Healthy Selfishness

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: I discovered this photo from my friend and colleague Leslie Schilling’s facebook post. Check out her blog– you’ll love her sensible and sassy nutrition expertise.

 
This time of year is all about giving. So I thought I’d be a little subversive and talk about taking. This post is all about healthy selfishness. What is healthy selfishness you ask? Well, it’s a term I made up. And I think the term is both awesome and useful. Yes, we have all heard the whole airline analogy- in case of an emergency you have to put your oxygen mask on before your child’s. But it’s so much more than that!

Health selfishness is about becoming clear on what you need, owning what you need whenever possible, and not apologizing for it. In essence, it’s about becoming attuned to your own sense of what is right for you . And the really amazing thing is that when you are attuned and responsive to your own needs, your capacity to give to others grows.

It may be helpful for us to break this down into categories. And when you are a tad OCD like me, breaking things down into categories always feels like the right thing to do! Let’s think about your wellness in three areas: physical, mental, emotional. You can imagine them like a Venn diagram because they are separate but have areas of overlap.

In order for you to become more clear about ways you need a little more healthy selfishness in your life, consider answering the following questions:
1. When it comes to my physical, mental, or emotional health what do I need more/less of?
2. What would it require for me to get more/less of that thing?
3. Am I willing to take what it requires?
4. If I have trouble justifying it for myself, would I think it seemed reasonable for someone else?

I’ll share with you one example but this type of “taking stock” can work in any area of your life. I’ll stick with food and eating since that’s what I know best!

1. I need to take 20 min and eat a balanced lunch during the day.
2. When I’m swamped at work, it may require keeping a co-worker waiting. At home, it may require me taking a break from paying attention to my kids.
3. Hmm, I’m not sure if it’s worth it. If I stop and eat I may feel like I’m losing time but there is a chance that having brain fuel will actually allow me to be more productive at work and may also prevent the frenetic snacking that happens in the late afternoon. I’ll try it out once this week so I can better assess the pros and cons of taking more time for myself.
4. Yes, I think it would be reasonable for pretty much anyone to stop for 20 min during the day and eat.

Happy Holidays and cheers to more healthy selfishness in each of your lives.
 
**Note if you are reading this and currently suffering with an eating disorder, your capacity to sense your own needs may be a very difficult task. In fact, the very act of recovering from an eating disorder is learning of how to listen and effectively respond to your inner needs and requires the support and expertise of a treatment team. If you are a research nerd like me, you may be interested in checking out this article entitled “Body self: development, psychopathologies, and psychoanalytic significance.”