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I would like to share with you a concept first developed by Dr. Hans Selye, because I think it is crucial to maintaining personal mental/emotional health.
Our society teaches us that 'selfishness' is a character flaw or inappropriate behaviour. I agree that in the extreme, or to the extent that it oppresses or hurts someone else, it is.
However, Dr. Selye wrote about a concept he called "altruistic selfishness" and this kind of selfishness is something that we all need to be healthy and function optimally.
The idea is, that we need to be 'selfish' enough to ensure that we take care of ourselves in order that we will have the strength and energy to giveback to others we care about and our community.
I'm not talking about living only to please yourself with no concern for the well-being of others!
But we do need to make sure that we listen to our bodies and feelings, and respect our own true needs as much as we do the needs of others.
The golden rule is to love others AS you love yourself,
NOT BETTER than you love yourself, or INSTEAD of loving yourself.
Many of my clients (particularly, but not exclusively, women) struggle with this concept. They have been socialized to believe they must put the needs of others before their own.
.But that belief is ultimately self-defeating(it's also exhausting!)
Why? Let me use a familiar example.
When you board an airplane, the flight attendants go through the emergency procedures.
They will advise that if the oxygen mask drops down, you must place the mask on YOURSELF FIRST.
Most people want to put the mask on their loved ones/children first.
But the truth is, the safest practise is to put it on yourself first, because if you don't, you won't be able to help your loved one.
The same principle applies in life.
We must keep ourselves in good shape in order to be able to give to our loved ones and community.
If you are not physically, mentally,and emotionally healthy, then you are not functioning optimally. You don't have the strength and energy to participate fully and give to your community and your family and friends, the way you want to.
So, while you may want to be a support to those you care about, you actually hinder your ability to do so, by not caring adequately for yourself.
When people come to see me, they are usually under great stress. The first thing we do is checkout how well they are caring for themselves.
Back to the basics; getting enough quality sleep, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, doing at least one thing per week that nurtures your soul.
So, until next time, be good to yourself, so you can be good to others!
Let me know how you care for yourself and feed your soul.
Let's start today to make a better tomorrow,