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3 Ways I’m Striving to Become More Selfish

I’ve recently set a new goal for myself: Be more selfish.

As a recovering perfectionist, people-pleaser, and empathic multipotentialite; this is incredibly hard for me to accomplish.

Furthermore, it’s made increasingly difficult by fact that I exist as a woman in a society that tells me to be “selfless” and “nice”, and to prioritize everyone and everything before my own needs and…

Well, it’s been a recipe for exhaustion, overwhelm, and burnout.

I thought being engaged in my work, being productive, and being effective just wasn’t possible without feeling like I was constantly making a sacrifice or over-extending myself.

As a result, I’ve resisted becoming more selfish for years. Now that I am a “full-time helper” in my business as a career coach and in my online course, Guidance Counselling for Adults, being selfish has become something I couldn’t ignore any longer.

‘Selfish’ defined

Let me clarify what I mean by “selfish”…

When I say “selfish”, what I really mean is “self-hosting”. Unlike self-care, self-hosting consists of strategies that can be accessed regardless of finances.

To me, self-hosting seemed to be a selfish and unproductive waste of time.

I avoided self-hosting because I had assumed it would decrease my productivity, achievement, and fulfillment.

Practicing self-hosting, however, has had the exact opposite effect.

Self-hosting

When I self-host, I’ve noticed that the following changes occur:

  • I’m able to be more present and effective with coaching clients and GCA students
  • My ability to prioritize increases (this is super important because due to my many interests, it can be hard to zero-in)
  • My perfectionist tendencies dissolve, indecision decreases, and I produce higher quality work, faster
  • I’m more resilient and take more risks
  • My relationships improve significantly (I’m looking at you, wonderful husband)
  • I’m able to be more generous with my time
  • I experience a fulfillment, engagement, and flow in my work—and in life in general

3 Strategies

Over the past year, I’ve started practicing self-hosting in three main ways. These strategies are definitely not new, but putting them into practice has been new to me.

  1. Continually checking in with myself
  • I start by asking myself what I want and need, instead of jumping immediately to cater to others
  • Owning and communicating what I want and need (this can be especially difficult when it conflicts with other’s needs)
  • When I can’t get what I need, I try to set up supports to make the situation easier for myself
  1. Setting boundaries
  • Being honest with myself about what I’m willing to offer and what I’m not—this means that when I say “yes,” it’s a “true yes”
  • Recognizing that if I say no, I may feel uncomfortable in the moment but it will save me from resentment (or even anger) in the future
  • Finding ways to say a kind and firm no / not right now / suggest an alternative
  1. Noticing and prioritizing my physical and mental health
  • There’s a reason my childhood swimming instructor nicknamed me “Pit Bull Meisner.” Once I set my mind to something, there’s no stopping me. This can be useful when things need to get done; but if I don’t pick up on my body’s warning signs to slow down, powering through comes at the expense of my health.
  • Being gentle and kind to my body—just because I can stay up all night working doesn’t mean it’s a good idea
  • Asking myself how I can be more gentle and kind to myself, especially since I tend to set exorbitantly high expectations

I used to see these actions as selfish (and frankly, was a bit envious of people who had mastered them) but I now see these self-hosting strategies as essential.

It’s definitely not easy to self-host (it’s pretty challenging, actually) but now see it as a necessary investment in myself; and in the sustainability of my health, my relationships, and my work.
Kathryn Meisner

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