Why it’s not selfish to be selfish (sometimes)
We have all heard the phrase ‘love thy neighbour as yourself’ but we often forget the second part of this statement. Most people are willing to help friends and families, even perfect strangers if they ask nicely. But sometimes it’s good to think about whether you can give.
Imagine a bottle of water you take out with you one day. You can only drink from this bottle. You know it’ll be hot and so you make sure you take it especially. As you’re leaving your house your sibling asks for some water. Naturally, you give it to them for a sip and continue your day. You walk along to work and when you get there no one has brought a bottle of water on this especially hot day. Knowing that people are in need you offer your water to them. When you get back home, you are thirsty, so you reach for your bottle only to realise there is nothing left. You are dehydrated and there is no water but one of your parents asks for the empty bottle, so they can fill it up to drink. You give it to them. This sounds crazy, right? Would why would you give the only bottle you can drink from away. You need the water, it’s yours.
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. You do that every day. With your time, energy and love.
We’re all filled with love and compassion. We give it away day after day, week after week without a thought to ourselves. We put others’ needs before our own because we care. We know we’re becoming drained as we begin to be short tempered, less optimistic about life and lose our motivation. However, we continue telling ourselves one day we will have time to get back to that hobby we love or watch that movie, or have that extra time in bed. But that day never comes as we run this ridiculous Marathon.
Until one day, you’re burnt-out and at rock bottom. This is when repairing yourself becomes a much harder (but not impossible) task to accomplish.
So, what should you do? There are only so many hours in the day and you would probably rather spend time worrying about family, relationships and your job. Here are some ways to practise self-love:
Exercise mindfulness. You may have heard this before and believe it means one thing or another, but mindfulness is different for everyone. It can be an hour-long yoga session, 10 minutes sitting in peace, in silence meditating, listening to a podcast, or doing breathing exercises. No matter how busy you are, you can always find 10-minutes for your wellbeing.
Make time for yourself! If you’re a planner like me, and you’re organising your week or day ahead, schedule time for yourself to do something you enjoy. You will feel a lot better about it and realise that your interests and hobbies can fit into your busy schedule if you let them.
Let people know how you’re feeling. Humans aren't mind-readers. If you tell your loved ones that you are feeling overwhelmed or have a lot going on, even if you don’t go into detail they will understand because they would have been through it too. You are not alone, and friends and families can become a support network whilst you work on loving yourself.
Practise makes perfect. Its not easy to say no to a loved one, or spend time doing something that is only for you. You might feel selfish and that you should be giving back or helping someone. But keep at it, you will see that practising self-love and selfishness with your time and energy (which are both very precious) will have amazing long-term effects.
Making time to get to know yourself isn’t selfish and shouldn’t be seen that way. It’s a journey and there will be challenges, but it’s a journey worth taking.