Louise Hay said: “I’m worth about the best things in life and I now lovingly allow myself to accept it.”
Looking back at life, we sometimes see that for long time. We struggled to take care of our own wants and needs and we did not make them a priority. Sometimes, we used to find those things uncomfortable and even selfish. We are sometimes masters of giving, but we also face some serious obstacles of receiving.
People can be a nurturer by nature. They can find tremendous joy and fulfillment in giving, so they offer plenty of time and energy to everyone around them. We are always doing our best in order to please other people and make them happy. We personally believe that there is nothing wrong about that, and that our only mistake will be treating ourselves as unimportant.
The writer of the article says that several years ago, while she was working for an international corporation in Shanghai, was assigned to organize a major team-building event for the organization. She decided to go for a Chinese food cooking class. She says that everything went beautifully and everyone had pretty much fun. People were cooking, laughing and taking pictures, while she was supervising and making sure that everything was going impeccably.
After the cooking class, it was dinner time. It was time to eat those delicious foods and enjoy the relaxing evening together. She had spent hours setting the table, preparing different team games, and making sure that the event will be something to remember. And, so it was, she says, especially for her.
She says that she will never forget that day. It was something transformational for her; but after that a wake – up call happened which shocked her to the bones. Her colleagues asked her where is she going to sit and have dinner. She could not answer to them. She had been so focused on making everything perfect for everyone else that she has completely forgotten about herself.
Her colleagues had their own seats and were ready to enjoy the meal, except for her. She was planning to grab something to eat at the end, if anything was left until then for sure. Even more, she said that she would entertain everyone and play the master of ceremonies, even if no one had ever asked to do that.
She was the only responsible person for that unfortunate decision to please others but not herself. Her first reaction was to blame herself. She asked herself how could she have done such thing? How could she have been so stupid? Deep inside, she was feeling angry and upset with her mother as well, because since she was young, she watched her mother how she was dedicating herself to them, her family, day and night. She was never tired (that is what they thought), and she was always available and willing to help them. In addition, she says that she watched her mother taking care of the household and working full time, including night shifts as well.
She wishes that her mother would have taught her differently, in order to tell her about healthy boundaries and self-care. But, that was the best that she knew and she also did the best she could, the author says. The mother or her mother has done the same thing and so had her grandmother.
Nowadays, she says that she feels thankful for this gift. Her mother taught her how to serve, nourish, and nurture from the heart. However, there was only one thing for her to learn as a grown – up woman: the self – care was not something selfish, but something fair. Like everyone else, she is also a person who is worthy of love, care and attention.
She knows that she needed that experience, in order to understand how old, inherited patterns of behavior didn’t serve her well. People can only change the things they are aware of and accept to be true for themselves. Staying in denial is just a trap.
So, here is what she says that worked best for her and helped her to take much better care of herself:
1. Do more things for your own heart and soul.
If you cannot find time for yourself in your busy agenda, make yourself one. All of us have 24 – hours a day and our wants and needs are very important.
You should start spending a higher number of hours all by yourself. It will not mean that you are not a social person or that you do not love the people around you. That will be a way just to reconnect with yourself and get grounded, reflect and recharge.
Start taking breaks between working hours, because you are not a robot. Sometimes, you can go out for a nice walk in the nature. You can also watch a good movie, or read a good book. Listen to relaxing recordings, with your eyes closed. Furthermore, treat yourself to a massage, or use the beautiful bed sheets and the nice towels, instead of saving them for your guests, as you are worth that.
2. Take good care of your body.
You should know that your body is your temple to your soul. It is the only one that you got. So, because of this, you should make sure that you give it nutritious foods and plenty of water as well. You should also schedule those much-needed doctor appointments and yearly health checks. When you will need a rest, take a nap. Put your phone on silent and disconnect from the outer world for a while. Surprisingly, the world will not collapse.
3. Set healthy boundaries with the outer world.
One of the most things the writer says that she had to learn was how to say no to things which she really didn’t want to do, without feeling selfish guilty of overly worried that she may hurt or upset someone else.
You can struggle with this problem in your personal relationships, but not only in this area of your life.
This can also be a challenge at work. For example saying yes to tasks which are not part of your job profile or volunteering to take on some new projects when you already had a lot of other things to do.
But one day, the writer says, she decided to speak up for herself and see what will happen. Surprisingly, everything was just fine for her when she started telling them what she actually needed.
For her, setting healthy boundaries was a learned practice, and here is where she is today:
If it sounds like “should”, she does not do it, she says. She has learned how to say no to things which she don’t really wanted to do, without fearing that she may disappoint other people.
Saying no does not mean that you dislike or reject the other person. You know that you cannot disappoint anyone by saying no. People are those who disappoint themselves by expectations that they set from whom they want someone to be and what they expect them to do. It is always about them and it has nothing to do with us. If they truly love you, they will completely understand you.
It is not your job to please other people. You should not feel like you owe anyone any explanations or apologies for the way you spent your precious time and with whom you spent it. We always choose how much we actually give.
Setting boundaries in a relationship may seem like something selfish to the outer world. But, in reality, it is just a form of self – respect, self – love and self – care.
4. Stop fighting for perfection.
The writer says that, years ago, she almost got burnt out of work. She was working ten hours a day as a rule, plus the weekends. She was not sleeping well and she generally spent her weekend time recovering from the stress through overeating.
One day, she collapsed. She often saw her colleagues leaving the office after the normal working hours, while she was doing overtime regularly. She blamed herself for being less intelligent than her peers, thinking that her brain could not handle her assignments at the same speed. In other words, she thought that she was stupid.
After that, she talked with her manager about her workload, and that was transformational. She told him that she felt too hard to handle. She says that she will never forget the words he said to her:
“Sara, I really do appreciate your hard work and I’m even pleased to have you in my team. However, I want you to know that the only thing I expect from you is to run the daily business. I have never asked you for perfection, but for being good enough.”
What he said to her was mind – blowing. For the first time in her life she came to understand that “good enough” had never been part of her repertoire. She was not able to define what that was. Furthermore, she always wanted things to do everything perfectly so no one could hurt or blame her for anything on her performance. She was an overachiever, identifying her human worth through her professional results and achievements.
She was raising the bar so high that her body couldn’t cope with the expectations that she had set for herself any longer. Nobody else was responsible for her situation, but she was.
Here, she says what she learned from the experience: The need for perfection in consuming energy, and it can be exhausting for both the body and the soul. If this sounds familiar to you, please note that you will never get rid of perfectionism till you learn how to be okay with good enough.
Nowadays, she does the best she knows and the best she can be in every situation. She also aims to progress instead of perfection. She has learned how to embrace her mistakes as much – needed opportunities for growth. Now she knows she is not a superwoman, and that all of us have good and bad days.
5. Let go of the “do it all” mentality.
In a society that values human worth through how well they do things in their lives, most of them have just forgotten to be. Everyone is in a hurry, doing something or running somewhere. A lot of people have even started to feel guilty for doing nothing.
But, here is what she believes: Doing nothing does not necessarily mean that a person is lazy. As long as it comes from an empowering place of choice, doing nothing is also an action.
6. Love and approve yourself as you are.
She is brutally honest with this one: She often used to put other people’s needs above her own not because she genuinely wanted to help others. In many cases, she did it as she wanted people to like her. She wanted to be seen as someone that could handle everything in her private life and career so that people would perceive her as invincible, irreplaceable and very strong. She wanted to feel important, valuable and needed, especially on work.
This came along with a very strong need for control. She thought that would allow her to trust that she will always be included in her group of friends, safe and never abandoned.
According to the Maslow’s pyramid of human needs, every person has a basic need to feel a sense of belonging to a particular group of community. However, when the cost is living behind a mask and has a hidden agenda, our relationships can become inauthentic, unhealthy, and even toxic.
She says that when she looks back on her past, realizes that she often used other people as an instrument of self – validation. In addition, she has spent so much of her precious time trying to please other people and she didn’t have had energy to focus on herself and on what he truly wanted.
She needed other people to fill her void and help her top avoid herself.
Sometimes, focusing on other people can be a way for us to escape our own flaws and limitations. She used to associate this behavior with the extroverted side of her personality. Today, she knows that it was a big lie.
Once she learned to approve on herself unconditionally and treat herself as she was her own best friend, she didn’t needed other people to validate her. Even though she says that she still needs to be loved and appreciated, she is not needy for approval any longer. And, she also does not need to control how people perceive her. She knows that they always see her filtered through their own lenses.
Once a person starts taking care of itself – its body, mind and soul – he/she starts feeling happier and more balanced, energized and alive as well. Investing in your self – care can be the best decision that you can ever make, and it can also be a life changing one.
Now, we would like to hear from you. Have you ever felt like taking enough care of yourself and prioritizing the desires and needs of your heart was selfish? Do you also tend to put the wishes and wants to other people before your own? And why do you think you do that?