Be Selfish

by  Jane Anderson  |  Self Leadership
Be Selfish

Are you selfish?

What was your answer? You said no, didn’t you? Nobody wants to be known as the selfish one. Nobody wants a reputation as a taker. For the next 900 words or so, be selfish.

Here. Let me ease your mind a bit. Instead of thinking “selfish,” think “self-care.” Think about taking care of you so you can take care of others. Does that help?

Sometime between 1806 and 1861, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote a sonnet that starts out, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.” One hundred and fifty years later, the intensity of that love illustrates how we should take care of ourselves, body, soul, and spirit. This topic, intense self-care, is of library proportion, so we are going to boil it down to just a few points.

  1. You can’t fool your body
  2. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are healthy habits
  3. Planning to plan is just a plan
  4. Approach with caution, but at least approach

You can’t fool your body. Your body knows what it needs. Sleep. Exercise. Water. Food. We often rationalize as these thoughts stream through our minds. We join a gym, buy flashy exercise clothes and designer shoes, but “My unused membership card has been lost for months.” We can say we exercise. “Didn’t I walk to the furthest coffee station six times today?” We can say we eat right. “Pizzas have a variety of meats and veggies – and mozzarella is low fat. Everyone knows that!” We can say we get enough sleep. “I had a power nap between the evening news and NCIS.”

We can’t fool our bodies. They know what they need. If you are no longer thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Don’t wait for thirst before you drink water. Don’t wait for exhaustion before you finally sleep. Don’t wait until you’re ready to gnaw on the furniture before you feed your body. Don’t wait until you’re going to crack before you ask for help. Don’t wait until your muscle tone is indistinguishable from other flesh before you tone up. Don’t wait until launching a set of stairs sends your cardio system into chaos before you decide to get off the couch and exercise.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are healthy habits. If you think you need 21 days to form a new habit, you have skewed thinking. Every day you do that new thing is a day you do that new thing. You don’t need 21 days. You need to start. Today would be a good day for that. Pick one thing.

Is it sleep? Set up your favorite shows to be recorded, and Go. To. Bed. Be the 9-year old for a change. Put yourself to bed so you get more sleep. Eight hours is optimum, but make up your mind to get seven or maybe 6.75 to start.

Is it exercise? Go now to your closet. Do not pass go. Do not collect anything on the way. Find your shoes, your socks, your workout clothes with the hang tags that say “You can do this!” Now, will you work out at home or the gym? Decide because a delayed decision is still a decision. Right? And look where that mindset has gotten you so far. “It’s gotten me clothes that are still new,” you might say. Well, there’s that.

Is it drinking more water? A good rule of thumb is one ounce for every two pounds of your body weight. So, divide your weight in half – and drink up. I don’t know about you, but I get cold when I drink cold water so I often drink hot water and put lemon slices in it. Your skin will thank you and so will your joints and muscles. Water is your friend. Everyone needs more friends.

Is it eating a healthy diet? Clean eating is all the rage, right? I could advocate for clean eating, all natural, sans chemical processing. As a first step, though, eliminate junk food and feed your body fruits, veggies, and lean protein. If you need a definition of junk food, think of it as a consumable product that bears little resemblance to the natural item it came from. How close to a potato is a chip? We live in America. There is food on every corner and in every place where fuel is found. When was the last time you went to fill your car with gas and weren’t at least tempted to pick up a bag of chips or super-sized candy bar? You know they get you bonus points on your rewards card!

Planning to plan is just a plan. You do it for your business all the time. You use it to keep your family on schedule. For work and home you don’t just write a plan then do nothing with it. You plan, you act, you do. Write your plan and stick it on your mirror, your TV, your fridge. Make a promise to yourself. Make a promise to your significant other. Make a promise where people can see it and hold you accountable. Not ready for that? Planning to plan is just a plan.

Approach with caution, but at least approach. Maybe all this sounds good. Maybe it even sounds appealing. What happens many times is that someone decides they need to jump into everything at once, like a cannonball. Have you ever seen the effects of a cannonball when it hits? OK, I’m talking about the movies, but you know what I mean. Even when you know you need to get more sleep, exercise, drink water, and eat healthier, don’t become so overzealous that you hit the ground running and only add more stress to your life. Approach with caution, but do approach.

Self-care says “I’m worth it. I don’t want to get up in the morning and feel like a slug. I don’t want to stall when getting out of the chair because my joints want to go one way when I need to go the other. Self-care says I was only issued one body at birth and I only have one chance to keep it going till the race is over.” Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is essential.

Live a balanced life – learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work every day some. – Robert Fulghum in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

How can you “be selfish” in a way that is good for your health? Tell me about it in the comments!

About The Author

Articles By jane-anderson
Jane’s professional experience is scattered across industries from financial services and insurance to engineering and manufacturing. Jane sees her background in writing and editing website content as the foundation to her current love of social media. Being an avid reader, meticulous note taker and lifelong learner has fostered her natural pursuit of sharing her world through writing book reviews and blog posts.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Jane Perdue  |  20 Feb 2017  |  Reply

Great reminders, Jane! If we don’t take care of ourselves, then we can’t care for others…a lesson I had to learn the hard way. Thanks for sharing insights so people can be proactive. Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s smart! Smiles!

Jane  |  20 Feb 2017  |  Reply

Thank you, Jane. Everything I wrote is from first hand experience. When people tell me that at my age I’ve earned the right to stop exercising and eating healthy foods I remind them that at my age I have so far managed to escape the pain and ailments common to aging people. You can’t fool your body.

Nathan Regier  |  20 Feb 2017  |  Reply

Jane, thank you so much for this reminder and admonition! We like to use the word self-ful to describe what you shared. Because the body speaks its mind, we would be better off if we listened to it and honor what we hear.

Jane  |  20 Feb 2017  |  Reply

Hey Nathan, I love that. Self-ful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Mary C. Schaefer  |  20 Feb 2017  |  Reply

Jane, what an excellent probe into self-care. I’m glad you chose to focus on health. Easy for so many of us to relate to. What great tips.

And I love your Nathan Regier’s mention of “self-ful.” As we know there many ways we can be self-ful.

One of the most difficult I find is the ability to say “yes” to myself when it means saying “no” to others. I’ve been called selfish. I’ve had people be downright speechless when I’ve turned down a request, offer or invitation. I’ve also had people just roll with it and be quite gracious.

I know this. When I agree to something I really don’t want to do, over time, resentment grows. The resentments pops out at some inopportune moment. I show impatience or snap at someone who probably isn’t even the source of the resentment. And I brought it on myself. That isn’t care or self-care. Thank you for the reminder of this important concept.

Jane  |  21 Feb 2017  |  Reply

Mary, I recognize your description perfectly. I learned to say no when I was a stay at home mom. Women just assumed I could do ‘whatever’ because I “didn’t work”. I went through years of saying no in different ways until I settled on, “Thank you for thinking

Jane  |  21 Feb 2017  |  Reply

(Continued)…thinking of me. Let me consider it.” Then I would say yes or no according to what I knew in my heart was the best yes or the honest no. At the time I didn’t think of it as self care, but that’s what it was.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

Mary C. Schaefer  |  21 Feb 2017  |  Reply

“Thank you… let me consider it.” What great go-to language, Jane. Thanks!

Marcus Walfridson  |  22 Feb 2017  |  Reply

Thank you for this post Jane!

It’s easy to forget oneself when you are occupied with thinking of everyone else’s well-being. It’s also a very, very satisfying feeling when you resist the urge of buying that candy bar when you stop for gas or choose a salad when your first instinct is that burger menu.

Can I suggest keeping a journal so that you can keep track of these small but important accomplishments that eventually will change your habits. That way you can reflect on these small wins during the day and feel good about your self to increase the motivation of doing it tomorrow as well…


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