Do you find it hard to put yourself first? Then, at midlife, it’s time to discover the joy of being selfish. Putting the needs of everyone around us before our own leaves us with little time or energy for self-care, and to figure out who we truly are and what we really want. Unfortunately, many of us feel guilty about that making everything even more difficult.
Now a book written by Michelle Elman, five-board accredited life coach, activist, helps us redefine the idea of selfishness allowing us to love ourselves and those around us authentically and without apology.
“As a society, we often care too much what other people think. This is especially true when it comes to women – we are taught to put others first in order to be a good wife/mother/daughter, therefore, putting ourselves first can feel counter-intuitive and selfish,” explains her in the book The Joy Of Being Selfish, which explores the different types of boundaries, offers tips on how to begin setting them and helps with the guilt often felt after boundaries are put in place.
For Michelle, selfishness is not a dirty word and can be a positive act for our well-being. If you’ve finally decided to make yourself a priority, here are some ways for you to claim your sacred space and let others know when they’ve crossed “the line”.
- Set your boundaries firmly, calmly, compassionately and as concisely as possible – writes Michelle-. In order to be able to do this, you might have to process your emotions separately before having a difficult conversation. There is no rush to have one, there is no time limit on when you need to set boundaries and you can return to a previous conversation when you can have it in a productive and emotionally neutral way.
- if your boundaries continue to be crossed, set a consequence along the lines of: ‘If you continue to speak to me that way, I will leave the room and you can come to find me when you can speak to me in a respectful way’, and then follow through.
- If someone is being passive-aggressive or outright saying hurtful things in a conversation, a simple technique is just to exclaim “wow” or “ouch” — it pauses the discussion and lets that person reflect on what they’ve just said without turning it into a big confrontation.
- Silence is another useful tool: You don’t have to participate in a conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable. “People do notice“, Elman said. If they don’t and insist on engaging you in an uncomfortable topic, she suggested saying, “Can we change the conversation to something more interesting?”
Above all, being selfish in a healthy way means people stop taking you for granted. It also often means ending toxic relationships in your personal and professional life.
As soon as you start setting boundaries and build that self-esteem, you realize that a lot of people in your life don’t treat you the way you deserve- Elman said-. Having come through that journey myself and lost a lot of friends, as a result, is that I don’t regret it for a single second because any relationship that was lost due to boundaries, these are relationships that should have gone anyway.
Not convinced, yet? Just remember: if you can’t take care of yourself, then you can’t care for others. Being selfish is critical.