Being a huge nerd, I was recently involved in an epic conversation about who would survive a zombie apocalypse. Spoiler alert: I would not. According to everyone else present, the key to survival is to save yourself first. Always. But I know myself, and my first reaction would be to save my loved ones. Apparently that makes me a sucker and will get me killed.
Back in the real world, I don’t believe that gut reaction to put others over myself will ever actually get me killed- but it does take a toll. And I am working on making my needs and wants more of a priority. You could say I’m trying hard to be more selfish.
Growing up, my Grandmother was always the last one to eat. She was always the one who cleaned up. Taking care of the children was her job. Taking care of the house was her job. Looking back on it, I have no idea if she was happy. And even worse, I don’t remember ever even thinking about it. That was just how it was. I have never been selfless to the point of my Grandma, but I do see how it could happen. So how do you change something that is in your very nature?
I read a Blog over on LDHustle recently that talked about just that in regards to business, but I think her points apply here as well. Here’s the gist of what she had to say:
- If you allow yourself to burn out, you’ve got nothing to offer other people. An empty lantern provides no light.
- It isn’t selfish- it’s common sense. Take care of yourself first, that way you are healthy enough (or happy enough, fulfilled enough, loved enough, etc.) to take care of your people.
- Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. The only person you can be is you, and that is enough.
- Cut yourself some slack. It’s okay that your house isn’t perfect, or the cake you made for your son’s birthday belongs in the Pinterest Fail category, or the only books you read are about supernatural teenagers. It really is okay.
- If you focus on what you love, and what makes you happy, you are showing others that you are important. This one is mostly for those of us with kids. We don’t want to teach our kids that it’s okay for Mom to not be happy- or do without. We don’t want to teach our kids that it’s okay for Grandma to always eat last.
- Be realistic. Goals are awesome, but only attainable goals will change your life.
- Give yourself time to do nothing. Watch bad tv. Take a nap. Roam the aisles of Target aimlessly. Whatever makes you feel relaxed, do that.
I think the most important thing to remember is that if you are happy and fulfilled, you’re much more likely to make others feel happy and fulfilled and that’s all that really matters. (Unless you’re happy and fulfilled because you’re on Meth- that’s bad. You need to work on that.)