If you naturally sympathize with others and always try your best to do it right, more “healthy selfishness” is just what is needed. It’s not just about relaxing more often or more me-time. It is also about choosing what you really want in life.
Healthy selfishness means that you care about others and yourself at the same time. And that you consciously make choosing for yourself a priority.
Create space for yourself
Today we hear almost daily that it is so important that we are there for each other. That we pay attention to each other. That we change our behavior in the interest of others and the general health. After all, we have to do it together. So how can you start talking about ‘healthy selfishness’? Shouldn’t we all be a little less selfish?
Yes and no. As a society, we do indeed need each other, perhaps more than ever. But this does not demand the same of every individual. For people who naturally sympathize with others and always try their best to get it right, more healthy selfishness is just what is needed. Right now. To stay in balance. To create space for yourself and for what you like to do. To charge.
Be sensitive and please
As philosopher Alain de Botton so aptly said in an interview: ‘We think everyone is way too preoccupied with themselves, but there is an army of good boys and girls who spend their whole lives pleasing. Their parents, the teacher, their lover, and the children. They have the opposite problem: they are too selfless.’
Healthy egoism is therefore of great importance for people who are sensitive. They sense what is needed and are therefore inclined to please. They often choose harmony over self-interest and because of this it is difficult to get to themselves and what they want in life. This now means an extra-large split. Because we have to do everything, take care of the people around us, and have a hard time with ourselves when we are at home with others. If you are sensitive, you need yourself extra during this time.
Awareness: the first step to change
You are the core of your life. Your own beacon. It is therefore your responsibility to take good care of yourself. To choose what you need. For what you want. This is often not easy in practice. Your daily environment influences you enormously: your loved ones, your friends, children, family, your employer, and colleagues. Each of them has their own needs and desires and expectations of you. The more time you spend on them, on your achievements, on being caring, social or considerate, the less is left for yourself.
It is important that you take this seriously and experience deep down that this is not what you want. This awareness is necessary to change something. To make choices that are right for you. This not only makes you happy but often also those around you. It is of no use to anyone if you are grumpy walking around the house or if you have a short fuse. Or maybe you fall over because you got too far from yourself.
Your life will shine
Healthy selfishness means you care about others and yourself at the same time. And that you consciously make choices for yourself a priority. Because living from who you are and what you need is the reason you are here on Earth. You feel this too. You get energy from certain activities. For example, you would love to start that course, read that book, take a long bike ride, play music, or paint.
With more healthy selfishness in your life, you honor who you are deep down. And give substance to your unique path in this life. This provides so much more than just some extra energy. By living from the connection with yourself, your life gets to shine. You feel better in balance and powerful from within 100% yourself. Life doesn’t get any better.
The connection with yourself ultimately also yields a lot in contact with the people around you. By consciously choosing from your core who and what is good for you, you will automatically be able and willing to make contact with the core of that other person – and also bring more joy and energy to this. Thus, healthy selfishness deepens your friendships and brings more joy and satisfaction to your relationships. So a real win-win.
A step-by-step plan for healthy selfishness
With these steps, you can start creating more healthy selfishness in your life today.
Pay attention to yourself
To know what you really need at the moment, it is important to check in with yourself a few times a day. You can do this by means of a short attention exercise. Give yourself time and space for this. Do this exercise for 5 minutes a few times a day. In this way, you make conscious contact with yourself again and again.
Sit quietly, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths in and out. Lower your shoulders more and more. Then breathe slowly at your own pace. Stay with your attention on your breathing; breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Feel your breath make your chest or abdomen expand and lower again and again.
After this exercise, ask yourself the following questions:
How am I doing? What do I feel? What would do me good right now? What do I need? What can I do now to meet this need?
Make a relaxed list
We often know very well what we prefer to do. What it is that really relaxes you. What inspires you. Or with which you can treat yourself. A warm bath, reading that beautiful book, taking a nice walk, listening to music, or maybe just doing nothing.
Yet we often barely get to it. How come? We simply don’t give it enough priority. Simply put, we are not on our own agenda. And when we have a moment off, we often let ourselves be tempted by things that actually have to be done. So time to change this.
To make your favorite activities more important, it is important that you make them visible. At first by simply write them down below each other. What do you good? What do you really just do because you find it so wonderful and/or relaxing? What makes you happy? Only write down what you already feel like when you think about it.
Then place this list in a visible place. Put it on your desk. Hang it on the fridge or on your laptop. Make sure you see this list daily. This way you make your favorite list top of mind and you will also make room for it more easily. Try to make room for one of these activities every day.
Unpack what’s inside you
Healthy selfishness is not just about relaxing more often or more me-time. It is also about choosing what you really want in life. A dot on the horizon where you want to go in your personal and working life. That means taking seriously what you secretly dream of – and actually getting to work on it.
Most of us are nowhere near reaching our full potential. And that is such a shame! There is much more inside you than you think. And there is also so much more possible. Becoming aware of this is an important first step. Dare to believe in yourself and in what you can do. Dare to live your potential.
Then it is time for action.
Write down what you really want
What you would find super cool. Often it is exactly what you don’t dare to do. Below that, take the first steps you could take in this direction. And I mean super-simple steps. For example, think of a cup of coffee (or Zoom meeting) with someone who may know more about this. This could be someone you already know. Otherwise, feel free to ask a stranger if he or she would like to help you on your way.
People often enjoy talking about their experiences. It is also very important to clarify what your dot on the horizon needs: time, money, diplomas, network, experience… Share your ambition with people in your area with whom you feel comfortable. This way they can think along with you. This not only gives very positive energy, it often also proves fruitful.
Take the first step today! And the next this week. Put your step-by-step plan on your agenda and don’t let go of your dot on the horizon. In the Inspirational Life Agenda, there is enough space to write down your steps. It’s time for you. Unpack what’s inside you.