If you’ve been on a path of self or personal growth, you might wonder if it’s selfish. You’re taking more time for yourself. You’re prioritizing your well-being. You’re thinking about yourself and how you relate to others and the world around you more. Is it selfish? Today, let’s dig into some of the risks and rewards of self-development.
I remember when I first began really looking into self-development, I made a list of priorities. Guess who I moved to the top. Myself. I shared this list with my husband and he was like, “hmmm??” It got me thinking about this idea of whether or not this was selfish. There are so many reasons to think that it’s not selfish. We all know the instructions on the airplane to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. There are also many reasons to see why it would be selfish. The question isn’t really one that’s about whether or not self-development is inherently good or bad or selfish or unselfish, it about where it intersects with other people’s lives in helpful or unhelpful ways.
I want you to think about a relationship that’s really important to you. If you suddenly spent time away from this relationship to focus on yourself, does it suddenly make you less of a contributor to that relationship? What would it mean if you weren’t there as much? These are the real questions I had when I began to spend more time on me. You can imagine any activity including exercise, meditation, reading, talking to someone else – they all count. It’s not as black and white as a specific activity, is it? What matters more is how you engage with your real life including the people who currently need or want to spend time with you.
Having real conversations about what’s important to you and them is what matters the most. When was the last time you sat down and talked to someone about what matters to you? What about talking to them about what matters the most to them? It’s not that easy to find the space, time and desire to have these kinds of conversations. Yet, they are the ones that we will remember the most. The other day my daughter was home with me on the weekend and as I was about to put on a streaming workout on my computer she said to me, “mom, you’re on the computer during the week. Can’t you not be on the computer on the weekend and just spend time with us?” That was a real conversation and it was spot on because even though it wasn’t that doing a workout was wrong, it was the idea that someone is expressing to you what’s important to them. I said, “You’re right. Want to go for a big walk with me instead?” She loved that idea and we ended up spending a lot of time outdoors and the day took a different turn! It was such a refreshing experience and I know that a lot of it was due to responding to the needs of the moment.
Self development isn’t selfish, but there are ways to create these helpful experiences for yourself that still allow those around you to get what they need. Maybe you do need a little extra time or help to work out or maybe you’re eating differently and the people around you aren’t getting the same time or attention. That is ok. What’s not ok is you not understanding or trying to work towards understanding how you can still take care of yourself while also taking care of what’s important.
Let the pendulum swing a little towards you and then back towards others. A give and take without a measurement, but with a lot of heart for whatever you are doing at that time. I’ve had to shift my structure and schedules from year to year, month to month and sometimes day to day to support myself and those around me. I know it’s not easy for others when I leave for a trip or when I’m not home but I can also assess when it becomes too much and when it’s just the natural tension from any kind of change.
For those that have listened to one of the early episodes on co-dependency, this is a minefield for those who are trying to break free from co-dependent patterns. It’s difficult when you want to please others so much to actually do something that you know may cause tension. This is when we have to be smart and skillful, not just forceful in asking for what we need in order to live our lives more fully. This includes having skillful conversations, reacting to potential negative remarks, and staying engaged with those who are around us so that we use these as opportunities to move closer towards each other and ourselves.
Just because it’s hard, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Each step we take towards defining what we want and making it known is progress. Each step we take in cultivating a more loving and thoughtful response to others is also progress. Self-development is at the end of the day, a personal journey. One where you are no better than someone else because you decided to do this. As we take this journey towards realizing goals, becoming more patient or calm, developing ourselves and others – we also must understand that it’s our own journey. It’s a path we want to take, not because it’s better – but because we want to explore it. Others have their own paths, their own desires for their lives that are just as meaningful and rich – even if they are not yours.
When we can honor each other’s experiences and what we individually find as “the point” of our lives, we’re able to then see that it’s all different yet all the same.
If you want to join in on the fun of cultivating a mental reboot, we’re going to be re-training our brains during my Mindful Heart Bootcamp on 1/24. Learn mindfulness techniques and strategies to train your brain for optimal success, resilience as well as to manifest your desires. I can’t wait to spend the afternoon with you! You can check it out at https://mayempson.com/mindfulheart.
I love you my friends and thanks for joining me this week. If you’re wondering how to start shaping your life to be more fully present, engaged and creatively – go to https://mayempson.com/yourbestyear to learn more about creating a virtual planning retreat using Your Best Year, the 2021 visioning retreat.