#63 - Is it ACTUALLY Selfish to DO YOU?!
Well, to answer the question posed in the title...f$%# NO IT'S NOT! But, lemme take a second to tell you where this came from. I was talking to a client and she was telling me how she was on vacation and telling all her friends about all the things we'd been doing in her sessions. How she was learning to set boundaries in her life between her work and personal life, how she identified her values...all the things! And one of her friends asked, "but isn't that selfish?!" Ever since we had that conversation, this has been on my mind. IS IT SELFISH?!
I've been there and I've thought the same thing. When I was making some of the biggest decisions in my life--like leaving my PhD-- that was one of the biggest questions I found myself asking. Is it selfish?! That decision doesn't just affect me. So, is it selfish? Those big life decisions can be fraught with fear, guilt and questions of selfishness. In today's episode, we're going to EXPLORE that. We're going to talk about a perspective shift that can help you work through it and we're going to give you a TANGIBLE, SIMPLE AF action step for how you can START living your life FOR YOU + on YOUR TERMS! Head to coachellyn.com/podcast for the show notes and to coachellyn.com/growth-tribe for extra deets on the Growth Tribe Academy!
WHAT I TALK ABOUT…
Why we so often think that it’s selfish to be ourselves
The problem with should-ing and approaching things from the perspective of selfish-ness
How to overcome that feeling of selfish-ness
Resources in this episode:
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02:15 Hey everybody and welcome back to the growth tribe podcast. Today we are talking about "is it actually selfish to do you" and let me preface where this is coming from.
02:28 So this conversation today, this live, this podcast is inspired actually bya conversation I had with a client probably a month or two ago. And she was talking about the fact that when she was on vacation with some friends. One of her friends, she'd been talking to her about the fact that she's doing coaching and she's making all of these big life changes and setting better boundaries, you know, in her relationships between her work life and her personal life. You know, all of these things. And her friend is, she was telling her this to said "is that, isn't that selfish though?" And that was really interesting. So my client shared this with me when we had our session after she got back from her vacation. And it's something that has come up for me over and over and over again.
03:15 As I was journaling this morning, it came up again and I was reflecting on previous journaling that I'd done. And I want to share one with you guys, which I really, really feel like might resonate for those of you, if you've ever asked this question, if you ever wanted and wondered "is it selfish to do this thing for myself? Is it selfish to prioritize myself?" I want to share this with you because when I reread this journal entry...and you're probably going to be seeing a fair amount more of this. But when I re read this journal entry, I was just like, I need to share this because it just feels so resonant and so many people could probably relate to it. So it says...
03:53 "Am I selfish? Is it selfish for me to want so much out of my life to be so picky about where I spend my time and who I spend my time with?
04:04 No, I don't think so. Not in the slightest. Disappointing people has always been one of my biggest fears. Disappointing my parents, disappointing my friends, my mentors, my clients and yeah, myself, I've tried for so long to be perfect. Not, you know, according to my standards, but definitely according to other people's...To my parent's standards, to my friend's, peers', mentor's, standard's. I've tried to be perfect for these people. I mean, I think back on relationships I've been in in the past and how I've realized I wasn't happy, but I held on because, well, I thought it felt selfish to give up on them.
04:49 And how many of us can relate to that, right? How many of us have stayed, not even just romantic relationships but friendships, because we didn't want to give up too soon on the person. When I realized that this person was no longer a person that I wanted or that they no longer were what they once were, that they no longer were the person that I fell for. Is it selfish to then leave that person? Is it selfish to then move on from that relationship, friendship or otherwise staying in a relationship that's no longer making you happy? It's like the ultimate example of "it's okay to do what's best for you. Right?"
05:28 We use that all the time. I mean, if we're talking to our girlfriends or our children, you know, depending upon how old you are and how old your children are. If we're talking to these, people will say, you know, "do what's best for you". And it's the ultimate example of, "no, it's not selfish to do what's best for you", but what about the other parts of our life?
05:49 What about our careers? What about our goals for how to live our lives? What about our friendships? We know that these aren't different and yet so often we treat them like they are.
06:00 When I was thinking about leaving Grad school, that was the biggest thing I struggled with. It felt selfish. I felt guilty. I felt guilt for all of the resources that had been "wasted"...time, money, et cetera. I felt guilty about all the people that I would be disappointing along the way, you know, whether it was my mentor, my parents even, you know, my friends in graduate school who, that was our connection point, you know, that was the thing that we bonded over. That was our shared experience on how our relationship was formed. You know, I held on as long as I did in graduate school for me. But also because I didn't want to make rash decisions and because I didn't want to let these people down, you know? So when we come from a place of if it's selfish, we live for other people who I...and I really liked this part of the journal entry...
06:56 So for those of you that jumped on, I'm just sharing a journal entry right now, but I really thought might resonate with you guys.
07:01 So when we come from a place of is it selfish, we live for other people. And though that's not a bad thing, wanting to make others happy isn't a bad thing.
07:12 Here's the important question: "Are you putting their happiness in front of your own? Are you making it a higher priority than your own happiness? Because if you are, the risk there is that the longer you wait to live for you, the more likely that you are to have that guilt morph into something a little bit more damaging. To have that guilt morph into resentment, feelings of guilt and selfishness. They can be shackles... And I really liked this part... They can be shackles that are essentially chaining us to a future that's not ours.
07:55 And that's the problem. We so often say in this generation that we don't want to be tied down. But guilt and selfishness? Those are the ultimate shackles. They are the shame that we allow to permeate our lives. But what if we stopped?
08:14 The decisions that I've made for myself have been a domino effect and the first one was the hardest to topple, but now each choice is so much easier.
08:21 So that was the journal entry. Um, and the piece I really like at the end, which I'd love to elaborate on is the fact that, and this is where we really start coming from the perspective of boundaries and of priorities as we talked about how, you know, we've gotta set. We've got to think about what we want. You know, I totally understand, you know, trying to, you know, make other people proud of us, make other people supportive.
08:49 I totally understand that sometimes the relationships that we form, that we have these points connection over things that maybe we grow out of. You know, for me it was Grad School, it was science and what happens then when we don't want that anymore,? Our relationships can change. And so often we hold onto the things that are no longer serving us, the things that we no longer desire in our lives because we're trying to make other people happy.
09:17 But, and this is the big thing here, if we continue to live out of that place, if we continue to think, "well, it's selfish of me to focus on only on what I want and not what these other people want for me"...If we come from that place, inevitably that grows into resentment. No, that grows into, I said shackles, which you might seem like an extreme analogy to make here. But essentially that's what these feelings of selfishness and guilt do for us is they shackle us to things that we don't want.
09:51 And what's interesting here is we all know, if you're coming from the perspective of wanting to not disappoint, parents or mentors. We all know that these people want nothing but the best for us, right? They want us to be happy. They want us to, you know, live lives that we love. They want that for us. And yet it's so hard to release that expectation. It's so hard to release that fear of "is it selfish? Isn't it selfish for me to make this choice for me?" I know.
10:20 I mean, I'm not a mom. I can't possibly understand the perspective of mothers, but you know, all mothers want to set a good example for their kids, right? I mean, is that a too simplistic point of view for me to take? I mean please mothers, if you disagree with that, let me know.
10:39 But if you want to set a good example for your kids, doesn't that ultimately mean that you want to paint a picture of what a happy life looks like. This is what a fulfilling life looks like. You know? Is it selfish to set that example?
10:55 But, now really quickly, I want to circle back to that last point to wrap this up with that last point I made about how the first decision, the first "selfish" decision you make is often going to be the most difficult and is often going to be the longest. The one that takes the longest to make is often be the hardest domino to push over. I love thinking of it from the perspective of dominoes because that first domino is the hardest one to make fall. But what does that first domino have? It has momentum and that momentum picks up the more dominoes that fall.
11:27 So that first "selfish" decision that we make is going to be the hardest one for me. That decision was leaving Grad school. That decision was, you know, something that it took years for me to get to that point. It took years and a lot of, you know, polling of other people, is this the right choice for me to make that choice? But once I toppled that first domino, the next decision I made for me was going on Remote Year. And yeah, that was a hard decision to make too.
11:57 After remote year it was then okay, I'll work remotely. That was an easier decision to make.
12:06 I'll start my business. Easier decision to make and so on and so forth.
12:10 But decisions get easier and easier and easier to make. We've got to start with one. It's simple, right? It's a really, really simplistic way to look at this. But if you start with that first decision, that first decision that you're making for you, that you might feel selfish for. Might make you feel a little bit guilty about "am I dedicating too much time to myself? Am I putting too much money toward myself?" And you might have those feelings of is it selfish but always come back to are you putting other people above yourself? Are you putting other people's priorities, other people's values above yourself? We've got to set that boundary at some point. We've got to make that first choice for ourselves. And then once we do, the dominoes become easier to topple.
13:00 So, to circle back to the beginning there, that first conversation that I had with my former client about is it selfish is doing coaching or therapy or you know, joining a gym or starting a workout program or maybe you've always wanted to run a half marathon... making those first decisions.
13:20 You might run up against people who say "that's selfish, you should be spending that time working", which is something I ran into when I was in science. "Ellyn, you should be spending that time in lab." Well, why? I get my work done. Why do I need to spend that extra time in lab? You don't. You don't. You just have to set a boundary between how much influence you let other people's priorities, values, et Cetera, have on your life. And once you set that first boundary, once you make that first choice of "I'm going to do this for me, this is a choice I'm making for me", that first domino falls and the rest of those choices become so much easier.
14:03 So is it actually selfish to do you? It might feel that way. It might feel that way when you get started. It might feel that way and that first decision, second decision, third decision. But the more dominoes you start to topple, the more decisions you start to make for you in your life, the easier it becomes to live for you and not for other people.
14:25 And again, it's a hard place to start from, but you've just got to start with everything in life, you know, with fitness, with making career changes and yeah, with starting to make more choices for you, it always starts with that first choice. It always starts with that first domino. So for you, if this is something you struggle with, decide what that first domino is for you. Focus in on making the best decision for you in that something that you know is in line with your priorities and your core values.
14:55 And it's not selfish to make that decision. It's ultimately going to be the best decision for you. It's ultimately gonna be the best decision for your family because they get to experience you in a more authentic capacity. And isn't that what we all want to live lives that are more unapologetically authentic to ourselves?
15:13 So, before I keep rambling, I'm going to wrap this up. Short and sweet - it's not selfish to do. You topple that first domino and each subsequent decision you make for you is going to be easier and easier. Thanks so much for those of you that jumped on. I hope you all have a great day.