There are a few harsh truths I’m going to lay down here.
First — there is nobody inside of your head, heart, or soul but YOU. You are it, nobody else is in there — even if you grant them access to you — they can’t get in there with you.
Second — you get one shot at this life in that body. This time, where you are alive and experiencing your life from the meat popsicle of your body, is all you get for this lifetime.
Third — change is the only constant in the Universe. Change always happens — sometimes incomprehensibly slowly and other times too fast for us to readily adapt. But it’s not something you can stop, prevent, or avoid.
Fourth — you cannot please everyone. No matter what you choose to do in this life — someone will disapprove, be disappointed, or otherwise rain on your parade. This can be subtle or painfully blunt. But you will never win the approval of everyone with anything you do.
Fifth — it is not selfish to practice self-care. No, I’m not talking about massages and facials or eating the largest ice cream sundae imaginable. I mean self-care, as in taking care of your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health and welfare.
The reason I am laying the truths out like this is simple. When all is said and done, the only person you can do right by, ultimately, is you.
And it is in no way selfish for you to choose yourself.
What selfish is and isn’t
The elephant in the room, of course, is selfishness.
Every day, we’re inundated by images and stories about the selfish, awful, unkind things people are doing. Denial of rights, hoarding money, not wearing masks in public indoor spaces, and the like. It almost feels like everywhere you turn there’s an example of selfishness.
If like me, you strive to be a good, kind, compassionate, empathetic person — the last thing you desire to do is anything that might be selfish.
Yet many of the things we deem as selfish aren’t. But to lessen the potential of misperception, we still consider them selfish and either avoid them or give to the point of sacrifice of ourselves.
What IS selfish? Selfish is taking without any thought of anyone else. It is knowingly causing hurt and harm in your own self-interest. Selfish is intentional. It’s being unkind, uncaring, unempathetic towards any other person for your own needs and desires.
Examples include taking two or three slices of pie when there’s only enough for one slice per person, not wearing a mask just because you think it’s your right to do so, taking something someone else needs just to keep them from it, and so on. Any intentional act that betters or serves only you at the expense of others is selfish.
What’s not selfish? Saying no to helping a friend move because you’re in pain. Turning off your phone and taking time for your mental health. Ending a toxic relationship even if it doesn’t look toxic to anyone else. Any pain or hurt this causes is unintentional and outside of your control.
Just like nobody is in your head, heart, and soul but you — you’re not in that of anyone else.
What you do for yourself is not — unless intentional — selfish.
Whose life is it anyway?
I know that many of you are parents, a caretaker for an elderly relative, or otherwise closely tied to another for your life choices. Even still — I want to argue that your life should not be lived in misery.
Nobody is happy all the time. Nobody. Everyone has good days and bad, is a victim of circumstance, and faces challenges and unwanted situations from time to time. Welcome to the human experience.
However — you choose, ultimately, what your life is. Even when you have tied it to another — you still get to choose for yourself.
Know that that choice is going to cause upset. People who care about you may see you choosing yourself and your life as selfish. But the truth is that it’s your life. Ergo, your choice.
Some people choose to have a life where they give vast amounts of it to others. Parents can’t just leave kids unattended before they have a certain degree of self-awareness and independence. This can also apply to others we might care for. And yes, for some the obligation outweighs the choices they might desire to make for themselves.
But that is, when all is said and done, a choice, too.
Apart from the above and like matters — your life is yours to choose. How you live, what you do, how, why, and when are all on you. And some of the choices you make will not please others.
Nothing to be done about that. You can’t please everyone — and that’s okay. You are worthy and deserving of choosing what you do for you.
I know I am not who and what my mom, for example, would have liked me to be. But I am who I desire to be — and stand by that.
Many things impact what you do for you
While I am largely content with my life — there is plenty of room to grow, change, and evolve, too.
Hence why I am constantly studying mindfulness, conscious reality creation, self-help, inspirational nonfiction, etc. I desire to better connect within my self — and share that with you to help you do the same.
I desire to be as in control of my life experience as possible. Ergo, I strive to take action to work with change in various ways.
I have, over the past few years, made choices that have caused head-scratching among some friends and family. I have been unquestionably fortunate to have the ability to make these choices and take some interesting actions as such. That’s why I am writing full-time and focusing on what I love to do.
This has made me, overall, happier in general with my life experience. When what I do is what I do for me I feel centered, content, and in control.
The same is likely to apply to what you do for yourself.
Please note — I am not living in a vacuum. Doing what I do for me also accounts for my marriage. We are a partnership — so I make choices regarding what I do for me that my spouse is fully aware of and in agreement with. Likewise, I encourage her to do what she must do for her, too.
When I choose to do for another — be it my wife, a friend, family, or someone else — I am still doing what I do for myself. That’s because being genuine and true to myself isn’t just about me — it impacts all around me.
Do what you do for you
Embrace your authenticity. In the words of Paulo Coelho,
“If you want to be successful, you must respect one rule: NEVER LIE TO YOURSELF”
Unless you know your intent is selfish — what you do for you is good for you. Being in control and working on thriving in this life — rather than just surviving — is your right.
You are worthy and deserving of living life as fully as possible, having incredible experiences, and self-care.
I know this can be challenging — but I also, ultimately, believe that it’s worthwhile. Because you get one shot at living this life. So why not make it the best that you can?
Do what you do for you. So long as you do no harm — you do you.