But not in the way you think…
Being called selfish is not considered a compliment. It is a straight-up insult to most people. We have been trained to be good humans and care for others. Therefore, being selfish is equated to being a bad person.
Here’s the problem.
Good people caring for others eventually hit a limit. Even the best intentions cannot override physiology and mental-emotional capacity. Just like all of nature, there is ebb and flow, inhale and exhale. If all you did were exhale, you would lose oxygen and suffer. If all you did were spending money and not receive it, you would suffer.
Selfless, helpful intentions without the balance of receiving as much as giving can become toxic and backfire.
People-pleasing, caretaking, and leaving yourself last every day lead to an inevitable- and natural- backlash.
Self-Betrayal breeds Resentment
Self-betrayal is when we leave ourselves for others.
When we say yes when we mean no.
When we never even consider putting ourselves on our own list.
Ultimately, most people self-betray to avoid being seen as…you got it…SELFISH.
Scared, tired people become reactive, survival creatures.
When you are scared and tired, you know you are typically more impatient, forgetful, hot-tempered, accident-prone, judge-y, finger-pointing, and of course SELFISH- but in a bad way. There is a bad selfish, the type where you are only out for yourself – ahem… buying all the toilet paper in the store regardless of other people’s needs – where you harden and become bitter and self-serving.
This kind of selfishness separates you from others. This is the ‘us versus them’ selfish. When we are tired and reactive, we want to contract, retreat, fight, or just check out.
Scared and overextended people lead to unhappy, unloving humans.
We can’t get around it.
Have you ever heard of the term “Hangry?” – being so hungry you become angry? Yep, this is the same kind of thing.
Our body senses the depletion and acts out in an attempt to get its needs met. We need to stop denying our needs and tend to our nature, or we will get hijacked by our survival mechanisms and unable to reel it in.
Here are some ways humans respond to being over-taxed and under-resourced:
- Physically- We get anxious, achy, amped up or very lethargic, can’t relax, lacking quality sleep, cravings for food or no appetite at all, the tendency for addictive behavior, and just plain yucky.
- Mentally- When we are stressed, we experience high beta brain waves (18–40 Hz): associated with significant stress, anxiety, paranoia, high energy, and high arousal. This is when we are in a reactive state of mind. We are also susceptible to act out with excessive social-media scrolling, junk food, staying up too late, or any behavior we know is not good for us.
- Emotionally- We experience life as impatient, intolerant, overwhelmed, “this is never going to end,” “why is this happening to me/us,” “It’s just too much.” We feel like a victim. We feel overburdened. We feel like we can’t keep up. We feel trapped.
- Spiritually- We might feel completely alone and like the world is out to get us. Or engage in spiritually bypassing by checking out, believing God will do everything, so there’s no need to participate or be responsible.
Your nature is trying to tell you in many ways that something is off. The above symptoms are not things to slog through. They are signs to take a step back, reassess and do what you can to fill back up before going full tilt again.
Physiologically, to be kind, first, you must be Selfish.
When we are tuned up and taken care of, our entire bodies are chemically capable of kindness, caring, connecting behaviors. Our feel-good hormones abound when we are selfish enough to stay tuned up. We can give from our overflow, or at the least share a sip of what’s already in our cup.
When we are not acting from exhaustion and burden, we will be good people naturally.
How to be Selfish to be Your Best Self
- Decide on 3 things you need to ‘be more you’ each day. They only need to take 2-5 min if need be. If you’d like more about this, download your Self-Care Checklist.
- Be mindful of your time, attention, and energy. Don’t just react through the day; set an intention for how you want to be and what 1-3 things you can focus on and move forward each day. This also releases the feel-good hormone dopamine, which releases when you get things done. YAY. Checkmark.
- Take on a new motto of “gentle, slow, and kind.” Everything will get done. It’s really all just stuff: Phew- sigh of relief.
- Change your expectations of what life “should be.” Do what is in front of you.
- Set reminders on your phone if you need a breathing break, a reminder, an affirmation, or anything that will fill you up.
- Practice saying NO when you cannot take something else on.
- Practice boundaries when people are expecting too much from you and are all up in your energy.
- Practice Self-Acknowledgment. Go throughout the day or week and mentally celebrate your little or big wins.
- Stop feeling guilty for having needs or taking up space. Use your voice. Let people help you. Love yourself enough to do what you can every day and let go of everything else.
- Realize that your value is NOT in what you do for others. You are valuable because you exist; you being you is the value.
So, you see, choosing your needs IS being generous to others. Because now you are capable to give of yourself from your highest possible energy.
You have the time to be SELFISH in order to be Self-FULL.
I recorded a process to help you bring yourself back to a sense of stability. Find it here.