Are you comfortable enough to say ‘I am selfish’? Or ‘I need to be more selfish in my life’?
As a result of writing The Guidebook to Authentic Success, and a couple of pretty painful life experiences over the last few weeks, I needed to revisit my relationship with the ‘selfish’ word and I thought I would share with you what came up.
So let’s get this selfish party started.
This language thing
It is amazing the impact our words and language have on us. Especially those of us that are native English speakers. I know I was taught growing up not to be selfish. So I sort of bought into that concept, and it wasn’t until I was 17 and on my first plane ride ever (on my way to join the Army), that I was introduced to another concept.
On this plane ride back in 1987, the air hostess (as they were called back then) told us that if there was an emergency and we needed oxygen; masks would drop down. And we had to make sure that we put our mask on ourselves before we helped anyone else. We had to take care of our self first, and only then did we help others.
Now fast-forward to 2015 and I have been on 100’s of flights. And in those 28 years, with the best strategic minds on the planet reviewing and revising the aircraft safety procedures, the same rule applies.
Tip: Take care of yourself first, then you will be in a much better position to best serve others.
Too often we forget this. We cannot help others fully if we are frazzled, stressed, tired, worn out, hungry, dehydrated, in pain, etc. When we are at out best, we do our best work for others.
The language thing Part 2
I was talking with a colleague this morning who is a therapist and she said for a long time she had an issue with the selfish word. So she decided to look up the root meaning of the word. One thing she stumbled upon was that the root word for ‘ish’ in the Hebrew language, means ‘to strengthen’. So selfish could actually mean to strengthen self.
I like that.
I have also found for some people they are much more comfortable with the word SELF-CARE, which is what being selfish is all about. So if that sits better with you, let’s use it as a substitute.
Great concept, but what is the practical application?
Let me share 5 Self-Care Strategies I use and teach to enable us to be the best we can be and therefore the most able to fully help and serve others.
1. We all need help sometimes
I spend a lot of time helping others. It is my job. My life’s work is to help people remove or reduce pain and increase the amount of pleasure they experience in life. But if I don’t get help when I need it, before I red-line, I am good for no-one. So regardless of how competent or capable I believe I am at managing my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual states, there are times when I definitely need help. So make sure you have a support network of people (with the appropriate skills) to help when you need it. And then use them. There is no embarrassment in saying, ‘I need help’. It is actually a sign of intelligence and courage.
2. Don’t leave it until you crumble
Going on from the last point about red-lining. Don’t let yourself deteriorate to such a stage that you are likely to just fall over on the spot. Keep some attention inwards. Notice how you are doing. And when you get to a 8/10 on the overwhelm or stressed scale then it is time to step back and call in the cavalry (or that great therapist that you have on speed-dial). I was probably at a 9.5/10 the other week before I reached out for help from a great therapist I use. Not what I recommend at all. At an 8/10 you need to start taking proactive measures.
3. Take time out for yourself
We all need some alone time. Even the most hard-core extroverts. Don’t wait for the time to become available. Carve it out on your weekly schedule with a jack-hammer. Be ruthless. Set that 30 mins or hour or half a day aside to recharge the batteries. If that is meditating, walking in nature, doing the gardening, sitting in a hummock under a coconut tree; make it happen. Don’t wait for it. Make it happen.
4. Say ‘no’
I have talked and written about this before. Here is a two letter word that is SO life-changingly powerful. Especially when it comes to self-care. When you say ‘no’ a few more times you open the way for bigger and more meaningful ‘yeses’. The skill of saying ‘no’ is essential to self-care and also success in your life.
5. Don’t be one dimensional
A lot of people think first and foremost about taking care of their bodies. But it is just one piece. You also need to take care of your mental, emotional and spiritual parts of yourself. My biggest challenge recently came as a result of feeling spiritually disconnected. I almost felt out of body. Now we all have different ways of doing the spiritual thing – whether it is religious or connecting with mother nature – but we do need to do it to feel centred, grounded and powerful. So work on more than just your physical well-being.
My Final Words
I am HUGE on a morning ritual of self care which includes meditation, movement, gratitude, green drinks and a few more special pieces. I wake up early to make it happen and I know I cannot serve my clients if I don’t take care of myself.
So know for you to be your best and serve in the greatest way possible, you need to be selfish. You need to strengthen your self.
What do you need to add to your morning routine?
What do you need to add to your week to rejuvenate and revitalise?
What do you need to say no to?
Do you need to work more on your physical, mental, emotional or spiritual practices to bring greater harmony into your life?