Why I’m selfish

Being selfish has never been a good look. I get it, being nice to other people is important.

However, if you don’t put yourself first and be selfish, I know from experience it’s super hard to be there for others.

I’m a crappy friend when I need a bit of me time. I’m a shitty girlfriend when I make everything about him and when work takes over, I eventually run out of steam and quit.

But, when we’re constantly told not to be selfish, how do you make it more about you?

The saying goes “you can’t pour from an empty cup” – that is, you can’t give away what you haven’t got. So how do you fill up your cup?

For the longest time, I thought my problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know what made me happy. I’d try writing lists of things I liked to do, but never ended up doing them.

As I looked at my latest list, I realised the issue wasn’t knowing what I wanted, the issue was that I wasn’t prepared to make it a priority. I never made space in my life for doing the things that made me feel like me. And slowly but surely those things slipped away.

It’s not a matter of having time, it’s always amazing what you can fit into a day when your being productive. It’s a matter of boundaries. The amount of me time I have is no one else’s responsibility, and it’s no one else problem if I made it to the gym or not.

And, if I want to there for you, i’ve got to be there for me first.

Whatever makes you shine hold onto and don’t let go – even if a better offer comes along. I promise that offer will still be there after you’ve been to the gym or meditated.

The stories I’ve made up about you

I have a running conversation in my head and it’s not just with myself. I imagine conversations I might have with people I know and then I make up their response. More often than not it’s a negative conversation. Sometimes it’s a friend picking me up on my shitty behavior or my boss pulling me up on my bad mood. Whatever the situation I always have the best answers to their reprimanding.

Apart from the obvious issues with having a chat with yourself, there are a few other problems with speaking on behalf of someone else, even if it’s in your own head. The biggest issue is you have absolutely no way of knowing how the other person feels about this situation, let alone might actually say in reality.

Now, as our brains are constantly looking to make sense of the world we live in, we join the dots where possible. And, when there is no obvious connection we make it up. This creation of a story will always reinforcing the view you already have, because after all it’s you making it up. Whatever you believe you’ll find ways to confirm.

As I run though these made up scenarios in my head and allow myself to play every role, I muster an emotional response towards these people, and just like that, my brain subconsciously applies it to real life.

With very pieces of information (fiction or real) I construct a linear story that reinforces my views of the people I know and the world we’re in.

As I write this I can’t help but wonder if anyone else is doing the same thing inside their head? And if they are, how different is their world must to mine? Have they already made up my responses and crafted an image of who they believe I am. Will they even be able to hear me if I answer differently to what they believe? Do our realities ever cross?

All I can do is consciously tried to stop myself when I feel those stories stirring in my head.

 

Pissed off therapy

I’ve been trying to ignore it but it won’t go away. I’ve been dancing around in the hope it will disappear, desperately trying every strategy to shake it off.

But it’s still there.

There’s the big issues, the ones that you give yourself permission to feel, because you know they’re a big deal. And most days I can take them in my stride.

And then there’s the smaller issues, the kind of things that are so small I shouldn’t even acknowledge them and yet, it is the weight of these little dramas that seem to send my whole world toppling over, spinning out of control – like the guy who beeped at me in the car park and then stole my space, or the fact we don’t have any milk in the fridge.

It’s all just too much.

So today i’m trying a different tactic. I’m putting my positive mantras down and diving into a whole world of pissed off.

I’m allowing myself one hour to be totally annoyed.

In this one hour i’m going to indulge in the feelings. I’m going to list every single little thing that is getting on my nerves, making me sad, mad or just generally pissing me off.

If it’s a person i’m writing them a letter, with no intention of them receiving it I can let loose.

I’m going to dive in, fully embrace and totally explore these feelings. I give myself full permission to be pissed off, annoyed and as emotional as I want.

However, when the hour is up, that’s it, we’re done, it’s over.

Step two: 

Taking a different pen and setting one more timer on my phone.

In this next hour I address each and every point on the page. It’s incredible what a difference letting the problems out has. Having to not just articulate what’s annoying me, but also write it down. The smaller issues seem to instantly dissolve away and the bigger ones are clear now and easier to tackle.

And just like that I feel better, even lighter.

Why your friendships don’t have to last

A great friend once said to me;

“People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.”

At the time, I thought nothing of it, other than it was simply a nice saying. But every once in a while, this saying popped into my head and over time it started to make more sense.

As I kiss goodbye to one more friend, whose presence made my life so much better, if only for a short while, I know in that moment – I’m better off for knowing them and saying goodbye, than never knowing them at all.

I also know the reality of living not only in different countries to the people I love, but also the impact living in different time zones can have on your relationships.

So let’s be honest here, this goodbye is goodbye. Sure, we still have Facebook and it doesn’t change how I feel about you. But the closeness we once had, is gone.

Thanks for teaching me how to be sassy and fierce. You’re the reason I stand a little taller today.

I can’t help but wonder, how important is the length of our friendships?

What about the friendships that don’t end because of distance, but end because we simply grow apart?

It doesn’t mean the friendship was a failure. Nor does it discredit the fun you had when you were together. It simply means that this chapter of your life is over. Thank’s for the season, I had a ball.

And, for the friendships that last a lifetime, I will always be grateful.

Some lifetime friendships are like waves, building in strength and then subsiding, only to reappear at a different moment.

And some friendships are constant. Forever, regardless of distance, or stage of life.

This doesn’t mean the season or reason friendships are less important. It simply means they’re shorter.

And so, for all the people I’ve been lucky enough to call my friends, regardless of the length, I am forever thankful.

 

Should you tell your friend you don’t like their partner?

A very close friend of mine recently broke up with her long term partner.

Over dinner one night, after the debris of the breakup had settled and a few wines in, I confessed – I never really liked him.

He wasn’t abusive, he never cheated, in fact, he didn’t actually do anything ‘wrong’, it was just a feeling I had. Come to think of it, it wasn’t even that I didn’t like him, it was that I didn’t see him make her happy, he didn’t bring out her best self.

She thought for a moment and then responded, ‘you’re not the first person to have said this, why did no one tell me while we were together?’

Would it really have made any difference? I justified my inaction with another question.

Who am I to tell you what to do?

And then, I thought about my own experience, one past relationship that ended particularly painfully. As my friends came one by one, to console my broken heart, the truth soon came out. They never really liked him.

Why, oh why, did no one tell me? I felt instantly annoyed. Could someone have prevented all this heartache?

Are we doing a disservice to our friends by not saying something when we don’t like their choice in partners? Or when it’s just our own preference should we keep our opinions to ourselves and let them make their own mistakes?

When you’re in love, it’s hard enough to see the signs right in front of you, or feel the niggling doubt in the back of your mind, let alone hear it from your friends. Would you really listen?

And maybe there’s something in going through the pain.

If we’re the sum of all our experiences, good and bad, then going through something shitty – like a breakup, is important for our growth.

I’m not saying sit by and watch your friends stay in terrible relationships. But, maybe when we don’t feel it’s the right match, it’s our duty as friends to simply support each other while we figure it all out.

You made me cry, are you ok?

Now I am the first person to admit that I am a sensitive soul and crying is part of the deal.

One of the problems with being so sensitive is you are often drawn to the tougher, less sensitive people in life.

I suppose it goes back to cave man times –  find what you’re lacking in others and stick with it, that way you’ll be all right.

The problem is with modern day personalities the ones who come across the toughest, are often the ones with the most issues and just as sensitive on the inside, which doesn’t always make the best mix.

For years I’ve had this little rule when it comes to life: if you make me cry, it’s over, you’re out. But recently it has occurred to me that maybe walking away from every cross word, every disagreement is not always the best way to travel.

I so desperately don’t want it to bother me. I want it to wash over me and then move on, but it lingers inside the pit of my stomach, heart racing, hand shaking, tears rolling.

So what can I do?

Hold it in, kick off, shout back, hold a grudge or simply write the friendship off and walk away?

There is one other option: reframe.

This means taking what has happened and saying to myself, “You said those words. They are your words. They come from you. You chose to say those words – these are all facts outside of my control.

Then your words reached me and I choose how to hear them, how to see them, how to feel about them and where to put them.

And so I think about it again, there you are saying the words, I see them coming out of your mouth and I wonder how you feel while you say them.

I think about you saying the words, I can see you are upset, you are angry. Underneath anger lies another emotion, something inside you, something bubbling do you even know what it is?

I don’t feel sad for me any more, I feel sad for you.

Reframe again.

I think of five reasons why I love having you in my life; you’re kind, your thoughtful, you’re loyal, you’re fun, you’re adventures. ……. you must have been having a bad day!

Are you ok?