Self-nurture vs selfish

by Michelle Powell

Something that I have heard from pretty much every woman I have coached over the years and most males too for that matter, is that they feel they cannot give time, energy, love, money or anything else to themselves because it is SELFISH.

Now I beg to differ! We have been brought up in a modern world where it is ok to put everyone else’s needs before our own and the true meaning of what being selfish is, has become lost along the way.

My viewpoint is very different and I have learned this lesson the hard way. Self-nurture isn’t just an important thing to do, in fact it is essential for your health, your romantic relationship, your family, your work and much more. You have probably heard the saying “you cannot give what you do not have”. This ties in beautifully with the idea of nurturing yourself as being selfish. I honestly believe that it is selfish to NOT look after your own needs. When your own individual needs and requirements are not being met, then you are not fully present with anyone else in your life. You cannot think, move, or be at your best because the resources are just not there. This is usually the explanation as to why someone cannot give to themselves, because they have too many other people, responsibilities and other demands on them to take care of instead.

Let me explain it differently using this scenario. I offer you a drink of water from my water bottle after you have been hard at work in the sun for hours. You very gratefully put the bottle to your lips and wait for cooling water to rejuvenate your body, only to discover the water bottle is empty! How do you feel? You might feel annoyed or you might even be angry. Why would I offer something that I don’t even have? Why would I offer something if I cannot even give it to myself? In simple terms, if I cannot look after my own needs how can I honestly and genuinely give it to other people around me?

Most parents, hard workers, business owners and many other people run themselves into the ground believing that they cannot, or worst of all, SHOULD NOT look after their needs because there is too much to do. As an example, I spend my time helping all of my clients physically, nutritionally, mentally, emotionally and a lot more, but if I wasn’t looking after my own needs, how could I possibly be able to help the next person who walked through my door? Many people have told me to “make sure that you learn how to let go”. In my case however, it isn’t about letting go, because my client’s lives are theirs, not mine. What I need to do is to focus on myself and what I personally need to be whole, healthy and fully present when I am with you.

I personally do this in many ways. When I get up first thing in the morning I spend a few minutes outside, it might only be 5-10 minutes to get the fresh morning air on my skin and to breathe, maybe do a few zone exercises or some tai chi. This lets my body wake and connect with the earth, allowing me to become ready for my day. In general I add a lot of energy work to my weekly routines, it might be tai chi, qi gong, moving meditations, yoga or anything else around my other training or movement passions. Then I ensure that I have some alone time each week, to be in only my own company. This might only be for a few hours but it is very beneficial.

My ‘horse time’ is very important because horses make me happy, they are my passion, besides health and the fascination I have with the human body. When I am around horses I lose track of time and I am completely in the moment and truly happy. This is a priority to me and likewise with my hobby of hiking, being in nature restores my system, so I do it often. So too does ensuring I have quality time with my partner. He is my favourite person on the planet and to me spending time together is important.

All these things and more fill my cup, that way I can truly be present, truly give my time, energy, expertise and attention to each person I see. So to me self-nurture is as important as drinking water, eating organic food and getting quality sleep. When I have to, I book all of these things in my diary, like an appointment.

You wouldn’t miss an appointment you booked in, so why not ensure that you don’t miss your appointment with yourself? What fills your cup up? It might be simple things like taking some time out to go for a walk on the beach, or sitting down and reading a book you have been wanting to read, or maybe it’s catching up with an old friend? Whatever it is I challenge you to find and prioritise some time for yourself, not anyone else, YOU! Kick the thought that “self-nurture equals selfishness” in the pants today!

You deserve your time, love and respect just as much as anyone else. The old saying goes “Your ‘yes’ has no value until you learn to say ‘no’”. If you are always saying yes, nobody will respect you or your needs because you don’t respect your own. Saying no creates healthy boundaries for yourself, your work and your life. Remember you cannot give what you do not have, so please take the time to care for you, because everyone in your life, including yourself will thank you for it.

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