• Katie Dodsworth

2019 - the year to be SELFish

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

After many, many conversations with people through work about their wellbeing, happiness and health-related choices, I have come to the conclusion that the happiest, healthiest people are those who are the most SELFish. But that isn’t a typo. I don’t mean selfish in that they are all out for themselves at others’ expense. I mean they possess three important, self-related skills:

  • Self-awareness

  • Self-compassion

  • Self-confidence

Self-awareness is required to understand what we need, physically and emotionally at any given time.

To be able to recognises our individual early warning signs that things are getting a bit much, the balance isn’t right or we’re sliding into a dip and to know what we need to get us back on track. Too many people brush off these early warning signals for too long until they escalate into more serious problems. But if we imagine wellbeing (mental and physical) to be like a mountain, then it is obvious that it is easier to climb back up to the top if we have only slipped a ledge or two down, than if we have let ourselves slide all the way to the bottom. People who are good at maintaining their health and happiness tend to know themselves pretty well. They pay attention to what they need and know what boosts them and helps them to recover.

Self-compassion is about caring enough about ourselves to take that action and to believe that our own needs are as important as others’.

It is all very well to be aware that we are exhausted/stressed/sad/lonely, but if we tell ourselves that we should just put up with it and carry on because everyone else is/other people need me to/it would be weak not to/”me time” is indulgent/my kids have to come first etc etc (insert own self-critical belief) then we won’t give ourselves permission to do anything about it or to allow ourselves be helped – and we continue to slide down that mountain. But that narrative can be changed to something that is kinder to yourself. Think about the type of partner/parent/friend etc you are/you want to be – are you closer to that when you are happy and healthy or when your wellbeing is poor? If you were advising someone you loved who was feeling like you are feeling, would you tell them to put up with it/think of everyone else first/get over it or would you advise them to look after themselves better?

Self-confidence is about having the courage to make choices that may go against the grain a little bit.

For example:

  • To stop working unsustainable hours; even if that means a few funny looks when you actually take a lunch break or leave work at a reasonable time.

  • To put your child in a creche when you aren’t working to go to the gym or just get a break. Or to leave the children behind (with someone, obviously!) and go away for the weekend with your partner or friends.

  • To request to work flexibly even if you aren’t a mother in order to pursue a hobby that fulfils you/to be a father that has more time with his children.

  • To shun the habitual fry-ups/perpetual cake/takeaway lunches at your workplace in favour of something more healthy

  • To simply say no occasionally to demands put upon you

It is about being strong enough to do what is right for you – no matter what others think or say about that (or more likely what you worry they might think or say!).

So how strong is your SELFish tripod? Where could you build your SELFishness for a happier, healthier you this year?

Please get in touch if you would be interested in wellbeing training or coaching – or if you have personal tips and stories to share on how SELFishness affects you.

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