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.
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.
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
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.