20 Feb
Self-love is not selfish

Many of us tend to put others needs before our own because we don’t want to be perceived as selfish or uncaring. However, often I see this resulting in people showing a lack of self-love and neglecting themselves.

It is important to distinguish these two terms and consider that it is impossible to meet the needs of others effectively without first taking care of oneself. Loving and prioritising yourself will not only prove to be a positive experience for your own evolution but improve your relationships and contributions to communities as well.

When we go through our day neglecting our basic needs, we become drained of our energy and too exhausted to invest in building connections or doing things that support others. We are also less likely to bring the most loving and caring version of ourselves to our relationships because the lack of self-care and self-love leaves us feeling miserable, tired and lacking clear thought.

By focusing on putting yourself first, you can regain that lost energy, and restore the vitality needed to be loving and caring towards others. I am not suggesting you be selfish and consider only your individual needs. Rather, that you pause and consider that you can’t pour from an empty cup. It is important to take care of yourself if you want to be able to care for others in any meaning capacity.

Loving yourself does not mean you think you are superior to others or deserve extra care and attention. It means you recognise your own needs and do what is needed to feel at your best. By contrast, being selfish means demonstrating a lack consideration for other people and be concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. It is vastly different from being mindful of your own self-care and needs so as to ensure that you can make meaningful contributions to your work and the lives of those you care about.

Consider this — if a loved one or friend is going through a difficult period and needs someone to act as a pillar of strength or provide advice that is thoughtful, helpful and beneficial, you will be much more able to meet their needs if you are in a stable, rested, peaceful place where you can think clearly about their circumstances. In the workplace, you also need to be in good form, so you are able to pull your weight and others are not forced to overexert themselves by having to complete your share of the workload.

When you are happy with the level of attention and love you are directing towards yourselves and meeting your personal needs, your energy will overflow. Everyone wins when you learn to love yourself more and you doing so is far from selfish. Here are some simple strategies you can implement to get you started on your journey towards greater self-love:

Live a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy by replacing excess sugar and refined foods with whole foods and lots of water. Give your body the ability to effectively burn the fuel you take in by getting daily exercise, thereby increasing your metabolism. There is a lot of hype about the cost of living right now but the truth of the matter is it can actually be very cheap to eat healthy. It is often less expensive to eat healthy than live off take out or junk food. Things like oats, legumes, eggs and frozen vegetables provide optimal nutrition at a very low cost. Getting adequate sleep also helps to ensure your mind functions properly and carving out 1 hour of your day to exercise (which represents 6% of most people's waking hours) is essential to yourself care.

Express yourself. This is one of the best ways you can take care of yourself mentally. This can be done in several ways. Mentally, we can express ourselves on paper. Keeping a personal journal in which, you can vent when needed will help keep emotions in check. Creative expression is important too, such as allowing yourself to feel and experience the wide range of emotions in a movie, or by working on a hobby that is close to your heart. Photography and other visual arts are also good for this. Remember, expressing yourselves creatively is as important as doing so mentally.

Spend some time alone. This will help you appreciate yourself more. Getting to know yourselves better should be a key goal. Some of you may think this will have the reverse effect but think positively! You would be surprised what becoming introspective will reveal. Discover yourself and learn to love it. Go for a scenic drive. Take a long bath. Surround yourself with music or just quietly meditate. Not only will you appreciate your own company more, but the relaxation will do wonders for your state of mind.

Pamper yourself. Take the time to treat yourself to something rewarding. Get a massage, a manicure, lie in the sun, get tickets to your favourite sporting event, or take time to just snuggle up, caress and nurture someone you love. Show yourself you care about your own happiness by creating more of it in your life and taking time to let yourself enjoy things you love to do.

If you need some help cultivating self-love, reach out to discuss holistic transformational therapies with me. Recognising the need to change can be hard however, repeating bad patterns is certainly harder over the long term. We can use hypotherapy, meditation and cbt to affect change effortlessly at the conscious and subconscious levels. Self-love is not selfish — it is the first step towards enabling you to give and contribute more.

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