The importance of being selfish

importance of being selfish mental health blogger UK

I’ve been considering writing a post which is a bit more personal for a while, but I wasn’t sure what to talk about. As a health and fitness blogger I assume that everyone is vaguely interested in my food pictures and workout schedule, but who is really bothered about my personal life, or my thoughts in general?

Be that as it may, I am typing up this up even if its just some sort of therapy for myself. I wanted to talk about the importance of being selfish, and how I have slowly learned to do this in my own life over the past two or three years. I came out of university to a great management job and I worked long hours, I was a ‘people-pleaser’ and moved up in rank because I always aimed to impress the boss. I thought it was pretty easy and I often wondered why everyone didn’t see the simple equation of work hard, do what the boss wants and get rewarded. Over time this got harder, especially when the recession hit and targets became more unattainable and customers stopped spending money in my industry. I moved onto work with other companies and continued to climb from the bottom of the pile up to the top controlling multiple departments and doing three people’s jobs simultaneously. It was a wonderful step up in my career and it absolutely came from saying “Yes, I’ll do that” at every opportunity.

The problem with saying yes all the time is that after a while, it becomes almost impossible to say anything else.On one hand I became the positive leader that I had always hoped I would; I genuinely motivated my staff to work hard, be happy and get results. On the other hand I constantly juggled the wants of my overworked employees, several bosses, interfering department heads and customers, all of whom had different expectations and priorities which I had to try and meet somehow without disappointing anyone. Everyone goes through stressful times at work, but I look back now and realise that I was unable to say no to anyone. I was always taught to have a ‘can do’ attitude, in fact I think I even have it written on my CV as a skill! Without making this into a negative post, you get the gist of the situation – I was very busy, and basically spinning plates for a living.

I took some time off. I have a different job now and I am hoping to change career to work in the fitness industry. I’m sure many fitness instructors and personal trainers will be reading this shaking their heads and saying that I still need a ‘can do’ attitude to get anywhere fast. I guess my realization is that I will still get there – wherever that is – but there is no rush. I don’t need to be better than everyone else, clocking in early, working from home, picking up every extra shift or training opportunity that comes along. If I can find the time to do a little extra then I absolutely will, but not if it affects my sanity or the chance to spend time with the people that matter. The people who have helped me regain my confidence after shying away from life for a while deserve to see me at my best from now on and I’m still learning how to do that.

People will ask me to do things and if I’m not comfortable doing it I will say no. Sometimes I will explain myself, sometimes they will know me well enough to understand, and sometimes I just don’t feel I need to give a reason. I’m in a position where I need to feel calm, relaxed and in control of a situation to stay healthy and if saying no will make that happen that’s what I have to do. I’m not saying its easy, but it does come with a sense of relief and freedom which can feel very positive. I know that we have to do things that scare us to learn in life, and I still continue to do that. I did my Level 2 Gym Instructor training even though I knew it would be challenging in many different ways and I went on holiday to Cannes and put myself in stressful situations which I couldn’t have done 6 months ago. I pick and choose my battles now and at the moment I only do scary things which have the potential to have an amazing outcome.

If you’re struggling to fit in time to relax, see family or even just get a good night’s sleep then I urge you to try and be selfish sometimes. Explain this to your close friends and family, and warn them that you might have to cancel plans or don’t answer your phone after a certain time at night. Tell your workmates that you can’t help out right now but that you’ll be back on track and ready to muck in soon. No one expects you to be indestructible, and they’re all too busy with there own stuff to notice if you’re snowed under. They just assume that when you can’t do anymore you’ll say ‘too much’ and slow down. So be you’re own stop sign and be selfish.

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