Giving yourself permission to be selfish is a vital act of self-love and self-care
“But isn’t that selfish?!?!” a caller on my Hay House Radio show exclaimed in horror when I suggested that she make herself a priority. “Yes,” I said, “Exactly!”
It was a woah-moment. The mere mention of encouraging her to give herself permission to honor her wants, needs and desires to be met, let alone become non-negotiables, was nothing short of earth-shattering.
I experience this with my clients all the time. Here’s where we get tripped up: most of us relate to selfish and selfless as being mutually exclusive. But they’re not.
Selfish is simply another way we can relate to self-care and self-love.
It is strengthening the relationship you have with yourself so you really can choose to say yes to you, in service of being more available to those you love. I want to be clear that when I’m talking about selfish — or self-care or self-love — it’s not at the expense of others. It’s always a both/and.
So many of us have disowned selfish, deeming it as bad or wrong, determined to be anything but selfish. Since we reject it, we end up projecting it out onto others. Then we end up finding ourselves surrounded by people who exhibit selfish behavior and so we point a finger at them. All that is really doing is illuminating the lack of integration of this very quality within ourselves.
The truth is that we are all selfish and selfless.
When we’re feeling that we can’t embrace our selfishness, what we’re really saying is that we can’t even bring ourselves into the equation, or conversation, to actually have our needs met. And I want to flip this, especially for those of us who have been people pleasers. For all of us who have been living in reaction to others, codependent and allowing our moods and behavior and actions to be determined by people around us.
Redefining selfish begins with being willing to believe you are worthy of receiving. Anchoring in your own non-negotiables, and giving to yourself as much (or more!) than giving to others, calls upon you to get comfortable with naming your own needs, and then asking for what you need!
“It’s one thing to honor myself and my needs when I’m on my own…but how do I do it when I’m in a relationship?” I get this question all the time. It may seem easier to do when we’re on our own — but really, if this is you, can you tell me honestly that you’re taking great care of yourself on your own, that you’re mastering this? In this case, the key is getting your priorities set in place when you are on your own so that once you’re in relationship you’re already in the practice of honoring yourself, instead of abandoning yourself for the sake of another. We are less likely to lose ourselves in relationship if we truly honor ourselves, and from here we can allow the relationship itself to honor the truth of who we are.
This, to me, is the new relationship blueprint. This is the way that we can actually, each of us, have our needs met in relationship in a healthy way. Trusting that our intimate relationships are a container that can hold the truth of who we each are, and that this container is strong enough to hold our differences, too. It’s about getting in touch with and expressing, “Here’s what I’m doing for myself in order to be me.” Not asking permission, simply informing. We can be available for impact, but we don’t have to change our minds.
We have to create the foundation of our own self-care — no one will do that for us.
Not too long ago, I found myself in that old familiar double-bind: If I please myself, I disappoint you. I was feeling strung out and overwhelmed from craving quality alone time. My system doesn’t rest or recharge when it needs to be relational. First I uncovered my desire, and then I let my man know that three mornings a week I wouldn’t be available for coffee together (a big desire of his) and instead I’d be in my office, with the door closed, spending time with myself.
It wasn’t easy for me to say, and it wasn’t easy to do on that first day — in fact I spent nearly the whole time writing in my journal about my uneasiness with having set such a self-honoring and self-loving boundary — yet, on the very next morning I took for me, I could already feel my worthy muscle begin to strengthen. Even though he was reluctant at first, he has begun relishing that time for himself as well, which is a lovely by-product.
I used to keep myself on the back burner, making everything and everyone around me more important. Living on high alert for the ways I could serve from the place of not disappointing someone else, not getting in trouble, not getting punished, not rocking the boat.
But, here’s the deal: The boat needs to be rocked!
You’re never going to be able to live into the fullness of the life you’re longing to inhabit unless you rock that boat. Listen to those inner whispers that have likely become wails by now, because you’re not actually giving voice to your truth. Everything we’re seeking externally needs to be resolved internally first. Knowing and owning our worth has to come from within. And so does our permission slip to be selfish.
When we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re more likely to slip into resentment. But if we can come to another from the place of already feeling full and filled within, we’re going to have so much more available to give.
I believe we’re in one long relationship continuum and that there’s a revolving door. It’s parents, bosses, lovers, siblings, children, friends — all the different people who will activate us so that we can learn what we came here to learn. I really believe that we orchestrate exactly what’s happening for us to learn what we came here to learn.
I lost myself completely in my marriage. It was a very long time to be away from myself. Now I have learned how to stay home inside myself in relationship and this is the part of my journey I’m most grateful for.
Now that I’m no longer trying to be seen in a certain light, or abandoning myself to buy love—or even ‘like’—I find I’m really okay with disappointing someone or rubbing them the wrong way, as long as I’m being true to me and I’m doing it in an honoring and loving way with grace. The most important thing is that I’m being true to me.
So, if I’m experiencing that no one is here for me then that is really about how I’m not here for me.
What are you willing to do around the relationship where you don’t feel free to be selfish? Are you ready to get in the right relationship with what’s true for you? Let’s look at how to live in alignment with your truth, from that place of inhabiting your truth, instead of walking on eggshells and making sure that everything is okay for someone else.
I want you to begin here with this daily practice: Upon waking, before your eyes are even open or much movement happens, ask yourself these two questions:
- What’s the most self-loving action I can take today?
- What’s the most self-honoring choice I can make today?
And then listen. Listen for the answers. And do them.
It might be to take a walk, buy yourself flowers, or have a bath. It might be a few hours on your own, or an overnight at a nearby hotel — or a faraway hotel. It could be a conversation or a decision that needs your attention. Keep it to something doable in that day.
Remember, it’s never too late to live your truth.
You may also enjoy reading Reclaiming Self Worth by Nancy Levin