It's Ok To Be Selfish

Written by: Zenny Middleton, Integrative Health Coach (IIN), Practitioner (IHP), Nutrition Practitioner, Pilates Teacher, & Personal Trainer

Being ‘selfish’ is seen as something terrible and unappealing.

How many times when you were younger, was the word ‘selfish’ drilled into you as a negative word and unattractive trait?

With that thought process, it means that our lives are then centered around saying ‘yes’ to things that may not serve us, constantly people-pleasing and putting so much self-made pressure on ourselves to strive to be ‘perfect’.

Being selfish, to me, is in fact a very appealing trait (if approached in the right way). I’m not saying we should all of a sudden stop thinking of others and ONLY think of ourselves. We still have to be kind and considerate – but there’s a fine line between living for others and living for ourselves.

It’s so important to take time out for ourselves, not only to fill our own cups up (remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup) but also to rest and recuperate.

Stress is such a huge problem in today’s society and culture. Our bodies are designed to deal with stress, of course, but not the constant load that we experience today.

Millennia ago, we would experience stress in short bursts – a famine, running from a bear, or fighting against a neighboring tribe for example. That stress would appear, send hormonal signals throughout our bodies and our fight or flight response would be initiated. After the danger passed, those hormones would stop being produced and we would return to our rest and relax state.

Today, we are all stressed – I’ve still struggled to find one person that doesn’t have at least one thing they’re stressing about at any given moment.

This is what is known as CHRONIC STRESS and our bodies have to deal with those same hormones but for much longer – that’s what makes a toll on our bodies.

The constantly increased heart rate and blood pressure, weight gain, lack of sleep, and even increased anxiety and depression. All of it can be connected back to chronic stress and being out of that rest and relax zone that our bodies thrive so much from.

As a society, our health isn’t doing so great and most of the time when I work with clients, I can see how stress is such an important factor. So many common health complaints such as digestive issues, IBS, and even fatigue can be traced back to chronic high or low-grade stress levels.

So, How Do We Cope?

Well, as much as we are all used to taking pills from the doctor to cure every illness and ailment (yes, they do have a time and a place) when it comes to battling stress, being selfish can sometimes be the first step to recovery and rebalancing the body.

It’s all about making yourself a priority!

There Are Two States Within the Body Or Two Systems:

The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (or SNS and PNS). Think of the SNS as your fight or flight system and the PNS as your rest and relax system.

When that SNS system is switched on, we are in a state of stress. Like I said, being stressed isn’t something completely terrible that we should be scared of and shy away from. After all, our bodies ARE designed to deal with stress, just not in the large doses we are currently exposing ourselves to.

However, that PNS system, the rest and relax system, is our bodies preferred system as that’s when healing, digestion, and even detoxification can occur – put simply, when we are stressed, our bodies shut down or diminish processes that they may not need in times of fight or flight (such as digestion and sleep) so that our energy can be used elsewhere (like running away from that saber tooth tiger!).

That’s why making yourself a priority is so important.

That’s why being selfish sometimes, maybe the most unselfish thing you can do.

You can only take so much strain before the effects show on your body.

It’s all about perceived stress as we all experience stress differently. What stresses me out may not necessarily stress you out and vice versa. It’s about individuality and what initiates the stress responses in our own individual bodies. Stress to you may be:

  • Self-induced pressure
  • Pressure from others
  • The strive for perfectionism
  • Arguments and conflict
  • Work
  • Hobbies
  • Commitments
  • Getting the kids ready for school
  • Sickness
  • Family
  • Friends

There are so many aspects of life that may lead to stress but there is definitely one thing that we can ALL benefit from:

taking a time-out!

Taking the time to make yourself a priority and look after yourself is one thing we can all do to limit the stress that we take into our lives.

It may not always mean that the stress goes away, but sometimes it’s more about handling the stress in a healthier way than getting rid of it completely. If you want to be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself – not just for you but for your family and friends – then it’s time to start being a bit more selfish and put yourself first.

After all, you only get one body in this lifetime, so it’s time we started taking care of it more!

So How Can We All Start Making Ourselves A Priority?

Well, the easiest place to start is by taking some time out and practicing self-care! This is always easier said than done.

I’m so aware that whenever I suggest that to my clients, it’s received with panic, fear, and avoidance – common excuses are often thrown my way such as:

  • Lack of time
  • No childcare
  • Too much to do
  • It’s a waste of time
  • Etc.. (I’m sure you have your own limiting beliefs around self-care)

However, what you make time for will appear in your life and it’s all about prioritizing what’s important to you at any given moment.

If something is a priority, then you Will make time for it. If it’s not, then your excuses bucket will be filled to the brim. So ask yourself:

How Important Are You, To You?

If self-care is seen as too much of a burden and something unachievable or unrealistic, then I want you to change the words your using and start using the words GLOW-TIME instead.

The word ‘self’ is sometimes the one that puts people off from practicing self-care as we are all so conditioned to believe that it’s SELFish. Glow-time, however, is neutral – it’s specifically time we take to ourselves to fill our own cups up and feel better (aka – tapping into that PNS or rest and relax state).

How Can You Practice Glow-Time?

Again, this is totally up to you. For me that means:

  • Listening to a podcast
  • Taking a walk outside
  • Reading a book
  • Having a bath
  • Cleaning the house
  • Playing with the dogs outside
  • Drinking a mug of Ben’s hot chocolate
  • Cooking and experimenting in the kitchen

Some of those things might sound appealing to you and some may not.

It’s time to make your own list of things that turn you on, light you up, and leave you feeling absolutely fantastic!

Once you have that list, type, or write it up and place it somewhere around your living space where you can see it.

That way, it’s a constant reminder to you or what leaves you feeling rejuvenated and the importance of making yourself a priority and practicing glow time whenever you can.

It’s sometimes a great thing to schedule into your day so that you make sure it’s going to happen – that could even just be 5 minutes of meditation every morning.

There is no right or wrong way of making yourself a priority. So start prioritizing putting yourself first.

Start being a little less selfless and a bit more selfish.

You’ll be surprised at how less stressed, overwhelmed, and anxious you feel when you start looking after yourself a little bit more.


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