A lot of poor behaviour is linked into (what life coaches would call) “limiting beliefs” – be it around money, self-worth, relationships – whatever. This (another life coach term) “poverty mentality” often starts early on in life and becomes deeply ingrained within our (more powerful) subconscious mind. So, although we might not be aware that we consciously have these perceptions; a deeply internalised notion may be constantly impinging upon our ability to truly thrive.
Throughout our emerging years – and with the best of intentions – adults consistently impart various nuggets of wisdom. The problem is, that sometimes these “nuggets” really aren’t that golden. Phrases such as “money is the root of all evil,” “make do with what you have” or “you’re just not a fast learner” all serve to plant a seed or belief around a certain facet of our lives. Beliefs that for one aren’t necessarily true and for another, definitely aren’t helpful. The problem is that when the message is on repeat enough; it becomes more deeply rooted within our psyche and much more difficult to reverse.
Whilst I have many concerns around some of the social messages we give young people in today’s society; the scope to carve out an individual, meaningful and wonderful life has never been more strongly celebrated than it is today. We have inspiration all around us and source materials right at the touch of a button. It has never been easier to learn and explore but yet, as the old saying goes , many choose to “make do with what we have”. Why?
Well …….not everyone is wired to be super-ambitious and nor should they feel that they have to be either. We are, after all, creatures of habit. This post is not about suggesting everyone has to be an entrepreneur or chase the dollar relentlessly in life. For some of us, that simply isn’t our purpose. What I’m talking about here is living an authentic life and that is a: knowing what your purpose is and b: having standards that meet it. Standards around your self-worth, standards around relationships, standards around the jobs you take – standards, full stop. For some people, this will be just too much like hard work. But if you can’t (or won’t) put the hard work in around what you want out of life, no-one else is going to do it for you. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there is a possibility for many of us that Prince Charming just won’t show up, so it’s best to realise this early on and be architects of our own lives, where possible.
Of course, this doesn’t always make life easier in the short term but in the longer term it saves a great deal of pain, not to mention your valuable time. Just last Christmas I had a big bust-up with a male friend who I called out (quite harshly it has to be said) on what I considered to be really disrespectful and shoddy behaviour. His response was that he refused to be judged by my unreasonable standards (that’s fair enough; he’s entitled to his opinion) and that basically he’d treated me the way he treats everyone, close family included. As I wasn’t happy about the way I imparted my message, I apologised for that but I did tell him that I was never going to apologise for caring/having standards and that if I wasn’t happy in a situation, I’d always say.
And that’s just the way I have to operate nowadays. It’s not that I think I’m better than others or that they’re wrong. Far from it…. but I have way too many years biting my lip, not wanting to offend and being miserable in the process. In other words settling. And I just won’t live my life like that anymore. Sadly, the upshot of this situation was that I had to wish this person well but explain to him that I couldn’t be close friends with him. His behaviour just pushes my buttons and ultimately we’re just too different in aspects of our personalities that really count. As one of the most bright, intelligent and talented people I know, I wish him nothing but the best. Am I sad this person isn’t in my life? Absolutely. You bet. However, I know that this is easier than being in a situation where I couldn’t be honest with him for fear of offending and unfortunately, that is what a close relationship with him would mean. Essentially, I wouldn’t be able to be my authentic self and sooner or later that would manifest itself in my reaching boiling point, unable to keep a lid of things and behaving in a way I didn’t like.
As I’ve said before, if you don’t like the person you become in a relationship; that’s a massive red flag. It’s exactly the same if you’re in a job that you hate, where you’re underpaid or maybe undervalued or in a relationship of convenience, simply going through the motions and slowly dying inside. Chances are that in any such situation your levels of self respect will be pretty diminished…….
How many times have you heard a friend talk about the “check list” of what they want in a man (incidentally, very often this isn’t what they actually need in a partner) but not considered what they don’t want – i.e. the true “deal breakers”. For me, these attributes are far more important than someone’s height, age, profession or whatnot. Likewise, how many women do you know who are with a man purely for financial reasons, in a relationship where there’s no passion or worse still, respect? And out of these women, how many of them do you know actually pursued the man because of what they could offer financially, as opposed to all of the other ways that a partner might enrich their lives?
I’m certain you’re aware of at least a few and I’m certain that you know, deep down these women are not happy. That’s all because they settled. Despite outward appearances, no amount of money is going to save a lifeless relationship. So unless you’re both on the same page about what you’re expecting out of the union – and it truly is one of convenience – this for me, is where a very important line gets crossed. Anyone – male or female – who chooses a partner because they’re offering things that they’re too lazy to pursue; is not only setting themselves up for failure but messing with the emotions of another.
It’s about getting your own house in order, keeping your own side of the street tidy and it applies to everything in life. So be the custodian of your own story and never, ever hand the keys to someone else. Dust settles. You don’t.
Last year that was a big thing about the Danish word hygge which describes a particular kind of comfort. The Interweb was awash with pictures of roaring fires, scented candles and squishy sofas. Normally sensible folk ran amok in John Lewis buying cashmere throws and knitted cushions, trying to recreate their own little sense of hygge at home.
Unfortunately, there isn’t such a term for a particular type of selfishness and consequently our associations with the term are generally negative. When I looked for some interesting memes to accompany this article (about selfishness not being a bad thing necessarily) there were none to be found. Quite. Literally. None. Fortunately, I love a challenge and I did find one that expressed perfectly what I am trying to say here:
There is a very good reason why they tell you to fit the oxygen mask to yourself first, isn’t there? In the event of a problem, it means that in looking after yourself first, you are able to help others. However, other than being 30,000 feet up in the air or in the middle of the ocean; in daily life a lot of us grapple with this concept.
As women; I think we particularly struggle with the idea of looking after ourselves before others; especially as parents. How many times have you heard a frustrated female say “he’s just so selfish” about a partner or spouse? Maybe this difference between the sexes (in the sense of putting oneself first) harks way back to when men went out hunting and women were left looking after the family. In order to make sure he brought back food for his tribe, I am quite certain that the accomplished hunter took care of himself (in terms of being fed, rested and watered) before he did anything else. Which actually makes perfect sense: particularly at a time when the roles between the sexes are becoming increasingly blurred. With more and more women now the major breadwinner or going it alone entirely; isn’t it about time we let a little of that prehistoric psyche win through?
But the benefits of being selfish, reach far beyond our ability to put food on the table. Looking after yourself first will also enable you to show up in a friendship, job or relationship as the best version of yourself you can possibly be. If you are emotionally and physically drained because you are constantly putting everyone’s needs before yourself; sooner or later you will be running on fumes and have nothing left to give.
So maybe being selfish isn’t such a bad thing after all, but if you just can’t bring yourself to think of it that way, then call it self-hygge.