Being selfless is considered the gold star of morality and character. I know I have put people on a pedestal who I have regarded as selfless, and I have viewed their actions as being the ultimate gold standard of conduct that I strive to achieve. Historically, we have always praised people for being selfless. How many of us have admired so and so for their actions of putting their needs aside and doing everything for everyone else. The definition of selfless means to be concerned more with the wishes of others than one’s own. Upon full reflection and contemplation, does that really sound like behavior we want to emulate and a way of being that we should strive to achieve? Should we care about others more than we care about ourselves? If you ask best selling author Glennon Doyle, she will tell you that “the world does not need more selfless people, but rather the world needs more people who are full of themselves”. What she means by that statement is that everyone needs to value and respect themselves at least as much as they value and respect others. In her brilliant book, Untamed, Glennon describes in detail the problem that women face when they ignore or completely lose themselves (their authentic selves) to become the women that their culture, society, and others expect them to be. She takes readers on her personal journey of living her life where she was selfless for others, and she ultimately lost sight of her true self completely. Her book chronicles her pain, unhappiness, and the mental illnesses that she developed as a result of her attempt at pleasing others and not herself. We must question if selfless people are really happy if it requires them to always place other people’s needs before their own. Personally, I can think of very few people who will say that their internal happiness has been derived solely from being selfless. Mother Theresa is the only person that immediately comes to my mind, and she was a saint. I believe people can be content by doing some selfless acts, but always being selfless, will never bring true peace, happiness, and internal fulfillment. I would like to suggest another approach that is necessary for internal happiness, and that is self-care. C My definition of self-care is that it a holistic approach to taking care of our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being and self. Cheryl Richardson is one of the pioneers on the art of self-care and has written several books on the subject, promoting all the benefits. She claims that self-care is “not selfish, but instead is necessary if we are to continue to help others”. Traditionally, we may have considered focusing on oneself as being luxurious and indulgent, but spiritual gurus like Cheryl will argue that self-care is a necessity and crucial to our well-being. We must care for ourselves before we are capable of caring for our immediate families, communities, and others. What are some basic self-care tips that we can incorporate into our daily lives? I am suggesting that our first step is to remind ourselves daily to treat ourselves with the same love and respect that we show to the most important people in our life. We need to focus on everyday habits that we value as being good for us and not just mandates from our doctor. Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, taking time for exercise, scheduling and attending medical appointments, and anything else necessary for our daily healthy life that becomes a habit and something we will stick with. For deeper emotional and mental health well-being, we must give ourselves permission to do things that make us feel good. Perhaps binge watching our favorite television show, taking time for a walk outdoors and in nature, reading a chapter of our favorite book, or having a hot bubble bath. The goal is to tell ourselves that our well-bring is worth investing time in and that time for ourselves is non-negotiable. The final step is to set goals. Visualize how we would like our life to be one year from now, five years on, and even ten years into the future. It is not self-indulgent to allow ourselves to dream and then to write down those goals for ourselves, so we become committed to attaining them. Remember, we do not need any external approval or permission from anyone to record our intentions. Have you always wanted to take a course or learn something new, travel to or immerse yourself in a different country or culture, learn a new hobby, activity, or just try something new? The sky is the limit to what you visualize for yourself. The goal of self-care is to cultivate your internal happiness and well-being so that you feel whole and good about yourself. Our well-being should never be compromised by supporting others at the expense of ignoring ourselves. It is only when we love, respect, and take care and nurture our true and authentic selves through self-care, that we can then be selfless for others.


Submitted: August 04, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Denise Svajlenko. All rights reserved.

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LE. Berry

Very much a part of spiritual truth Denise. Well expressed.

Fri, August 6th, 2021 7:09pm

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Thanks so much

Fri, August 6th, 2021 12:22pm

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