We’ve all heard the terms selfish and selfless, but did you know you don’t have to be one or the other? You can choose to become Self-Full instead. When someone is Self-Full, they learn to listen to their internal world and connect with themselves from a place of compassion and kindness. They have healthy self-esteem and a balanced energy system. In short, they’ve mastered the delicate process of giving and receiving.

This is no easy task to master — especially for women, whom society tends to indoctrinate to be givers and put others’ needs before their own. As women, we are naturally thought of as more empathetic. And let’s face it, whether or not we have children, we are more maternal in nature.

These are wonderful qualities to have, except when they override our own needs and drive the bulk of our behaviors. When this occurs, we can quickly become off balance in our bodies, lives, and relationships, and all the while resentment builds. This is what happens when we get stuck in a cycle of endless giving.

Maybe you don’t want to hear that this is a problem that must be fixed by changing your core belief system and doing a deep dive into your deepest fears. It understandably sounds like a daunting task — but this ingrained need to be selfless has to change. We have it backwards; to regain our balance (perhaps even for the first time) and live life to the fullest, we’ve got to get this piece right.

Now, I am by no means telling you to go out into the world and become a selfish a**hole! Selfish people lack empathy and constantly put their own needs before the needs of others. They are mostly out for personal gain and only thinking of themselves. The irony is, of course, that they tend to attract the selfless ones; it’s a classic scenario of opposites attracting.

What I’m suggesting is that you look at where you might be off-balance in your life and your relationships and find the middle ground or sweet spot between giving and receiving. This balance between the two is what being Self-Full is all about. Begin looking at filling yourself up as a priority, take care of your own inner needs, and begin giving from a place of Self-Fullness rather than a place of desperation and depletion.

Here are a few tools you can use to start conserving your energy more properly by making small shifts in behavior that make larger impacts in your life.

4 Self-Full Ways to Address Your Personal Energy System

1. Leave the situation when your energy feels drained. It’s okay to leave early! Start checking in with yourself more when you’re out with others. This might mean you have to take your own car to dinners, events, or other social gatherings. The last thing you want to do is stay until you’re so tired that your energy feels depleted; don’t force yourself to be in a situation where you feel stuck in depletion mode. Always allow yourself an “escape plan” for when you feel drained. Learning to take care of yourself this way is so important because most of us push through in depletion mode only to be running on empty the next day.

2. Learn when an argument is actually worth your time. Sometimes, it’s just not worth the fight. You know deep down when the person you’re arguing with isn’t going to change, or when you yourself aren’t willing to change, so choose your battles wisely. Otherwise, each argument becomes an energy zapper. It’s better and wiser to conserve your energy and time when you know it’s not going to change the situation. And let’s get real: Being right doesn’t feel all that great when you’re completely tapped out from an argument.

3. Don’t answer calls or texts when you really don’t feel like speaking. This is a big one, and I’ll readily admit it’s one I am actively working on. Running a business from my phone gives me the perfect excuse to be on it and responding to everything with a sense of unmatched urgency, but it’s extremely draining to “always be available” or feel like you have to be responsive to anything and everything, 24-7. Start setting limits around your phone and don’t pick up when you’re tired. Trust me, if someone really wants something from you, they will leave a message and you can always respond later.

4. Know when you’re overextending yourself and be honest about the reason why. A lot of people can pinpoint when they’re feeling overextended, but most people aren’t real with themselves as to the reason why. Take the time to sit with yourself when you feel overtired or overextended. Start to take note of people or situations that drain you too much. Our deep needs to people please tend to take over, or we want so badly to impress our friend, boss, or partner that we kick it into overdrive. When we go out of our way too much and overextend, it usually comes from a place of overcompensation rather than a place of fullness.

Check in with yourself on these things and practice them. I’m not saying you should never pick up your phone, or that you shouldn’t go out of your way for a loved one. We all have moments in life where we need and choose to show up for others. All I am asking you to do is start finding balance in your life and cut back on expending your precious energy where you need to. That also means thinking about what fills you up and taking care of that first.

Life, love, and relationships are all about learning how to deal with what’s going on inside first, then interacting with the world and the people in it from a healthy place. Freedom often comes when we change unhealthy behaviors and take healthy steps towards protecting our energy. Start there, and watch how your life can shift for the better.