and looking after your loved ones. So if you can do these two things the self-care versus selfish debate can truly be put to bed.
So why not get started now?
Take some time in the next week and explore what makes you feel good. Ask yourself what habits and behaviors you do, or want to do, that will make you feel healthy, give you energy and really allow you to look after yourself. Work out what these fundamentals are and plan how you can fit them into your life on a regular basis. I call these my daily non-negotiables. They are the few things I know that greatly enhance my life. For me these are: meditation, drinking enough water, moving my body, going out for a walk or a run everyday, spending time writing and seeing people I love. This may seem like a lot, but most of these I fit into my day in an hour or so in the morning. With a little careful planning and repetition, I have made these habits that seamlessly merge into my life. When for some reason they don't happen I notice the difference and mark it as a reminder of the importance of self-care. Non-negotiables may seem extra chores in an already busy life, but once implemented, they allow you to raise your game. Suddenly you have more energy, more focus and more purpose. You become more productive and therefore have more time for the things and people you love, and crucially more time for yourself.
So have a think about what self-care rituals you can implement into your life. Maybe it's something to do with food, maybe it's doing yoga everyday, maybe it's going out for a walk with your loved one, or maybe it is as simple as taking five minutes everyday to listen to your favorite song.
Whatever they are, try and carve out time for this self-care, and when the selfishness question rears its head, gently remind it you are looking after number one, so you're number one at looking after the world.
Read more from Lucie Lincoln at www.lucielincoln.com
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