Is it selfish to put yourself first? The question many women are asking.
Am I being selfish taking what I need?
I get asked this question from women often. It comes in many forms and I’m guessing we all recognise at least some of them.
If I put myself first is that selfish?
If I get what I want - does that mean my family have to sacrifice something?
Why do I feel guilty when I spend time/money/energy just on me?
I know he/they have said yes, but I’m not sure they really mean for me to do this for myself…
Won’t I be judged if I ask for what I need?
I can answer all of this with one simple analogy. I’m travelling this week and the in-flight safety demo features this life lesson,
To help others you must first put on your own oxygen mask
If you can’t breathe, can’t survive, how will you be able to help the people who rely on you?
Self-care, ‘me time’, self-love, finding space, whatever you call it is all part of being able to survive in a state where we can help those around us. Not staying well, not allowing your self to have fun, relax, not investing in your own wellness, now to me THAT is selfish.
Imagine (metaphorically speaking) turning to the people you love most and saying ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you because I didn’t take the time to look after myself’. Think for a moment how you might feel if you let yourself get into this position.
Now contrast that with a balanced level of self-care, ‘Yes I can help because I feel well/healthy/strong/happy/motivated’.
Investing in you is important to be there for others
When I went on my first retreat I wasn’t sure how my husband would take it. I wondered if he would think it was frivolous, a trendy thing to do, or maybe even something that would be anti-male. In fact, he was 100% supportive.
“I would rather you take the time you need to come back and feel secure and happy. Having you like that makes the whole family feel better and improves all our lives”
Investing might mean different things for each of you. It could be simple things like creating a wonderful morning routine, or spending longer in that blissful bath, to bigger things like working with a life coach, or going on retreat. The fact is that when something is important to us we invest in it but women aren’t so good at recognising that we ourselves important.
Women often put themselves bottom of the list after their partner, kids, family, friends, and usually do so willingly. This is a loving and caring trait but we need to recognise when over-giving starts to become a problem.
Over-giving & sacrifices
We all do it. It comes from a place of love. Be careful though, over-giving can be a trap we fall into - maybe a little of the martyr there? Maybe a little scared to change things up?
Sacrifice is something we all have to become resolved to. There are only so many hours in the day or pennies in the bank. Something usually gives for something else to happen. So I would ask you this, what is going to give now in order for you to be the best version of you in the future? How can you reconcile yourself and others to that sacrifice?
Here’s my five top tips on how to move out of over-giving into creating what you need:
Recognise what it is you truly need. Maybe it isn’t that big glass of Pinot, maybe its a 10 minute meditation every day?
Ask others for what you need. Make it clear, come from a loving place and give them the benefits to them (selfish maybe, but hey, most of us are driven by our own needs right?)
Strive for balance, as in all things keep a healthy balance between being No 1 and at the bottom of the pile. This isn’t about being spolit or needy this is about being strong and happy.
Take action. You will have to make this happen, you and only you. I know you will have the support of others but you are in the driving seat! Make a start, take a step change something small and get going!
Enjoy it. Do not accept the guilt that you will try and give yourself. Do not let the hard work of moving from over-giving into self-love shower you with negativity. Know that you are worthy, know that you deserve this and take pleasure in it.
I’m so glad you are reading this blog because it shows that you are taking time for yourself, that you know you need more and deserve more. I love that you are taking even these few minutes to think about yourself. Now - what might happen if you took that a step further?
Kelly Herrick is a coach & collaborator who helps people access more freedom & joy. She is also the strategic lead in an international design agency, a painter and mum of two boys.