Why looking after your ‘self’ is not a self-absorbed or egoistic act.
Have you grown up with a feeling of guilt whenever you put yourself first? Do you believe that caring about your needs before those of others is being selfish?
Or have you been taught that caring about yourself is an essential part of feeling happy?
We often confuse the essence of being ‘self-ish’ and being self-centred, or egoistic.
As so many children, I was told that ‘selfish’ was a negative act, the opposite of altruism. I was taught that being selfish was a bad personality trait, one which no one should admit having. I grew up believing that others’ needs were always more important than mine. I grew up believing that if I wanted to be loved and accepted, I had to please others or suffer the indictment of being called selfish.
People who are egoistic, who are self-serving, are often those who accuse the rest of being selfish.
Along the years, I have learnt that being ‘self-ish’ and ‘self-centred’ are two different notions.
Being ‘self-ish’ is actually caring about the ‘self’, caring about you, your well-being, your emotional and physical state. Being ‘self-ish’ is treating your ‘self’ kindly, with love, ensuring that you can function properly. It is nurturing your ‘self’.
The opposed idea is in fact, being egoistic, which is an act of putting yourself first, no matter what. It is being excessively absorbed in oneself, often having very little regard for others’ needs or emotional state. People who are egoistic, who are self-serving, are often those who accuse the rest of being selfish.
And so, I grew up with a sense of guilt whenever I thought about my needs, my choices, my own desires. But it also confused me considerably. Why was I regarded as selfish, when others who didn’t put ‘my’ needs first, were not accused of being selfish? Was this one rule for one and another for the likes of me?
You do not have to sacrifice yourself completely to be a good parent.
When I became a mother, my love for my children was unconditional. It didn’t matter what they did, I always loved them. Not only I loved them, but I did anything for them. To a certain extent, I still do, and I always will. I believe that as a mother I need to protect them, care for them, show them, guide them, teach them, encourage them, support them, accept them for who and what they are, and always love them even when I dislike what they do.
I learnt, however, that giving up all that I am for them might seemed the essence of a good mother, but that was not serving them properly. Why? Because I would have relayed the message that I wasn’t important enough, and that parents have to sacrifice themselves completely to be good parents.
As a parent you need to teach your children about self-respect, self-love, self-acceptance, self-esteem. After all, don’t we want our children to become confident adults who value themselves, respecting others and showing compassion? But how are we teaching them to be all this?
When you de-value yourself as a parent, rarely take a break, rarely treat yourself, continually giving and never taking, you are expressing the message that children are always more important than parents.
You were born a deserving being, and you deserve to nurture the child within You, too.
But you are a child too, deep down in your being, you are the whole of you. The essence of you is everything from the time you were born until now. And you matter, too. And you need to nurture your ‘self’, too.
When you do not treat yourself properly, you are also neglecting a very important child, that is the child within You…!
Show your children that becoming an adult is not a transition between being special and no longer being special. Teach them to value their needs, regardless of age.
The chances are that if you are giving it all to your children, you are probably behaving in the same way with others around you, friends, family, colleagues. You do not have to justify anyone’s love or acceptance. Do not fall into an emotional blackmail with others.
Give yourself permission to nurture yourself. Give yourself permission to be pampered, to be loved for who and what you are, to feel good about yourself.
You cannot be more deserving. You were born a deserving being. It is totally acceptable and commendable to care for others and want the best for them, but it is necessary for you to look after your own well-being so you can serve others effectively.
How could you give to others, assist others, advise others if you are not replenished and demonstrating that which you are trying to give out?
You need to learn to say ‘yes’ to yourself more often, to tend to your own needs so you can be of benefit and support to others.
Do not neglect your own needs so you please others because you believe it makes you a better person. Do not neglect your inner ‘self’ to serve others because you believe that they will no longer love you. To show others love, you need to show your own ‘self’ love, compassion and kindness. Today, whatever you do, take note of how you are nurturing your ‘self’, too.