• Maureen O'Toole

Being Selfish Can Be Selfless

What I’m Thinking About: Being Selfish with My Time

My life has been one of service – over 25 years as a soldier, 17 years as a teacher, 24 as a mother, CEO of a non-profit, founder of a nonprofit, guest speaker year-round and giver of thousands of hours of community service. It’s taken repeated trips to the emergency room with trouble breathing problems, cancer issues and other recurring health issues for me to realize that my body can’t keep up with my desire to help others because I wasn’t helping myself. Time after time, I shift from being the Little Engine That Could saying, “I think I can, I think I can” to the Little Engine that Could Care Less saying, “I need rest, rest, rest. I’ve done enough, enough, enough.”

If we don’t take the time to renew our energy, we can become so exhausted and exasperated that we feel overwhelmed and forget the value of our own lives. With the best of intentions by giving of ourselves selflessly, we create a lose-win. We lose strength, vitality and joy while we help others.

Why You Might Be Thinking About It: Being Selfish Can Be Selfless

Too much for too long can leave too little passion for life. You might see it in yourself, family members, and employees.

The best way to be selfless at work and in our relationships is to be selfish with our time and energy. Women and men everywhere give up sleep, free time, hobbies and more to provide for and support and encourage their loved ones, peers and employees. Many people give jobs the largest chunk of every day to a job and then go home to meal prep, laundry, house-keeping, caring for family members, and children’s activities. Add yard work to this “work at home” second job and you don’t own a house, it feels like it owns you.

We have to prioritize ourselves so we can be the best version of ourselves with others.

Why It's Worth Thinking About: Even the Most Put Together Person Can Fall Apart Without Self-Care

A description I hear frequently from people of all ages in all settings is a feeling of being "overwhelmed.” The sentiments of “this is too much,” “I don’t get enough rest,” “I’m too tired to care” are common. And those feelings are exacerbated by feeling guilty about not feeling good and not doing more. We are unintentionally creating Lose-Lose by our own selfless behavior.

Being a Servant Leader only works well when you serve yourself, too. I plug in self-care every day now with habits that span the day. Here are some simple ideas for daily self-care.

  • Spend time with a pet--walking, snuggling, sleeping.

  • Write in a journal. Try starting with 3 things that you’re grateful for as the initial entry.

  • Watch scenes from an uplifting movie or show.

  • Read something uplifting.

  • Pray, meditate or do both.

  • Spend 10 minutes alone.

  • Soak in the tub.

  • Eat chocolate.

  • Exercise.

  • Garden.

#selfcare #overwhelmed #meditation