You Do You: Why It's Ok To Be "Selfish" Sometimes


When we are told that we are "selfish," there is an automatic feeling that we are doing something shameful. 

Our society sends us contradictory messages. We are an individualistic culture that teaches us to fend for ourselves (The American Dream). While also judging us harshly, when we make decisions that benefit us or put our needs first.

I personally used to be terrified of being selfish.

In all honesty, it was probably my worst fear.

My whole life, I wanted to be "liked," would put my own needs aside for others and pretend to be OK with my people pleasing ways... When I wasn't. 

Then this summer happened. 

Everyone tends to look at therapists and think that we have all the answers to life. Clients, friends and family often put us on pedestals.

I get it... Our job is too give "life advice" and guide people through some of the most difficult and vulnerable moments. 

Let me just say this: THERE IS NO ROAD MAP TOO LIFE. 

Therapists are humans too and we most defiantly are not immune to pain, suffering and utter confusion. In fact, we are often sensitive, people pleasing, empaths that feel too much and were labeled, "the overly dramatic ones," throughout our lives.

That's why we do what we do.... We can't help but feel.

There is nothing more fulfilling then helping a client change their life and watching them overcome challenges.

What many people don't know, one of the hardest parts of this job is applying what we teach our clients in our own lives. For lack of better words: practicing what we preach.

This summer was one of the most difficult of my entire life. When I say my world got "turned upside down," I mean it. Everything I thought I wanted and had, was suddenly taken away and what I pictured for my future was totally destroyed.

Frankly, I didn't know how to handle any of it.

What I did know, was that I had to give myself permission to be selfish, put myself and my needs first. This was not easy for me. It doesn't come naturally and I didn't know what it would look or feel like, which probably resulted in me making some mistakes and hurting people that I love and care about dearly.  

But, for the first time in my life... I didn't feel the need to beat myself up for it. I realized that my soul had to heal and that it was OK too make mistakes and admit that I am not perfect, nor am I invincible to suffering. 

Of course there are things that I could have done differently, and it's important to take responsibility for that, however, it doesn't mean that I am: "not enough," "a bad person," or "unlovable."  I am just a human and humans are not perfect.

By allowing myself the space to do what was best for me- I began to heal wounds from the past, that have followed me and held me back from reaching my highest potential. 

These are the top 10 things that I learned:

1.  Your self-worth and value isn't dependent on others opinions or perceptions of you.

2. True friends will never judge you- even though they may not agree with your actions.

3. We might hurt people we love and that doesn't mean we are "bad people" or that relationship didn't truly matter to us.

4. You can not plan life... It never will go according to plan. 

5. People you least expect will come out of the woods for you... Let yourself accept their love.

6. Sometimes you have to surrender and just have trust in the darkest of times.

7. The person you think that you are supposed to be and who you are meant to be might be completely different. Try to lean into that realization and be curious about what life is trying to teach you. 

8. People that go through difficult stuff, mess up, learn from it and get back up are the wise ones. 

9. Never judge anyone for what they do... Because one day that might be you being judged.

10. It's ok not to be perfect, ask for help and be honest when you are struggling. People will not reject you... They may even feel closer too you. 

The reason that I wanted to share this more personal post with my followers is because throughout this experience... I have noticed a profound shift in my work with my clients. 

I have felt more connected to them and noticed that therapy sessions are going deeper then ever before. Clients are allowing themselves to be truly seen and vulnerable with me. Three different colleagues of mine also shared that they felt a more authentic, confident and calm energy from me- even though I was going through so much pain.

All of this helped me realize this:  When we give ourselves permission to be authentic, imperfect and vulnerable... It automatically transcends us. It passes into the energy of those around us, and unconsciously gives them permission to be imperfect too.

Being seen in our deepest pain as wounded and vulnerable humans, while not feeling judged or "not good enough." Those experiences are the birthplace of connection

My hope with sharing this post is to help readers, other therapist and clients feel more comfortable in embracing their humanity. There are times in life to be selfless and there are times too be selfish... Give yourself permission too put yourself first- life isn't easy, but without darkness you wouldn't know light.

Stop people pleasing others to be loved or accepted... The people who matter will love you regardless and the rest don't matter anyway.

Lastly, don't apologize for putting yourself first. You can't pour from an empty cup- no one can. 

From my soul to yours,