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From the tiny decisions, like whether or not to have syrup in your latte, to the really big, life-changing choices; we are all driven by something.
Our choices are not random, far from it. Each time we ask ourselves a question we trigger a complicated ‘virtual flowchart’ of points to cover.
So when you are mentally checking in with yourself about the choice you are making – what points are you thinking through?
I wonder if you are checking to make sure that you are taking care of yourself? Or are you, like so many people, considering others before you?
For example, consider this scenario:
A good friend has had a bad week and wants to go out tonight for drinks and a good chat. It’s the middle of the working week, you have early starts at the office and honestly, as much as you love your friend, you would rather get to bed at a sensible time tonight, and give her your time and attention on the weekend instead.
Would you feel that saying yes to going out tonight and being there for your friend is the ‘right’ choice, or even what you ‘should’ do?
And then what about your own week at work? Will you have to struggle into the office tomorrow morning, bleary-eyed, and just suck it up?
Now just quietly, between you and I, would you actually prefer to go to bed sober and at a sensible time tonight? Would it make more sense to ask your friend if you could spend time together on the weekend instead – reminding her that you love her and are more than happy to listen to her woes – but at a time when you have more energy to be there for her?
If you went out with her tonight, would you be quietly resenting her a little bit for keeping you out late when you really need to rest?
Now here is the tricky part, where we talk about what is driving your choices…
If you choose to go out tonight, knowing that you will be a little bit resentful, and will also pay for it at work tomorrow – then what really drove the choice to say yes to your friend?
Maybe it is partly that you are afraid to upset her?
Perhaps you are so in the habit of saying yes that you’ve somewhere along the way forgotten how to say no?
Would you feel you were being selfish?
I know that a lot of people would feel terrible, and I think that’s a real shame.
If you feel too bad to say no, then go along with things you don’t really want to do, then you still end up feeling bad, just for different reasons.
In this scenario, there is a good chance your friend will pick up on your resentment, and feel worse herself too. So nobody wins.
Now here is the really surprising bit…
When we make authentic decisions, even if they feel a little bit ‘selfish’, they are at least honest. These decisions still come from a good place, and they end up benefiting everyone in the long run.
When you are looking after your needs you are happier, more energized, and better placed to really be there for others when they need you. We have all heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”, so please stop trying to!
Boundaries aren’t all about keeping others out – this is about respecting and protecting yourself.
When I work with my clients on The Sleep Deep Method, they initially come to me about their lack of sleep and constant tiredness. But when we drill down into the underlying issues; we often find a lack of self-care and boundaries, with a tendency to exhaust themselves to please others, is the root of their pain.
The worry about appearing ‘selfish’ causes so much stress in people’s lives. And I have to ask – is being ‘selfish’ even really so bad? I think we have blown this concern a bit out of proportion.
‘Selfishness’ has such a bad connotation to it. But I really believe that as long as we are still respecting others, then respecting ourselves and treating ourselves well is a really good thing.
A simple exercise to get you started:
Here’s one you can do at home!
Take 30 minutes out of your day and think about what putting yourself first means to you, and most importantly, be totally honest with yourself.
This exercise is not about expecting things from others; it is about finding ways that you can put yourself first because ultimately, nobody is going to do that for you!
Once you have had a think about these things, write a list of your top 5, and make a plan to integrate these into every day.
And they can be tiny things if you like, just make sure they are about your self-care, and not about anybody else.
If the items on your list feel to big and overwhelming, then how about just picking one and breaking that down into smaller, mini goals. For example, if the only thing you can think of is having a holiday (a common one with my clients) then think about how you can have a “micro holiday” every day!
Maybe your “micro holiday” is switching off your mobile for 30 minutes and watching a TV show that you like, uninterrupted by notifications coming in.
I mentioned this in a previous post – taking time out every single day for you (How does your 24 hours influence your life) – so you can find some more tips here if you need inspiration.
By doing these little things for you, and only you, the results will be amazing.
- You will feel less lonely and more connected
- You will feel less tired and more recharged
- You will feel less overwhelmed and more joyful
- You will feel less scattered and more focused
These bullet points are just some of the things my clients felt after our work together.
I want the same for you. It is such a different way of living your everyday life.
We can all achieve this if we allow ourselves to make a few little changes.
I would love to know how you are going to put yourself first! Share it in the comments below or connect with me direct.
Have a great day
She immediately put me at ease and gave me lifelong skills to help with my sleep patterns and helped me to overcome my insomnia.
How can I help you to sleep better at night and wake up rested and recharged?