We call it selfing, neither selfish nor selfless, but the perfect balance between the two. Selfing is the skill of being true to yourself and being in balance with your commitments to others. It can be a special challenge if your world is filled with many wonderful opportunities to say “yes” to and it feels difficult to choose between them. Or, it can be difficult if you have a hard time saying “no” to people. It can be helpful to remember that every time you say “yes” to something, you are also saying “no” to something or someone else, maybe without being aware of it. Many people are over-committed and they haven’t recognized it yet. They are simply feeling the symptoms. The symptoms are recurrently feeling conflicted in what you “should” do as compared to what you “want” to do. Feeling exhausted. Feeling guilty because you are afraid you are letting others down. Not having enough time. Feeling resentful. Feeling like the weight of the world is resting on your shoulders.
If you have any of these feelings, it’s time to take your life back. It’s time to collect your personal energy and redistribute it according to your priorities. Take your power back from the invisible tyrannies of a material culture that says – “more, more, faster faster is a better way of life.” Needing others’ approval more than your own is it’s own kind of tyranny. Needing to accommodate others desires at your own expense can be another, or living your life according to other peoples’ terms of success. Take your life back and recommit it to the people and activities that bring you the most peace, happiness and long-term satisfaction.
In the end, your life belongs to you. If you don’t take care of it, you will suffer and everyone who really cares about you will suffer. The high art of self-love and self-care cannot be delegated.
Here is a story that seems fitting to this theme:
Take Time To Notice
I had a very special teacher in high school many years ago whose husband unexpectedly died suddenly of a heart attack. About a week after his death, she shared some of her insight with a classroom of students.
As the late afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the classroom windows and the class was nearly over, she moved a few things aside on the edge of her desk and sat down there. With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused and said, “Before class is over, I would like to share with all of you a thought that is unrelated to class, but which I feel is very important. Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is God’s way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day.”
Her eyes beginning to water, she went on, “So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn’t have to be something you see — it could be a scent — perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone’s house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the ‘stuff’ of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted. We must make it important to notice them, for at any time… it can all be taken away.”
The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our books and filed out of the room silently.
That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way home from school than I had that whole semester. Every once in a while, I think of that teacher and remember what an impression she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate all of those things that sometimes we all overlook. Take notice of something special you see on your lunch hour today. Go barefoot. Or walk on the beach at sunset. Stop off on the way home tonight to get a double-dip ice cream cone. For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn’t do.