Why Women Need to Be a Little More Selfish
Over time I’ve learned that my food and body struggles were triggered by not giving myself enough of my own time and attention.
I know that I’m not alone in this, it’s common for many women to deprive themselves of intentional time and attention.
For me, striving at work, education, or career achievements would easily lead me to neglecting myself and my true needs for the sake of a goal.
I would get into striving mode and ignore my hobbies, ignore my self-care, ignore my true wants and needs.
As one example, I love listening to music and playing the piano, it’s a form of self-care for me. However, when stressed and trying to “make things happen”, I would go unconscious, and weeks and sometimes months would go by that I had disconnected from this joy.
I would always feel the negative effects.
What I’ve noticed for myself over time is that the less I nourish my emotions and spirit, the more I become hungry for food.
Food is such an easy way to cope with the stress of life. We can easily turn to food as a substitute for the real fun, peace, and happiness we are craving.
There is no shame in this, it’s just a fact that food (or alcohol) is an easy and convenient way we humans wind down and escape from life and stress.
We eat or drink in an attempt to give ourselves some of the inner peace and pleasure we are really seeking.
But unfortunately it’s not a great substitute long-term, it’s a very temporary and fleeting pleasure that has negative side effects.
We often overeat or go to comfort foods like sugar to escape, to feel better, to give our stressed brains some of that dopamine they are craving.
However, what happens afterwards is our energy gets zapped and we don’t feel healthy or good about ourselves.
Many women experience this when they cope or escape stress through food over and over again.
Using food to cope can truly harm our physical and mental wellbeing.
Now, why do women need to be a little more selfish, and make themselves their #1 priority ahead of everyone and everything else in their lives? (I realize this thought might make some women uncomfortable, so I will explain).
Reflect on this…
Have you ever said to yourself you don’t have enough time or energy to plan or cook healthy meals, or enough time to spend with yourself and process your thoughts and feelings, or enough time to go move your body, or enough time to do the things you really love, or enough time to fully relax, enjoy, and savor your life fully?
Do you ever feel like there’s so much to do and never enough time to really take care of YOU?
Do you ever say to yourself: When “X” happens then I will relax and focus more of my time and energy on myself and on having fun.
Maybe you give so much to everything else, such as your family, your career, even your weight loss goals, that you put all those responsibilities above your own true needs, desires, and wellbeing.
And regarding your ideal body, have you ever tried so hard to lose weight and "eat right" that you only ended up eating more to cope with your own self-abuse?
If that’s ever been you, ask yourself: Why?
Often unconsciously, it has to do with our feeling of self-worth.
We may feel like we need to earn approval from others or from ourselves, or prove ourselves worthy of something, or earn permission from ourselves or others to have what we truly want.
Therefore we work really hard in life and put everyone and everything else ahead of our own wellbeing.
Also, when we are ambitious high achieving women, it’s a badge of honor in our American society to “do all the things” and accomplish “all the things”, even at the expense of not taking care of ourselves.
We women will even lose weight and try to maintain a certain body size at the expense of our wellbeing.
But there’s one really important thing to remember when you are constantly giving to the world or striving for something, and not giving back to yourself - you can’t pour water from an empty pitcher.
If you’re never giving back to yourself in an optimal way, and really taking the time to fill up your own pitcher through self-care, everyone and everything you care about suffers in the end because you are giving from a place of deprivation and depletion.
You may feel over-stressed and emotional and then snap at people, you might make poor decisions, or procrastinate on your goals.
You may get through the day by consuming too much coffee, sugar, or energy drinks.
Even though you might be showing up “strong” to the outside world, inside you feel lethargy, anxiety, overwhelm, or lack of inspiration.
When we are suffering like this, the people and things we care about also suffer.
Our families, friends, and careers are not getting the best version of us.
In our striving so hard to be the “best”, if we don’t make ourselves our #1 priority, we become our worst, and the world gets the lowest quality version of us.
It's in these moments of feeling deprived and depleted that emotional eating easily becomes a way we try to get our own attention.
I hope you see more clearly now why it’s ok to be a little selfish and give yourself some of your own intentional time and attention.
If you have a habit of over-striving and over-giving (and then overeating) at the expense of your personal wellbeing, now is the time to take radical responsibility and give yourself permission to change it.
Women (more than men) have this misconception that somebody must come in and give us permission to change who we are or what we are doing.
But waiting for permission to be truly happy and healthy is a huge roadblock that causes us to miss out on our lives.
When it comes to your health and wellbeing, you have to take responsibility and be your own authority on what you need, and then give it to yourself.
When you are taking more time for yourself and for your true wants and needs (those things in life that bring you joy and balance), you cultivate a positive relationship with yourself that is built on self-worth, self-love, self-respect, self-integrity, and your true values and what you stand for in life.
Taking the time to cultivate this relationship with yourself is essential for optimal health and wellness, because when you give yourself permissions to love and respect yourself more than anything else on the planet, not only does everything and everyone in your life benefit, you also naturally eat better, take time to exercise, have more energy, and feel better in your body, because you naturally want to do what is in your best interest.
Bottom line: Making yourself your #1 priority serves your health and how you feel about yourself, it serves your career and life goals because you have more energy, focus, and creativity, and it serves all the people and things you care about because they get the highest quality version of you.
Homework: Reflect on where you might be denying or depriving yourself, and how can you give yourself more of what you are truly hungry for,
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