I don’t think this will come as a shock to anyone, but: Relationships are hard. All of them. And the word selfish isn’t usually on the side of desirable traits when in a relationship. But today I’m going to to explain why being selfish isn’t always a bad thing for your relationships.
Selfishness gets a bad rap. And rightfully so. Most of the actions that stem from one’s selfish behaviors are less than attractive. But we are all pre-disposed with a certain amount of selfishness because it keeps us alive. Back when we were rocking loincloths it allowed us to seek out food, water and shelter for ourselves before caring for anyone else. And we still do that just now all those are a little less life or death. That’s the kind of selfishness I’m talking about.
Taking care of yourself.
“Before you can take care of anyone else, you must be willing and able to take care of yourself. Respect yourself and those around you enough to do so and everything will become easier.” – Me
I’ve always considered myself a pretty selfless person. Going out of my way to do things for others and making sure the important people in my life were taken care of. It has always been easy for me to forget about my personal needs while trying desperately to fulfill the needs of others and making sure I was aways there to help, fix or support. While this all sounds lovely, it’s tragically not. Because in the process of all this I stopping loving and caring about myself. Whoops.
You know the safety instructions every time you hop on a plane? “Properly secure your safety mask before assisting others“. We can apply that to our everyday lives as well. If you don’t take care of yourself first, your dead. (Obviously we’re talking in extremes here, but I’m trying to make a point) If the plane is about to crash, make sure your mask is secure and the oxygen is flowing before trying to help anyone else. The point is you can’t help anyone else if you’re dead. So put your damn mask on first people! Be a little selfish, but how? Here’s a few things I’m working on doing to better all my relationships with both myself and the people around me.
Schedule Time For YOU: Respect your mind, body and soul enough to put time into improving it. Take the time to go for a workout, take a bath or get lost in your favorite hobby for an hour everyday. If you don’t set aside a little ‘you time’ each day. A day turns into a week, a year and pretty soon. A please don’t use the excuse ‘I don’t have time’. You DO have time, you simply have to make YOU a priority and not a back-burner issue. Get your shit straight.
Acceptance: Learn to accept the things you cannot change either about yourself or in your life. Most external circumstances are fixable. Don’t like where you’re living? Move. Don’t like your hair color? Dye it. Don’t want to eat bananas everyday? Start buying apples. But if you were wishing you were 5 inches taller or desperately wishing you could change something fundamental about yourself: Stop it! Because unless you want to shell out some serious dough and prayers for some plastic surgery. Start accepting what is and move on to more important things. (I won’t lie, I’m even still working on this.)
Learning To Say No: Agh. This one is so hard. Breaking the cycle of being a ‘Yes Person’ is not easy. But I can say it IS do-able because I have begun saying No much more frequently and it’s been a lifesaver. I would say yes to every request, project, favor etc. and the stress was unbearable. How is that fair or kind to me? It wasn’t. Start saying No. Although it can be hard to believe, you are NOT responsible for everyone in your life all the time. And they will survive without your constant help.
Set Some Guidelines and Rules: Feeling trapped by your relationship or significant other? If they’re open to talking about it, begin setting some relationship guidelines to help keep expectations in check and both of you happy. We all need our own things, but can often be misconstrued as selfishness when not expressed properly. Need something desperately from your significant other that they’re not giving you? Find a calm, neutral place to bring it up and say it in a way that doesn’t sound nagging.
Instead of, “I need X and you never give it to me.” Say, “I really need X. I’d love if you could be the one to give it to me. Is there anything you need from me too?”. Don’t force they’re hand or put the pressure on them. Let it be their choice. Now they know what you need, if they choose to give it to you that’s up to you. If it’s a healthy, strong relationship they should start, if they don’t you might need to reconsider things.
Let Them Come To You: Quit always offering yourself up. You are not a sacrificial lamb. Sure, on occasion it is nice to offer up your time or services, but if you’re doing it on the daily, it’s probably negatively impacting your life. If they need help they will come to you and if they don’t it will be clear they didn’t want/need your help in the first place. And remember, you are always welcome to say NO. (respectfully though, I’m not telling you to become an asshole)
Take What Is Rightfully Yours: Have you ever worked your ass off for something only to have it taken away by someone? Did you fight for it or did you just shrug your shoulders and say ‘next time’ I’ll get it. Do you think those cavemen spent hours built fires only to let other cavemen come and steal their hard earned heat? Hell no! Take pride in your work, possessions and don’t be afraid to stake your claim.
Stop Feeling Guilty: That moment when you stop feeling guilty is the moment everything changes. Let it go homie. If you’ve made a mistake that’s hurt someone else: Apologize and give them time to forgive. Then apologize to yourself and move on. Rid yourself of the guilt. In the long run it’s actually more selfish and harmful to hold on to the pain and stress of guilt. And that’s lame.
Always love me some Ms.Sweet Brown and her 15 seconds of fame whenever I start thinking negatively or feel my anxiety starting to creep in. I love how fellow blogger, Amy Davis puts it in her blog post: ‘selfish’ is not a dirty word. Everything she talks about is what I’m talking about above so give it a read too. Relationships are so dependent on mutual happiness, respect and level of caring for others. I’m still figuring it all out I won’t lie. But the most important thing I’ve learned so far is that a little bit of healthy selfishness goes along way to keep everyone happy.