Let’s talk about taking time for yourself; about being selfish. Because being nice to yourself is the best way to be nice to others.
To be honest, I earnestly believe in the above statement, but I’m still working on applying it to my own life 100% of the time. It’s counterintuitive. It’s not what we’re taught. I still struggle with putting myself first — not because I’m a saint, but because most of us (I think) are hardwired into thinking that you’re rotten if you choose yourself over others. (BIG IMPORTANT NOTE: being selfish in this context does not mean cutting down others, inflating your own ego, or disregarding the feelings and well-being of those around you. Being selfish for all intents and purposes of this post means allowing yourself to take the time to do you — examples below).
It’s taken a while (and I’ll repeat over and over on this blog that I’m a late bloomer), but I’ve realized that we are much better at serving others when we’ve served ourselves.
Yesterday, I waltzed into a 1hr aerial yoga class with Kate at 10am. We got out of class at… 2:30pm. We were enjoying our time stretching, meditating, building strength, and dancing so much that we just stuck around. And by the end of it, I could feel a huge difference in my demeanor. I called Peter and thanked him for being chill about my 4.5hr long yoga session. I offered to grab him lunch on the way home. I wouldn’t say it was out of character for me, but I can honestly say that I really wanted to offer to do something nice. I was elated. Happy. I didn’t want anything back in return. I felt completely and utterly fulfilled by having the opportunity to take time to myself and wanted to fill the rest of my day with joy and positive vibes.
Rewind to a decade ago. My boyfriend at the time, Phil (not his real name), and I had an unspoken rule that every minute of every waking hour was to be spent together. And when you’re young and still navigating what it means to be in a relationship, this sort of thinking seems …sweet. We were consumed. We were sooo in love. But then friends started to disappear from our lives. We weren’t invited out anymore. My hobbies became his hobbies and his mine. I didn’t know who I was anymore — I had lost all sense of self, all sense of independence.
I’ve had to learn it the hard way — and I’m STILL learning! There are times I’m emotionally in debt (meaning I have no more to give) because I feel like I’ve given so much that the world owes me something. And this is a dangerous destructive mindset. This is when I know to pull back, chill, and take some me-time. So, here are some of my favorite ways to be selfish and gain back that emotional wealth:
- Get enough sleep: I can’t believe that I’ve thought that going to sleep and waking up at times you’re happy with was a selfish act. You do not have to match your sleeping habits to anyone. Listen to your mind and your body. You’ll be in a better mood in the morning and everyone will thank you for it. (Note: disregard this if you’re a parent to a newborn — I’m not a mama yet, but I think you can kiss #1 goodbye for a little while — sorry!)
- Take yourself out: Whether it’s coffee, froyo, or a 3-course meal at that new ramen joint you’ve been eyeing on Yelp, allow yourself to fully enjoy your own company (and the food you’re consuming — we don’t do that enough these days, don’t you think?). Read a book. People watch. Or, I suppose, sit on your phone. Point is, find time to remind yourself that it’s okay to be alone because you are enough.
- Cut out the noise: It’s critical to take yourself out of situations and conversations that affect you negatively. And although it’s difficult to balance during this peak era of drama news, 24/7 social media, and FOMO (fear of missing out), if it’s not music to your ears then it’s just noise. Conversation is like food — avoid the Cheetos and McDonald’s; nourish yourself — you deserve better. If conversations around me aren’t engaging, I listen to a podcast.
- Speak up for yourself: Boy, this one took a long time for me to figure out — and I’m still working on it! If you don’t let people know what you want, you’re going to be stressed. And that’s going to stress out the people around you. Makes sense, right? So, communicate. Speak up. And remember that’s it’s okay to say, ‘no.’
- Get away: Go for a drive, take a mini-vacation, go on a hike, exercise, watch a movie. I personally really like taking classes (whether that’s cooking class, archery, yoga, scrapbooking, or whatever else you fancy) because it forces you to stay engaged and, most importantly, stay off your phone. These days, it’s a feat to be disconnected from your handheld connection to the world. Do it. It feels great.
I hope you take a little time to yourself today (and tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that). Let me know your thoughts! Do you have trouble with finding time for yourself? How have had any breakthrough moments? What can I do better? Let’s discuss ❤