A few months ago I wrote a post called, “Everyone deserves their own island.” In that post I focused on being able to appreciate time on your own. What I didn’t discuss was actually deciding on what to do with your time. Let’s face it, society teaches us from a young age that when you use statements such as, “Me” or “I” or “ My time” or “ No” you’re being selfish and no one likes selfish people. And that is what we want right? To be liked? So then why do we always hear statements that tell us that “it’s important to love ourselves first” or “be precious about your time”? What a contradiction – we are brought up in a society that places odd demands on us and says one thing but expects different results.
Yesterday I had a few hours to myself in the morning (something I can quickly get used to). I had hours to do what I wanted to do without subconsciously worrying about anyone else. And the end result was that everyone benefited (and I didn’t end up craving alone time by the evening). So is this what is meant by loving yourself first? It sounds so self-centred. Any statement that has “I” in it comes across as egotistic. While the statement itself comes across as selfish the actions and long-term consequences are beneficial to everyone else. If you are constantly putting others first – always trying to ensure everyone else has had their say and they have done what they wanted then your wants and needs will gather up dust and eventually you’ll just become a frustrated person, not knowing why or how or when you became like this. And people will not recognise this monster that’s you (and I’m talking about the Shrek in Shrek 1; not in Shrek 3). And no one benefits. But imagine if you actually did what you wanted or didn’t do what you didn’t want to do – imagine how happy you would be? And imagine people seeing that happiness in you and enjoying being around you?
And this is where I get stuck – what’s the difference between loving yourself and being selfish? In my mind loving yourself means being selfish but are we not taught that this is a bad thing? Or does it just mean knowing when you need to do something for you as opposed to always doing what you want to do? Let’s say your other half loves shopping and you detest it (if you could afford it you would have a personal shopper) – do you never go shopping with him/her or do you compromise? This is where you need to ask yourself what will make you happier; making someone else happy by sacrificing a few moments of your time or by you spending time with someone important doing something they enjoy? It might be all about balance and if that were easy to do there would be no need for these posts at all.
It might just all be about perspective and a change in language or about asking the right questions: How best would you like to spend your time? And when put this way it doesn’t sound as selfish does it?