Think it's selfish, think again.
I find a lot of people coming to counselling for the first time feel uncomfortable when asked to think about their needs, and for many, it may be the first time that they have been asked to think about what is emotionally important to them.
This isn't surprising when we grow up believing that its wrong to be selfish, and yet is the alternative to be constantly selfless?
For many people this is a tricky area to navigate as our beliefs are ingrained at an early age, and don't prepare us well for adult life. The lack of trust in what's important can make it difficult to navigate relationships, where we are up against someone else's needs.
My approach to this problem is to help my clients develop trust in what matters to them. People often get locked in to the rights and wrongs of a situation, when often there aren't any, there are just different points of views. Like holding the belief that we can only be selfish or selfless, the belief that there is always right and wrong gets in the way of thinking in a more nuanced way.
When creating your "mental list" of your top priorities and duties to care for others make sure you include yourself at the top of that list. Remind yourself that you are important, and that you deserve to be taken care of, too. If you spend all of your time helping others and forgetting about yourself, you will eventually end up depressed, resentful, and burned out.
Schedule Time For Self-care
In order to make yourself a priority, you have to intentionally set aside time in your schedule to take care of your own needs. Spend this time relaxing and doing something that you enjoy and that nurtures your body, mind, and soul. You can even set aside an entire day if you'd like! The point is, you have to find the balance that works for you and keeps your batteries charged if you want to have anything left for anyone else.
Relationships and all the action that goes along with them are time and energy consuming. Other things we engage in, like friends and hobbies that require constant upkeep, are often the first to be put aside to make room for our new passion.
The negative effects of neglecting friends and hobbies creep up on us slowly, over time, so unless we are paying particular attention it’s easy to let the damage grow until it’s near too late. Yet friends and hobbies are a huge part of who we are, individually. If we take these out of our life, what remains of us?
A relationship requires two people to function. Getting consumed in your relationship by focusing on pleasing your partner and neglecting yourself means that two people are working on sustaining only one. The second person, you, becomes lost. Suddenly, the relationship no longer works because you’ve lost one part of the whole.
Put yourself first by knowing and nurturing who you are beyond your relationship. Use some of that love-drive to please yourself, just yourself, without your partner. Have a night out with your friends. Go to that latin dance convention. Never miss your once-a-week French class.
It can be the difference that keeps your individuality satisfied