Society has a tendency to put those who are self-sacrificing on a pedestal. This can cause us to believe that it is a virtue to put others ahead of ourselves. While caring for others is admirable it should never be at the expense of our own emotional well being. When we are happy life flows seemlessly and we are much better equipped to deal with problems when they arise. Therefore, looking after our own well being is essential to our functioning in all aspects of our lives.
Your happiness does not come to you as a result of doing for others, rather because you have taken responsibility for it yourself. Life is precious and short. By life I mean your life, the only one for which you are responsible.* You should see it as a moral duty to take care of and nourish this precious and unique gift, that you have been given.
*Sometimes others will seek to lay responsibility for their unhappiness at your doorstep. They also must take responsibility for their happiness.
You need to be ‘selfish ‘ in order to take care of your mental health and emotional well being. At the end of the day if you are emotionally empty or unhappy you have nothing to give others anyway. So what are your responsibilities to your emotional well being :
– Look after your physical well being, with an appropriate exercise regeme. Do not engage in ‘long term suicide’ through eating the wrong food and be aware of any addictive or reckless behaviours you may have. Remember the ‘body is the temple of the soul’, so look after it
– Look after your mental well being by desisting from negative behaviours such as self criticism and overwork. Replace negative thought patterns with positive affirmations. Allow time for fun, rest and recreation.
– Set aside time every day for quiet reflection in order to connect to something bigger than yourself. This could be religion, god, nature, spirituality, your higher power, universal beauty/truth, the wonders of universal life etc. You decide what best gives you the feeling of connection and support.
But to be truly happy requires you to look deeper, to look into the mirror and face your demons. You need to be fearless in acknowledging all aspects of who you are, without judgement. Only by confronting your self destructive patterns can you truly embrace your essential goodness and experience sustainable happiness.
This focus on self is not an ego trip; the opposite in fact. It is about knowing, accepting and valuing who we are without the need for comparison with others.