Radical Advice: Be More Selfish

For the most part, the women I coach with are generous, conscientious and concerned about social justice. They attend to others’ needs.  They treat others with respect and kindness. They work on behalf of truth and fairness.  They have integrity.

peonyYet, they often struggle with attending to their own needs.  I often counsel with this play on a common adage:  treat YOURSELF as you would treat others.  In sessions we acknowledge the ways women are tired, depleted, drained.  And this is especially true of mothers…

See, we’re not always very good at attending to our own needs. We’re strong, capable and intelligent women. We’re experts at taking care of everyone else- work, kids, spouses, friends. We’re just not experts at taking impeccable care of ourselves.

Then one day we’re awakened to the fact that something is missing. Inner space. We have little idea what we actually want or need.  Our time is filled up, but not always with activities that rejuvenate and nurture us.

I help provide a safe space for women to admit what we really need to do:  BE MORE SELFISH.  When first contemplating this notion it might appear antithetical to all we stand for.  And it is precisely why challenging ourselves to be selfish works.  It pushes the boundary of what is acceptable and tolerable.  It’s challenging for a reason.  It’s bold, uppity, audacious of women to put ourselves at the center.

If this resonates with you at all then this challenge is for you. Commit to doing several of these exercises each week for the next month. These practices promise the gift of greater nurturing in return.

Ideas to be more selfish:

1) Buy yourself fresh flowers every week. Put them in a place you can enjoy them.

2) Move your body three times a week. Dance, Walk, Bike.  Make it a priority over any other obligation.

3) Don’t take on any new obligations. Say no. If necessary, explain that this is temporary, that you’ve made a promise to yourself.

4) Prepare a meal just for you as if you are making it for a guest. Do this often and with the love and attention you’d pay to a special visitor.

5) Buy yourself a small gift. New earrings. Lip gloss. A salt scrub. Any small token that will remind you how you need attention too.

6) Take a personal day off from work this month. Make it a mental health day.  Do whatever activities rejuvenate and replenish you (be sure to include a nap).

7) Enjoy white space. Carve out quiet time when you do nothing. Sit in silence. Turn off the phone. Shut down the computer. Do nothing, even for only 10 minutes this week.

8) Take more “me time” than you feel comfortable with. Let yourself feel a little guilty- it is normal. We find all kinds of clever ways to put others first, it makes sense that being selfish would feel awkward initially.

9) Ask yourself:  What Would ____________  Do?  Think about a woman you admire. What would she tell you to do? What advice would she give. Did she get the life she has without being just a bit selfish?   Let her be your inner guide.

I know many of these tasks are easier said than done. When I’m working with a client I can see clearly how she needs to be more selfish, yet I have difficulty taking exquisite care of my inner needs sometimes too. We all could use reminders and prodding. Let’s encourage each other to be more selfish– for our own sake and for the good of our families and communities.  Share your own ideas for how you’ll be more selfish in the comments below!

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