Learning to say NO: The Importance of Healthy Selfishness
Posted by Yamarie Negron on June 22, 2010 at 3:49 PM
You Call It Selfish, I Call It Self-Love. For many of us, giving away our time, resources, and energy, comes so naturally that we often find ourselves giving when there is nothing left to give. Afraid of appearing selfish and inconsiderate, I, too, once found myself over-committing to obligations that drained me of my energy and attempting to give more than I had to offer.
If I had a dollar left to my name but knew you needed fifty cents, I’d do without because it was the noble, loving thing to do. Although my actions were motivated by a heart full of love and compassion, what I did not realize at the time was that the more I did for others, the less time and fewer resources I had to “do” for me. Each time I said “yes” to something or someone else, I was unconsciously saying no to one of my priorities.
Although there is much strength in The Power of Yes, there is much to be said about The Power of NO!!! Whether we realize it at the time or not, underestimating the power of NO can hinder you if you do not learn how to set boundaries. I’ve suffered from a few failed relationships and financial burdens as a result of my over-giving. It is important to recognize that what may at first appear as selfless giving can easily become a burdensome obligation. Overextending our generosity can often cause others to become overly dependent on us and feel entitled to our giving. As explained by Angela, author of The Curvy Life blog, “The inescapable consequence of over-giving to others is an under-giving to ourselves. This can lead to the neglect of the most basic aspects of self-care—sleep, proper nutrition, exercise—in the name of caring for others. And the end game of over-giving is that eventually you have nothing to give to anyone else either.”
At first, saying “no” can be extremely difficult, but like anything else, practice makes perfect. You may feel guilt or shame for making yourself the priority, or even get a few guilt trips from the ones you have so innocently enabled. Some may go as far as to call you SELFISH, but you know better now, and understand that what they see as selfish is actually you practicing SELF-LOVE.
According to Drs. Rachel and Richard Heller, “healthy selfishness” is an important ingredient to living a fulfilling life. It is a way of thinking and acting in which you display a deep appreciation and concern for yourself. This includes a willingness to respect your own feelings, desires, and needs as well as accepting your weaknesses and imperfections without feeling guilty. It means nurturing yourself and loving yourself unconditional without feeling the need to create excuses or apologize for your unavailability.
If you find yourself emotionally and physically exhausted from over-giving, it’s time to start saying NO! But as explained by Dr. Rachel and Richard Heller, putting yourself first is not a change that has to happen overnight. It’s your choice to move slowly or take life-changing leaps based on your comfort level and circumstance. It is best to tackle one problem area at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Regardless of what route you take, the ultimate goal is to free yourself from the overwhelming opinions and demands that restrict you from fulfilling your full potential.For more articles on self-help, dating, food, fitness or fun, please visit Hollypinafore.com