Since I can remember, I was taught to be kind, to share with others, to always be polite and to make sure people felt always comfortable.
Was I ever asked how I felt?
Were my needs ever taken into consideration?
Was I ever able to speak if it was OK for me to be always so pleasing?
So I grew up thinking it was normal to be a people pleaser. To go above and beyond to make people feel good about themselves. To deny my needs. To put others first and myself simply... last.
Even though I am now learning how to give priorities to my own heart and how to listen to my well being and mental health, I truly feel that in today‘s world there is a huge confusion between selfishness and self love. And I do feel that we can struggle in achieving that perfect balance where, we can be there for ourselves, and at the same time being there for others, without guilt.
The following questions might pop in our head when we start being more aware of ourselves:
How can we set healthy boundaries?
How can we still give ourselves to the world and still give to ourselves without having our energy drained?
How can we learn to say no?
What is self love? What does it look like in practical terms?
Where does self love end and turn into selfishness?
How do we love ourselves?
If you are one of those people who are always giving themselves to the world with love and generosity, I would like to say that I see and that I love you. You are a giver and the world is in so much need of you. But even givers need to set boundaries and learn how to protect and respect their own energy.
First things first. What are boundaries? They are emotional, physical and energetic limits that we need to establish in order to protect our own identity but also to create healthy relationships with other people and the outside world as well as with ourselves. We set these boundaries. No one else. Very often we will know exactly when someone is pushing our buttons and making us uncomfortable. Or when we are allowing someone else’s wellbeing to be priority at our own expenses.
If we are used to people pleasing, we need to start taking a step back and start assessing when we feel triggered or being pushed over the edge. When we realise that we are becoming somewhat resentful for being of help. Never underestimate the teaching that dense emotions carry with them for us.
A way to recognise if we are being triggered, is to see if we feel resistance towards a person or a situation. Learning to listen to our body and its signals is extremely important. I wrote an article about this topic that you can find here.
As a general rule of thumb, any triggered feelings that doesn’t belong to highly energetic emotions like joy or love should ring a red bell. Maybe we are feeling tired. Maybe we have worked ourself out. Maybe we had taken arrangements with ourself of going home and chilling with your cat after work. How do we politely say no? How do we put yourself first? How do we set that boundary?
We can only give from a full cup. It’s called self love. The idea that life should be sacrifice and that altruism can only be shown through suffering and pain is obsolete. I truly believe self love is the key here. And yes, it might look selfish at times, but if it comes from a place of true honesty and self honour, well, we are doing the best we can. People might try and send us on a guilt trip. They might want to sabotage our idea of self love. Be very mindful of toxicity and selfishness masqueraded as unsolicited advise. Be also mindful of our own self sabotaging, we might feel guilty too, especially at the beginning of this new exciting journey.
Every emotions that rises in us, should always be acknowledged and lead us to a deeper digging. That's how healing happens. A constant, conscious work on ourselves.
People often mistake self love with selfishness. And in a way putting ourself first is an owed act of selfishness to ourself. Lett me put it this way: if we don’t know what we need and what makes our heart expand, how can we truly be there for others? Let alone be there for us?
We need to stop stigmatising self love as the cradle of selfishness. As we need to start setting boundaries as a way of shouting to the world that we are here and we value ourselves as much as we value others. But not at our own expenses. Selflessness doesn't mean wiping out our own identity and needs to meet someone else's. It means acknowledging that, in the unity of our identities, in the oneness of our coexistence, we truly understand that only when we truly love ourselves we can truly love someone else. When we know what it means to give in kindness, compassion, presence, tenderness, lack of judgement, support, comfort, we can give in the exact same to those who will need us in their life. And in the balance of self love and selflessness, we truly discover that giving, from a place of balance, is that feeling that reminds us of our divine connection with all.
Sending love and light to all beings,