“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you” – Katie Reed
You may have heard the phrase “fill your own cup first”, meaning that you can’t be a good friend, mother, co-worker, sister if you’re trying to give from an empty cup.
If you don’t fill your own cup first, you have no energy or resources left over to give anyone else. And anything you do give will take even more out of you, leading you quickly down a path to burnout.
And when you’re burned out, you’re not in a fit state to help anyone.
Learning to be Selflessly Selfish
A wise friend & mentor Alex once said to me “Caroline, it’s about learning to be selflessly selfish.”
If you’re a serial people-pleaser like me, this is probably a difficult concept to get your head around.
Eeewwww! The thought of actively being selfish felt very uncomfortable to me! Being selfish was something I was taught from a very young age was “bad”.
But as I have grown up, I have learned that what Alex said is true.
It’s actually an act of selflessness to be selfish sometimes… selfish enough at least to make sure your own battery is regularly topped up.
It’s true, I was always afraid of saying no to people, of not responding to their messages straight away, of turning down invites. Thinking that they’d think bad of me if I wasn’t there for them, that I didn’t like them anymore, that they’d done something wrong… I was afraid of hurting them or losing them as a friend.
And I was always drastically overestimating what I was capable of achieving in a period of time, meaning I would work late into the the night to stay on top of things, prioritising the things everyone else asked for first, and often sacrificing the things I wanted to do for myself.
But rushing around from one event to another, turning up late, being distracted, leaving everything to the last minute probably created even more resentment – on both sides.
Since I’ve started practising putting myself first and meeting my needs before others, I’ve been able to show up much more fully for others.
🧡 I am less distracted, less forgetful, less disorganised.
🧡 I am more present in conversations because my mind is not elsewhere on the million other things I said I’d do and often didn’t.
🧡 I am more engaged in the activities I choose to take part in because I have the time & the energy for them.
🧡 I am more productive because I am able to focus on the things I’ve chosen to do until they’re done, without getting distracted.
🧡 I am more fulfilled because I have time & energy to put more thought into things like gifts & birthday cards.
🧡 I am more energised because I spend more time looking after my physical, mental & emotional health.
🧡 I feel happier because I am making time for the things that matter to me and make me feel good.
🧡 And I feel happier because I am being the kind of friend I want to be and that my friends deserve.
Maybe I don’t keep in touch with as many people as I used to, maybe I don’t socialise as much as I did before, but the relationships I do choose to nurture are all the stronger for it. And the impact I have on others through my work is greater too, which contributes by giving my life more meaning.
And more importantly, I maintain a much healthier balance in my life which brings me peace.
Ways of practising Self Care
… Whether it’s my morning routine or having a Digital Detox Day every so often.
… Whether it’s regular “Self Love Saturdays”, or taking a planned break once every 3 months to Rest & Reflect.
… Whether it’s learning to say “No” to more things, or saying yes to the things that really matter.
There are many ways I practise self care.
What do you struggle most with when trying to put yourself first?
To living a life you love,