This time around, thinking about me, myself and I doesn’t make you selfish
The idea is simple: Give yourself a little love and attention once in a while. Strike that. Do it for a change. It’s one of those answers that stare people right in the face but are overlooked instead. Familiar yet foreign, we glaze over self-love and self-care because we are somewhat programmed to put other people first.
At an early age, we are told by children’s books that sharing is caring. It’s how we keep the peace in the playgrounds and classrooms. Later on, we get further confirmation that generosity is the ticket to a good life. We live by mantras like “the quality of your life is determined by the quality of your relationships.” These wise words by Harvey Mackay ring true for many reasons anyway: Being generous makes you happy. Generosity, then, doesn’t only make you feel good, but is good for you.
At the receiving end of all this generosity are often other people. They’re the friends, family, girlfriends, boyfriends and the colleagues we decide to invest in; we weigh our happiness against these intangible investments and inadvertently course our self-worth through them. When left unchecked, when we are unable to hit the brakes whether faced with subtle, seemingly harmless forms of compromise or the flat-out shameless generosity on the brink of martyrdom, we chip away at our self-worth. But it all “hurts so good” doesn’t it? To put a pin in your wants and needs to be of service to someone else?
Photos: Sony Pictures Entertainment
For those provoked by the movie stills, here's the complete passage from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love : “But I disappear into the person I love. I am the permeable membrane. If I love you, you can have everything. You can have my time, my devotion, my ass, my money, my family, my dog, my dog’s money, my dog’s time—everything. If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain, I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word), I will protect you from your own insecurity, I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family. I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check. I will give you all this and more, until I get so exhausted and depleted that the only way I can recover my energy is by becoming infatuated with someone else.”
That last bit may not hold true for a lot of people, but perhaps in some way, shape or form, we relate to this kind of devotion and generosity. We differ only in the degree with which we commit to it.
Well, it's time to recommit. it's time to recalibrate life and make yourself part of the equation again. And there's no reason to keep this new set of resolutions a secret. There is no shame in admitting you want to work on yourself for a change. Self-love/self- care is a movement that doesn’t translate into: “I’m the only priority”, but merely says: “hey, I’m my top priority, too.”
Your wellbeing, hopes and dreams are top priority. Put them first (it’s okay to do so). It’s also okay to put your foot down (saying no once in a while is healthy). While we’re at it, put your health first. And treat yourself because you work hard. Be not ashamed to indulge in a little vanity, but steer clear of narcissism always. Be self-sufficient but not self-serving, self-aware but not self-important. Lastly, work on yourself by yourself for yourself.
When the New Year comes around, keep these resolutions in mind. We can all subscribe to these if we’re talking more self-love and self-care in 2018.
#1: Resolve to follow through with the promises you make yourself.
“People with good intentions make promises, but people with good character keep them.”
#2: Resolve to pick your battles.
The goal in 2018 is to be an unproblematic queen (or king) thriving in the prime of your life. And that only happens when you realize that not every bothersome thing is worth your time, effort and definitely not worth the argument. In 2018, let go of petty tendencies. You don't need that kind of stress in your life.
#3: Resolve to read more books.
Take on a reading challenge or perhaps resolve to read one new book a month. You can also choose revisit the books you started before but never finished.
#4: Resolve to invest in reasonable skincare.
It’s the only face you’ve got and it’s what you present to the world.
#5: Resolve to let go of revenge.
If hate is what motivates, you don’t win.
#6: Resolve to create a pampering ritual you’ll actually commit to.
Be it an at-home massage service, spa day or mani-pedi once every two weeks.
#7: Resolve to recognize which relationships are for keeps.
Which ones actually add value to your life?
#8: Resolve to rid your life of things you can obtain in an instant.
Instant noodles included…no, really. Could this be the year you do your body a favor and give up fast/instant food? On a general note: anything that you obtain get easily, you can lose just easily, so be wary of get-rich- quick schemes, crash diets and the like.
#9: Resolve to use your voice.
“There are two kinds of evil people in this world. People who do evil stuff and people who see evil stuff being done and don't try to stop it.” A great place to start is using your voice. And yes, we just quoted Janis Ian from Mean Girls.
#10: But also resolve to filter what you say.
“Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”—Mahatma Gandhi
#11: Resolve to be kind.
Choose kindness even when it’s the hardest thing to do. And in line with self-care, you may be your own worst critic, but be kind to yourself. Harness the power of self-awareness to consciously filter out cruel, judgmental self-talk.
#12: Resolve to quit a vice.
Be it quitting cold turkey or deciding to grab a drink only when there is a legitimate reason to celebrate.
#13: Resolve to accept the questions.
“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”—Rainer Maria Rilke
Hey, 2018’s looking like your year already.
Art Alexandra Lara