I have been thinking a lot about this lately. Selfishness-in-the-good-sense, healthy egoism, giving yourself what you need and most importantly:
How you can live your life, constantly giving to yourself so you and your life (and those in it) will be better for it.
The first time I thought about giving to myself was right after I rolled out of a yoga class, all gross and sweaty but super energised and happy.
This had been after a 06:30 yoga class. Man oh man, those classes are not easy to get to for yours truly. Hard won shit right there.
First, it requires packing all my shit the night before. Then, at 05:30 I have to get out of bed, grumbling while getting into my clothes and out the door at 05:40. I have to gulp down a bottle of water in the 10-minute subway ride to my stop, and at 06:05 I have to walk to the studio. I arrive there around 06:15 and then all I want to do is fall asleep in my savasana.
It require thought, effort and energy to pull this off this early in the morning. No snoozing and ending up missing my subway train. No turning off my alarm and turning around for another couple of hours of sleep. None of that. Effort to get to the studio, and then focus on my yoga practice while I still feel sleepy.
But it pays off.
Afterwards I feel great: I’m awake, stretched out, happy. I have killer focus the rest of the day. No matter how shitty my day may get, I already took the time for myself and my favourite work-out and active meditation. I already gave that to myself.
So when I came out of that yoga class, in my lucid post-yoga high I thought “Every yoga class is a gift to yourself.”
And ever since I thought that, the more general idea of ‘giving to yourself’ stuck in my head. Like a pleasant soundbite on repeat. Give to yourself.
I don’t always do that: Give to myself.
See, I shift into my basic survival mode real quick. When I feel overwhelmed, stressed, uncertain, pissed off, that is my go-to.
I just make it through the day, then I throw myself onto a microwave lasagna and then onto my bed. When I’m unhappy, I just go through the motions and distract myself with TV and going to bed early. When I have a lot to do, when I’m stressed, when work is busy: Survival mode it is.
From time to time, this is necessary. And it is perfectly fine to use the basic survival mode in times of stress and business. But the problem with this type of living is that it sucks the fun and growth out of me as a person.
I kept the whole ‘giving to yourself’ thing in my mind since that class. It inspired me to do good things for myself. I saw doing that as giving myself gifts, and I like both giving and receiving gifts.
Helweek was a gift to myself, because it made me do all this productive discipline-y shit.
Every yoga class and every run I did the past few weeks? Were gifts to increase my health and happiness.
Every to do lists item checked off? Gift to battle the idea that I’m undisciplined.
I blog, because it is a gift to a part of my life that I love.
Every healthy salad for lunch, every juice, every time I made a smoothie? Gift, gift, gift.
Because of this paradigm shift, I’m doing better. I feel happier, more in control, and more positive towards myself. I like the idea that I am the one who is doing all of this shit, for me.
Sometimes doing good things for ourselves can feel like duties, chores, things we MAKE ourself do. But if you look at it as if doing these things are gifts, the feel of it changes. It feels easier, maybe more fun even.
The energy you give to yourself is energy that you get back double or triple-fold, sometimes even beyond that. Giving to yourself is worth doing.
So I want you to take that with you today — and beyond that. For as long as you can (and then reread this ok good job).
Think of things you want to give yourself. Whether it’s a good work-out, a good meal, a moment of peace and quiet (for all those mommas out there), some quality time with someone you love or even beyond that: Leaving a bad relationship, a soul-sucking job, therapy to start feeling better.
Whatever it is you need or want, give it to yourself.
Trust me, you’re an awesome gift-giver. You are going to love it.