My number one trigger from childhood was being called selfish by my father. It wasn’t just one specific event; it was the starring comment given on an infinite loop. I felt as though I could never do enough to please him or be good enough, let alone do anything that would result in praise. I remember going above and beyond to prove to myself and others that I WAS NOT SELFISH!
I think most of us grew up with parents and society telling us to give to others and take care of their needs. We were taught to help out and be good. Good sons and daughters. Good sisters and brothers. Good servants and helpmates. Good, good, GOOD! Never on that list were we told to give to ourselves or to take care of ourselves, because if we did then we were deemed selfish.
Thankfully, along the way I’ve learned there is a big difference between being selfish and having a healthy self interest. Being selfish is an excessive and exclusive interest in one’s own welfare to the detriment of others. A healthy self interest is where you take care of yourself to optimize your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states. These are acts of self love which results in you being more joyful and present in all facets of life.
Think about all of the times you’ve felt completely empty after you’ve given and given and given. You’ve given to your family. You’ve given to your friends. You’ve given to work, and your kids’ schools, and the PTA, and the church. You’ve put on the smiles, stuffed the envelopes, donated the money, and headed up the events. You’ve given so much that you’re exhausted. And maybe a little bitter. Maybe a lot. And when your body is worn out and aching, you think about saying “no” to the next wave of giving and a little voice pops into your head and calls you selfish. How dare you think about skipping out on the next round! Everyone’s counting on you!
Choosing to say “no” is healthy! It allows others to step up and help out. It allows you to refresh your batteries so you can give with a loving attitude instead of out of stressed obligation. It gives your friends and family a more relaxed and engaged YOU! Isn’t that the best gift ever? What can you do to give back to yourself? Take a class or maybe a nap? Get a massage or go to the gym? Whatever you choose to do, just CHOOSE YOU!