With the pressure everyone is under today; working, commuting, financial responsibilities, and spending quality time with friends & family, it’s no wonder there isn’t much time or energy left for ourselves.

We are often giving to others, leaving us with little time, energy and the support required to enable us to focus on our own needs.

I know as a culture we find it hard to say No. We often end up feeling guilty because we are letting someone down or unable to help. Or we simply don’t have the courage to implement a boundary with a loved one, as we fear their reaction. So is it down to people making us feel guilty? Or is it more that we let them?

Either way, you are probably sacrificing your own needs.

I’ve heard clients being criticised for being selfish by saying No. Is it the way we’ve been bought up, society’s conditioning, or is it our own self commentary?

Be aware that peoples reactions often say more about them, than you.

Does being selfish mean that we are unable to put ourselves first? The dictionary defines selfish as ‘lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure’.

I believe we can prioritise ourselves, being selfish doesn’t mean we have to compromise being kind, thoughtful, empathic, loving, or compassionate.

Are we unable to give ourselves permission to prioritise ourselves, in fear of being selfish? Accepting our circumstances and the pressures we encounter, surely allows us to do what is right for our own wellbeing, in order to serve our own emotions, health and needs first, whilst enabling us to better serve others too.

Most of us, I like to hope, are decent human beings, we want to help and be there for our friends, family and colleagues. However, we are next to useless to anyone if we are tired, irritable, and feeling under the weather. We are not doing anyone any favours by not bringing and giving our best, and we may end up resenting others, or holding a grudge against those demanding our time and attention.

We often default to how other people are feeling and thinking; putting their needs before our own. Yet, if we’re feeling low on energy, on our last time reserves and feel like we are compromising our own needs, I recommend pausing for thought before immediately responding.

Give yourself permission to put yourself first, unapologetically.

Is it Selfish or Self Preservation?

If you’re juggling, squeezing, and feeling pressure from the scenario, is it time for a graceful ‘No, I’m unable to on this occasion’.

Self preservation keeps you well, safe, and healthy so you can give from a nurtured, nourished and rested place. You can think of it more as a gift than an obligation too.

What moment or event has to happen in your life before realising it’s too late, and you’ve hit that place of extreme fatigue?

We are always told in an aircraft safety demonstration to put on our own oxygen mask first, and for good reason.

We can’t help anyone without helping ourselves first. Yet we all try.

Let’s all try embodying some acceptance, permission, understanding, tolerance and action, then maybe we can relax a little and enjoy living life a lot more, rather than existing in it.

Look after yourself; it’s self preservation – not selfishness.

Originally published at medium.com