Learning to be selfish might sound like it’s going against all the instincts that make up a good person. But instead of avoiding self-love for fear of forgetting the needs of others, maybe this self-love could be sending some on for everyone else.
The fact is, the struggles we encounter with mental health often includes our self-esteem. The big hint is right there, in the name. And the World Health Organisation agrees. They forward a definition of self-care as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, and maintain health and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider.”.
Sure, this global organisation might not be handing out yoga mats instead than food aid, but WHO makes an important point: basic survival is based on looking out for ourselves, so why aren’t we seeing our mental health as a priority? Part of staying healthy is learning to de-stress, so why are we still neglecting our mental and physical health?
If you’re looking for excuses, look no further than this blogpost.
You won’t be doing just something for yourself; you’ll be doing a service to the world around you.
You can make the right choices for you
When we book that first painting lesson, or download that meditation app, we make a slight alteration to our pysche; we learn how to focus on ourselves.
We all know what we want, what we need, and what we would much rather not be doing. Actively following these selfish intentions can help us assess the choices we confront, and – to sound cheesy – truly let us follow our heart. And when we follow our heart, the decisions we make lead to a life we would want to be living.
Just do the maths: a happier life means a happier you.
And when you are showing yourself a bit of self-love, you’ll be taking in the world around you. Bloggers herald the fear of living on ‘autopilot’, of going through the motions. When we go through the motions, we end up feeling unsatisfied, or as if our lives have gone unutilised. Enter the red Ferrari, and the other mascots of the mid-life crisis.
Take some time for yourself, and become mindful to avoid the various crises that come with life.
Sharing out some of that self-love
The word ‘selfish’ has got a pretty bad reputation. Although it suggests a self-centred focus, it may not be when in practice. So many of us – particularly women – support others, often putting their needs before our own. But when we do take some time for ourselves, we can give better quality time for others.
The happier and healthier we are (the key benefits of experiencing some self-love), the more likely we are to be generous towards the world around us.
So don’t let it seem like you are keeping your love all to yourself. In actual fact, you are just keeping it flowing.
You can avoid resentment towards others
On that note, when we become overwhelmed by the needs of others and ignore those of our own, we are prone to resenting those that sap our energy.
And this is supported by the leading pyschologists on self-care, including Dr. Margaret Rutherford: “Sacrificing for others can build trust and a realization of the joy in seeing others’ needs or wants met, [but] carried too far, self-sacrifice can morph into martyrdom”. Plus, as an expert on hidden depression, Rutherford knows the importance of looking after yourself.
But substituting your needs for others doesn’t quite stop there, unfortunately.
When we give love and support to those that need it, and don’t feel any reciprocation, it’s no surprise that don’t feel as great as we should. Cue feelings of resentment, and these won’t do you any good for your self-esteem.
The thing is, people do tend to disappoint us. So, rather than waiting ever so patiently for the love you need, give yourself a nifty head start. You deserve it.
You can become a role model
Even though self-love seems a rather individual act – as it should be – it can go much further than a spa weekend. Whenever we take time for ourselves, we can influence others, and spread on the wisdom of self-care.
Being selfish is all about understanding you. Your needs, and your desires.
Instead of playing the martyr – as discussed above – you can show the importance of valuing yourself, and sharing love right across the board.
This will go much further than applying for a painting class, or having a quick jog. We all know that mental health matters, whether its being enforced at work, or taught in schools. Instead of worrying that self-love makes you a bad person, consider that you might rather be ignoring someone that matters. And that’s you.
Selfish might go a short way, but the love you will pass on from being a better you will go all the way.