Self-Care isn't the Same as Selfishness
We Don't Want to be Selfish!
I've been told that in the Mandarin Chinese language there are two different meanings for the word selfish. One definition captures the greedy-hoarding-take-care-only-of-ourselves mentality that we're all so afraid to ever be called. The other, though, speaks more of self-care, a nurturing and protecting of one self that recognizes we have to put our own oxygen mask on before we assist another.
There is a vast difference between the two. And I fear that sometimes we avoid the latter in an attempt to avoid the former.
But we're smarter than that. It's not a slippery slope where if you start caring for yourself it then leads to the selfishness we fear. On the contrary! I have found that the women who engage in the greatest amount of self-care are the ones who are least likely to grab, judge, condemn, compete, hoard, and devalue.
Healthy women show up in healthy friendships.
We Want to be Balanced!
And that's why I'm a cheering fan for my friend Jennifer Tuma-Young's book that is being released today: Balance Your Life, Balance the Scale: Ditch Dieting, Amp Up Your Energy, Feel Amazing, and Release the Weight. (It already has so many accolades, including being chosen by the Barnes & Noble Health & Diet expert as a "must-read" book!)
While Jennifer connects her 100+ lb weight loss story to her journey of finding joy and energy in her life, this is not so much a diet book as much as it is a book about increasing your own positivity, awareness, and emotional health. All things that certainly can impact our bodies and health, but factors that also influence our relationships.
If we're unhappy, burdened, exhausted, or stressed out-- it becomes nearly impossible to engage in meaningful ways in our relationships. (And for those of us who know how important it is to consistently be inviting new people into our lives-- we also know that showing up for drinks with near strangers takes an extra dose of invested energy!) The truth is that we have to do the personal work of being the kind of people who are healthy-- emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally.
When I speak on relationships I almost always have a woman raise her hand during the Q&A (or come up to me afterward) and try to convince me she just doesn't have time to nurture healthy friendships. I used to try to give suggestions for how to connect with friends even when we're busy, but I've since learned that they have an excuse for every suggestion. Which leaves me questioning them why they are asking me for help if they are already convinced that there is no solution? They almost always are as certain that friends are a priority to them as they are certain that they are justified that there is no time in their lives.
My answer to them now? "Your life is out of balance."
I'm not a big fan of the word balance-- it conjures up a picture of someone on a tight-rope trying not to fall or someone with a scale trying to precisely measure equality. No, it's not the metaphor I want for your life where you feel like if one unplanned event enters your day that it will throw the whole thing off.
When I use the word balance-- I mean is your life balanced, or in alignment, with the life you want? Are you living in integrity with what you say is important to you? If that woman at every event is convinced she wants friends but has no time for them-- then her life is out of alignment, off-balance.
The process that Jennifer puts forth in her book (filled with tons of coaching activities, journaling questions, and proactive steps) to help women evaluate their lives leads to a definition of balance that I can get behind. :)
N-- Notice Nature
A woman who is rich in those words will be a woman rich with friends and meaningful relationships! (An entire chapter is devoted to each of those words alongside the technique that helps you customize a long-term approach that helps you find a way of being that feels congruous and whole to you.)
But whether it's through a tool like a new book, or through you just going back to what has worked for you in the past (more nature walks? scheduling in what matters to your life? getting enough sleep?), if you find yourself saying you don't have time for friends, I challenge you to examine your life and see if it matches up to what you say matters to you?
And Balance Comes Through Self-Care...
Living a life that is in balance with our values and priorities requires you taking the time to actually know what your values and priorities are! And that awareness comes from self-care. (I'm not just talking about manicures as self-care! :) I'm talking about real mental clearing, life transformation, coaching/counseling, improved health.)
Even in the English dictionary I find that there is only one concept in the definition of selfish that should cause us pause. And that is words like "only" and "regardless of others."
self·ish [sel-fish] adjective: devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
But just because there can be an abuse of something doesn't mean we want to avoid seeking for the real thing.
Being devoted to or caring for ourselves is something I think we all need to pay more attention to, not just for our sakes, but ironically for those around us.
Which really, when you think about it, doesn't sound all that selfish at all! :)
I cheer today for Jennifer who launches her book into the world. Order it here on Amazon: Balance Your Life, Balance the Scale: Ditch Dieting, Amp Up Your Energy, Feel Amazing, and Release the Weight
And I cheer for all of us who make conscious decisions today to care for ourselves, in whatever ways we choose! Hugs!