Being selfish sometimes means taking care of the Self, and that’s crucial. So how do we go “against the tide”? Against the strong socialization to do for others first and foremost? It will be a challenge, but a rewarding one once you have stepped into the path of focusing on you. Here are some suggestions to redirect your focus and energy back to you...
"YOU ALONE ARE ENOUGH. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO PROVE TO ANYONE." Maya Angelou
This quote resonates for me because we, as women, are often socialized to BE and DO for others. It is an early lesson. Focusing on you means you are “selfish” and that equates with bad. It is a lesson that is taught both with and without words. By example, by facial gestures of disapproval and by outright statements. In most cultures, women are the primary caretakers for both the family and the children. In Spanish, we even have a saying: “más madre que mujer” emphasizing the focus “should be” on nurturing others. This can leave us with feelings of self-doubt, hopelessness and emotional exhaustion.
Being selfish sometimes means taking care of the Self, and that’s crucial. So how do we go “against the tide”? Against the strong socialization to do for others first and foremost? It will be a challenge, but a rewarding one once you have stepped into the path of focusing on you.
The ability to care and love others starts with you. With loving and accepting yourself. Prioritizing your ideas, feelings, plans and direction. This is not to suggest that you become arrogant or closed to others. It means to understand that only you can create happiness for You. Once we embrace that idea, it is easier to engage in relationships with others because our expectations are more realistic and flexible.
Values define us as human beings. They say what is important to us. Knowing what your negotiables AND your non-negotiables are helps with the boundaries necessary for the Self to grow. We all need to negotiate some things as part of being in relationships with others, however if you are struggling with saying no or find yourself giving in often, it creates wear and tear eventually.
There is a big difference between being alone and lonely. Solitude allows for our minds to wander freely and without judgement. It can allow you to explore your passions without interruptions. And pursue them with purpose. If you have a strong internal critic, that voice in your head that tells you how awful you are, and tells you often, you may want to combine your solo time with some breathwork and meditation.
We are often our own worst enemies as we take new paths. We criticize and belittle and discourage ourselves. Try the Yin/Yang approach: for every 1 negative thought, STOP (I use a loud clapping of my hands) and imagine 2 positive thoughts. This takes practice as we easily attune to the negative. Stretch yourself and your imagination and create at least 2. Gratitude journaling may help start this off!
Analyze the people and situations that drain your energy…that leave you feeling small or doubtful. Then think about the people that energize you! What do they bring? How do they bring it? The people pleasing part of you costs you. Learning to let go of negativity and to say no are some of the ways to practice putting yourself first.
No matter how lost you feel, you can initiate change. Start small and simple. Try a new hobby, hairstyle, or route to work/home. Expand gradually. Learn a little something about yourself each day. It takes courage to know that you may want or need some help initiating! Ask!
One of the toughest life lessons for many of us. To be as loving and kind and compassionate to ourselves as we can/are with others. Forgive yourself for the various detours and lost moments you will have on this journey. Gently redirect yourself back to 1 small change every day!