Why is choosing for yourself so difficult?


Why do we know that it can be done differently, but we still can’t? What makes choosing for yourself so difficult? Inger Strietman, author of the recently published May My Attention , shows which obstacles keep us from ‘healthy selfishness’ and how we can overcome them in 4 steps. “If you don’t choose for yourself, who will?”

We were raised with the message that you are a good person if you are kind to your environment. It is therefore not surprising that we are constantly inclined to give a lot.

Continue as we always do

You actually know. You should make time for yourself more often. Better guard your boundaries. Have to say no more often. But yeah, it just doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work. You feel uneasy about it, you really don’t have time for it or you wouldn’t know how. And so we go on as we always do. We stay tired. And we look forward to another day of worrying or working. What is that? Why do we know that it can be done differently, but we still can’t? What makes choosing for yourself so difficult?

Education: being kind to others

The answer is very simple. We were brought up from an early age with the message that you are a good person if you do your best. If you get high grades in school. If you are thoughtful and humble. If you persevere, even if you really can’t anymore. If you are subservient and behave properly. And above all: if you are kind to the people around you. It is therefore not surprising that we are constantly inclined to give a lot. To pay attention to others. We are no different!

Fear of being ‘different’

So it takes quite a bit of effort to adjust this behavior. To convince yourself that it is really important to make space and time for yourself. That you can start from your own feelings and pay attention to yourself, regardless of what your environment thinks about this. What underlies it is fear. Actually we are afraid. Afraid of being ‘different’. To fall outside the group. Fear of being judged. To be found selfish. To be left alone. We want to choose for ourselves more often, but we don’t dare. Because we have never done it this way and we cannot foresee the consequences.

Relationship With A Narcissistic Partner

More attention to yourself in 4 steps

All the new steps you take in your life are exciting. After all, you are exploring unknown territory. This can give energy, but it can also have an inhibitory effect. ‘Am I doing the right thing with this?’ “Do I really need this?” The good news is: Spending more time and attention on yourself will pay off a lot. With the following steps you can experience this for yourself!

  1. Accept your fear

The most important thing is: understand and accept from yourself that you find it exciting to choose for yourself. And that this is totally okay. Everything new makes us sweat a little. We think of reasons why we shouldn’t do it. That goes for all of us! Don’t let that stop you from taking this step. Movement is growth. Every step you take toward healthy selfishness is one. So do you feel fear and know what you are doing it for: for your life, your body, your energy… There is only one person who can take good care of that. You don’t need a better reason, do you?

  1. Question your thoughts

It helps to write down what’s holding you back. Suppose you’re afraid of being seen as selfish by those around you – write this down. Then ask yourself: is this really so? Is this fear 100 percent real? Will people around me really label me as an egoist if I choose myself more often?

Fear often makes small things very big. And also black and white. As if you become a completely different person when you say ‘no’ more often and want to create more time for yourself. Fortunately this is nonsense. Between complete selflessness on the one hand and selfishness on the other, there is an enormous amount of space. It is up to you to explore this space. To feel what it’s like to move an inch to the other side. And then again. And then once a meter.

Searching for which space feels most comfortable for you, without ever becoming an egoist. Because you really won’t be able to do that if you’re put together like you.

  1. Empower yourself (with affirmations)

Then write one or more sentences that empower you to choose for yourself. Below are some examples. Feel free to think of one that suits you (even better):

It is my responsibility to take good care of myself. I give myself what I need. I take the time I needI am good enough as I am. I am free to make my own choices. I have confidence in myself. I love myself and my health.

You can go one step further by naming the benefits of ‘healthy selfishness’‘. What will it gain you to spend more time and attention on yourself? What kind of feelings will it evoke? What might others experience as a positive effect on you?

  1. Experiment

Whatever you do, start small. See what you can do tonight. Tomorrow morning. Move that one appointment you don’t feel like. Take to the streets in your old clothes and without make-up if that feels good. Laze more. Organize a day in the week that you can sleep in. Do nothing at all for once. Follow that online tutorial on what seems so interesting to you. Get a massage. Finally read that book. Sit on the couch with your favorite music or movie. Go write. Paint. Draw. photographing.

Just think about it. Everything is good. If you’re only 100 percent into it! It’s about you. Everything you have to do, you do that often enough. It’s time for you now. For relaxation, for fun, for inspiration. Whatever it is that you most need right now. Choose for yourself. Enjoy it. And if you like it, do it again. And again. And again. Until it wears into a new pattern, because you feel it is right. Because it does you good. In this way, choosing can become a permanent part of your life and that is extremely valuable. Because if you don’t choose for yourself, who should?


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