I believe that putting effort and energy into your own wellbeing is the most self-less thing you can do. No this does not mean eating all the cup-cakes at a little kids party is going to make the world a better place. It means putting energy into being a positive and functional human being will create a profound ripple effect in the lives of those around you. Studies has proven that we are all connected on a quantum (vibration) level, like individual droplets in a big sea of energy. Consequently your every action and thought directly effects the entire system, right from those closest to you to someone on the furthest side of the world.
Sticking with the ocean metaphor for a moment, let’s think of society as a big row boat where everyone has been given an oar. Yes, some are lucky to be born with superior ‘oars’ than others, but what really determines how we all move forward is how you use that oar. If you individually work to your full potential and perform your rowing with strength and ability then eventually effortlessness transcends effort and you are a powerful influence in helping others along. But this cannot be achieved until you’ve first mastered your own skills.
How many burnt out parents have you met that ‘live for their children’ yet have lost their credibility as role models by sacrificing their own needs?Similarly, you can never be a great teacher or mentor until you have built your own knowledge. You can quixotically dream all you like about donating thousands to charity but you need to be in a stable personal financial position to actually follow-through. As a Yoga teacher, I’ve put so much time and energy into my own practice so when I teach I can give 100% of my attention and energy solely to the needs of my students.
As un-Yogic as this may sound, you must put yourself first to ultimately be of better service to others If you are not looking after your well-being then whose responsibility does it become then?
Here are my top 5 tips for being selfishlessly selfless…
1. Eating, sleeping and exercise are basic human rights. If you find yourself sacrificing any of these for someone else you will instinctually begin to resent them. Constantly having 2am D&Ms with your partner? Eating crap food because it makes your friend more comfortable? Skipping out on your daily walk because your kid doesn’t want you to leave? Don’t do it! Sticking to your guns on these important rights will ultimately help others also see the importance of them in their own lives. Then the positive energy you create through respecting yourself will allow you to help them in much more constructive ways.
2. Have it out with your journal before you have it out with your friend or partner. It’s amazing how much I can process my thoughts when I take a moment to write in my journal. I can go from an emotional, illogical, hormonal wreck to a zenned out love-child of Eckart Tolle and Oprah. (I do feel sorry for my diary though! God not her again!) Remember NO ONE is qualified or deserves to be your personal diary. Strengthen your own tolerance and understanding by working through your thoughts on your own and THEN if you really need help ask the appropriate person in a measured, effective and reasonable way.
3. Don’t be a sellout. Personally fairy lights, cups of tea and Liam Neeson movie marathons make me super happy on any given Saturday night. Club lines, ‘nts nts’ music and copious amounts of eye-liner just makes me uncomfortable. But I know plenty of people who wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Whatever it is that makes you happy, stick to it! No one is going to do YOU better than you and you’ll only reach your full potential by doing what nourishes your soul.
4. Find people who know and love the REAL you. This can be a hard one, but you’ll only get there by a) first being selfish b) and then following the above point; doing what you love. When people know and respect you just as you are, being ‘selfish’ becomes less of an issue as you are normally doing something they totally understand and support anyway. In return they will get the most genuine version of you as their friend.
5. Love yourself as much as you want to be loved. Be careful that you’re not seeking a partner because you only feel at 50% of your potential and need someone else to make up your other half. The greatest relationships are made up of two people working at 100% who compliment each other and excel together. Instead of putting energy into seeking someone to ‘save’ you, put that energy into loving yourself. The concept of being ‘saved’ automatically assumes inability and inferiority, which is never a good basis for a healthy relationship. Learning to become friends with yourself will eradicate the obsession with NEEDING a partner, so instead when and if you do meet the right person they will add and enhance to your life in a positive way. (Rather than become the human equivalent of ice-cream in front of the TV. )
In a world where we have therapists for everything from our apartments’ feng shui to our relationships, it’s time to take charge and learn how to become our own therapists and take the pressure off everyone else. Being selfless is certainly noble and well motivated but not when being someone else’ s anchor means you end up drowning yourself. So hey, get a little crazy and ask yourself that forbidden question… “What is it that’s really going to make ME happy?” You might just find that everyone is pleased with the answer. And if that doesn’t work for you, fairy lights and Liam Neeson are a good start.