“Selfishness” Isn’t Always “Bad”

woman holding hands across her collar bone

Sometimes, I think that “taking care of yourself” can be seen as “selfishness.” That, alone, is a shame. What’s interesting, though, is that I believe there are times when actually being “selfish” is necessary. For example, I came across a saying once that read, “I will not set fire to myself to keep you warm.” Meaning, I can’t help you if I don’t help me. Helping others is one of the most important things you can do in this life, but if you’re not feeling whole, restored, and intact, you’ve got nothing to give.

Being Selfless Doesn’t Mean Losing Yourself

In terms of well being–physically, mentally, and emotionally–selfishness is not a “bad behavior.” We can be both selfless and “selfish.” It’s necessary (and priceless) for us to make time to allow ourselves to think, especially in the tech-driven world we live in. Notifications alerting us left and right, calendars reminding us of meetings, unexpected phone calls; it all interrupts our sleep, concentration, and zen moments (if we manage to have any). Even our cars are enabled to receive and make phone calls while we’re on the go.

As someone with a Buddhist mind and Christian heart, I think about the Sabbath and how relevant and needed it is in today’s world. Having one day per week that is reserved for reflection and contemplation is almost unheard of in the hustle and bustle of what is now 2018. For me, meditation and/or prayer is that perfect moment of reflection and escape from our smothering tech-infused society. Really, it’s unplugging in the most divine sense.

Meditation: 15 Minutes of Freedom

Not everyone can take a full day of rest right off the bat. But, if you can manage at least 15 minutes to take your mind in a different direction and away from the constant stimulation, you’ll feel liberated. This is invaluable replenishment. It’s not easy, though. It takes time and patience to learn how to just sit and be still, how to quiet the mind. In the end, you’ll find that doing something so still and calming can actually produce energy you didn’t have before.

If adopting meditation or daily prayer isn’t in the cards for you, go the old-fashioned way to clear your mind: sleep. Even a 20-minute nap can do wonders in how the rest of your day unfolds.

Taking Too Many for the Team

Our desires and fears drive our insecurities, and sometimes, these insecurities can either drive us to want to fix someone else’s problems or stress out about our own. It’s important that we don’t allow ourselves to over-function for small things or for others in a way that leads us to anxiety or emotional turmoil. It’s of incredible value that we step away from others at times, especially when it gets to be too much. If you take too many for the team, you’ll be overloaded with double the negativity and the pain. Meanwhile, you’re giving away all your positivity to the world. What’s left for you? At some point, you run out, and even you can’t help them–nor yourself.

So, help others by helping yourself first. If they think it’s selfish of you to step back, they are relying too much on the health of someone else to sustain their own.

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