“When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself” – Paulo Coehlo
I love this quote and I’ve had it in my mind for many months. So many of us struggle with looking after ourselves first because we’ve fallen into the trap of calling it selfishness, but we forget that we cannot help others if we, ourselves, are empty, depleted and exhausted. We do not say no when we can. We fall into this trap of believing we’re being selfless but by not looking after ourselves, we become affected on much deeper levels.
We allow others to make decisions for us that are not in our best interests, we give away our power because we feel stuck and helpless and we become weak because we feel we have no choice. We ultimately become what we are trying to avoid; because what we believe is selfless ends up being selfish and that’s because we end up not being able to look after ourselves or others in the best ways possible. We come from a place of emptiness and not our best selves.
While I have become better at speaking up and saying no, I am also becoming aware of my own power and what I end up giving away when I do not look after myself. And by power, I really do mean just that; our inner strength, our voice, our ability to listen to our instincts and our ability to stand our ground. We all have an inner sense of power that gives us the ability to make decisions best for us. And when we do not do this, we slowly and surely erode our belief in ourselves and our inner strength. And how is an empty “us” useful?
My biggest learning of when I did this was when I married. At the time I felt I was not ready, too young (mentally and probably emotionally) and although I had spoken up about it, I gave in because I felt like I did not have a logical reason to say no and I would be letting the people I cared about and loved down. What I didn’t take into account was letting myself down. And a few years later, this translated into me feeling powerless and weak as I lost my voice and gave up my space. I was dead inside and had nothing to give to people. And it was only when I started pushing to be heard, standing up for myself and listening to my instincts did I get back my power and inner strength. Only when I started looking after myself did I have the energy to look after others.
The people who are afraid of your strength and do not want to see you in your power will call you selfish. The people who understand that the stronger you are, the better it is for everyone will be proud of you and will call it self-care. Think about the people who put you down when you’ve tried standing up for yourself; think about the people who ignore your words and continuously try overpower you. These are the people who are afraid of your truth, who are afraid of you discovering your own power because they, themselves, are acting from a place of selfishness. And that’s the main point – being selfish damages others, being self-caring ultimately empowers everyone.