How funny it is that “self” is the root of the word selfish.
It can make us think that if we’re doing something for ourselves, we’re being inherently selfish. But that just isn’t so.
There’s a phrase I’m sure you’ve heard in one of its many forms. Two of these, in particular, have resonated with me lately. In the words of Brené Brown, “talk to yourself as you would talk to someone you love,” and
You might be more familiar with, “treat others how you would want to be treated,” or “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Now, all of these phrases may seem to give the same general message, but I find a distinct difference in the structure of the sentences themselves; Brene Brown and Rupi Kaur put the self first, rather than the others.
In today’s society, (or at least in the groups of people I spend most of my time with) people tend to forget just how important it is to put ourselves first sometimes. If you don’t take care of yourself - your one body, your one mind - how can you be expected to take care of others?
Media tells us that in order to be good people, we have to give to the less fortunate, donate our time, money, etc. All of which are wonderful, commendable acts, which I do, of course, support.
But what media fails to mention is that we can’t fully give ourselves - our time, thoughts, charity, love - to others, unless we give the same to ourselves first.
Only recently have I started to notice talk of self-care surface in pop culture. Now, more than ever, it is increasingly important. We’re living in a culture where multi-tasking has become the norm, and sleeping (poorly) for three hours a night is completely acceptable. People get into the habit of living this way, and eventually think nothing of it, at least for a few years. But this kind of lifestyle simply isn’t healthy or sustainable. It can lead to a multitude of ills - think adrenal fatigue, mental fog, depression. The list goes on, but you don’t have to subject yourself to it.
Tim Ferriss said, “what we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” And that is probably why most people don’t take the time for themselves. Often, we’re afraid of being alone. After all, even when we are at home by ourselves, we always have access to social media. So it is completely possible to literally never be alone. We can always find some form of contact.
It is completely abnormal for people of our generation to be alone with their thoughts. To really focus solely on themselves. That is why we’re afraid of is, and that is why we need to do it more often.
We all need time for ourselves. To recharge, gather our thoughts, make plans without basing them around others. Sometimes we just need to do nothing. And sometimes we need to take a bubble bath, paint our toes, and have a Netflix marathon!
Next time you think about what you need to do for someone else, pause, and ask what you can do for yourself first. What can you do to improve your own well-being that will allow you to give yourself more fully to others afterward? Whatever it is you need to do to care for yourself, just do it! And don't feel bad about it.
If these ideas resonated with you, you’ll love to hear Brené Brown chat with Tim Ferriss on his podcast. You can listen here.