Courage for career women blog

with Vanessa May

Why it’s actually OK to be selfish

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One common thread among the women I work with is this notion of having to hurry everything. 

They wake up with a list in their heads, then jump onto the wheel of juggling work and life and the many roles that come with it.  

They’re so busy – but it’s the kind of busy that is meant to keep them and their families afloat, not the kind of busy that’s the result of fulfilling, balanced schedule.  They feel trapped in this cycle, but the circumstances seem to work for those around them because others are getting their needs met.

I see two challenges they face in getting off the wheel. Firstly, their belief system and secondly their willingness – to be uncomfortable, to sit in the void between an old way ending and a new way beginning, and to do the inner work needed to claim what they truly want. 

Their belief system often has a strong narrative around the act of being selfless.

It’s enmeshed in cultural beliefs and conditioning of what it means to be a working woman, mother, wife, etc.  Maybe they’ve come from a family where the mother was superwoman holding up perfected veneers.  Or perhaps they’ve been striving to achieve success but not on their terms.

They’re aware that life passes through quickly and this fuels the sense of frustration and resentment that they’re holding everything up, but their needs aren’t met. This awareness adds to their frustration, and they question how did I end up here, what’s wrong with me, why doesn’t anyone else seem to care?

The definition of being selfish is “lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”  

If you are someone who has marginalised selfishness in your life, the gift of being selfish is that you decide to prioritise yourself. 

You take a stance for yourself that you, your values, your opinions, your feelings, and your leadership matter.  

If you have an avoidance strategy around being selfish because your belief system tells you it’s not ok, that you don’t matter, and that others matter more than you, you are setting yourself up for burnout and unfulfillment.  

Claiming your worth and pursuing the work and life that you want involves putting yourself first and prioritising your needs. You have to give yourself permission to feel the resentment you feel for having allowed yourself to come last on the list and accept that the only person that can change this is you.

Sure, people may react, but in the long run, you will feel and do better because you are honouring you and your unique expression and purpose in the world. This act of honouring yourself feels right inside.  You feel congruent, authentic and in integrity with yourself.

In my book, Live Courageously, I tell the stories of courageous women who’ve faced their own internal dark wood and resentment and discovered what they truly want and set a path to making that happen for themselves.  

If you are struggling to put yourself first and would like to join a community of like-minded women who are exploring themselves and claiming the work and life they want, why not join me for my book launch on April 6. Click here to register.