I was on retreat with a client recently and one of the conversations we had was about the common belief that many hold – that we must not put ourselves first.
I can remember being told this as a child – it is selfish if you put yourself first, think of others before yourself and various versions of this. Being selfish has become a ‘very bad thing’. I can understand why this is taught to children when they are small – it is about helping them socialise as it is our human nature, our survival instinct, to put ourselves first. Problem is that this means that the pendulum swings far too far to one side and then we lose sight of ourselves altogether.
We also often believe that we have to put ourselves last because we want to help others. Others come first and it is selfish to not help others before ourselves.
I like to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction – particularly when the person I am working with has lived their life only putting others first. And that putting others first can look like not listening to what their heart wants as well as doing what others want to please them. Pleasing others before themselves.
In this situation I think we need to learn to be selfish. But this is the selfish with a capital S – so in fact it is Selfish. By that I mean we need to listen to our Self, our inner knowing, our Soul, our intuition and follow that.
Why do we need to follow our Self?
You cannot help or serve anyone until you help yourself. Until you overflow you have nothing of any real value to give and if you do try to give, you will burn yourself out.
Read this again – it is so important:
You cannot help or serve anyone until you help yourself. Until you overflow you will be limited in how much you can give and if you do try to give, you will burn yourself out.
So often we think that it is selfish to think of ourselves first but in truth we need to take care of your-Self first if you truly want to make a difference. If you truly want to serve other people, support your friends and family then you have to nourish yourself first.
To truly serve others you have to take care of your needs first.
Those needs may be physical, emotional or spiritual needs. Whatever needs they are we need to listen. Our heart will talk to us if we listen – it will show us what we need to do to overflow – for when we overflow is when we have unlimited abundance to give to others. Simply imagine yourself as a beautiful glass on top of a champagne fountain; you need to fill up from above so that you can overflow abundantly to fill all those other beautiful glasses below.
What if you feel guilty about putting yourself first?
For some the idea of putting Self first, of being selfish, brings on a guilt trip. And that is understandable if you have been told over and over again that it is bad to put yourself first. However this image of overflowing will help you whenever that guilt hits. You can know that only when you take care of you, when you overflow, can you be of any real use to others. This is when you have so much more than you’ve ever had to give before.
That Self, your Soul, your deep inner part of you needs you to take care of yourself on all levels. Both physically, emotionally and spiritually. So how can you ensure that you know what you need to do? Check in regularly. That part of you speaks to you through your feelings. Not feelings as in emotions but feelings as it the physical feedback that we can get when we listen.
So if someone is asking you to do something that really you do not want to do, something that is not taking care of you, stop and see how it feels within your body. Is it light and joyful or heavy and tiring? Taking care of your-Self will always feel good. It is the things that feel good that fill you up to overflowing..
You might be in a situation where you do need to do what is being asked but instead of just doing it stop and see if there a win/win solution. Sometimes there may be and sometimes maybe not. But if the latter do think hard whether you really want to empty yourself out. You may have to disappoint someone but in the end you will be able to do more if you ensure that you are overflowing.
Not many people are going to tell you to put your-Self first – it is something that you are going to have to decide for your-Self. However when you do you will find that not only do you feel better and you have more energy to be present in this world but you can actually do all the things you want to do for others but with a light joyful energetic feeling – and that’s so much more fun!
P.S. We have some amazing, fun, profound conversations on retreat. Two days to totally focus on you; a great way to begin to learn to be Self-ish. If something inside of you is prompting you to come on retreat and you’d like to know more then drop me a line and we can arrange a time to have a chat.
Photo credit http://www.myfrenchlife.org
What is your life showing you right now? Maybe this story has resonated with you, or maybe you are wondering about things that are happening right now in your life. If you feel you’d like some help deciphering your life’s journey then let’s have a chat. You can email me or give me a call on +44 (0)203 239 6155