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Cultivating a “Self”-Centered Life

By Keri Nola, LMHC

I think most of us are familiar with the common analogy used during the airplane safety talk that says something like: “Parents, in the event of an emergency, put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then on your child.”

The question is do we actually apply this sentiment to our everyday lives?  How often are we agreeing to help another person when we have yet to help ourselves? This is a topic I help my clients explore on a regular basis (and truthfully often visit for myself as well). Aren’t we trained to believe being self-centered is a bad thing? I think many of us would rather be accused of any number of things before being called self-centered, which we likely feel implies something painfully horrific. Would you agree?

It’s been a long journey, and I am here to come out of the closet as a self- care junkie – a new approach to being “self”-centered. Hi my name is Keri and I am “self”-centered. There, I said it. I make it a priority to take care of me first so that when I commit to supporting others, I know I will be able to be fully present and available in my relationships with them.

Curious about how you can shift your perspective on the definition of “self”-centered and cultivate a lifestyle that decreases resentment and increases joy? Here are some tips for cultivating “self” centered living:

1. Decide to choose YOU – Realize others are generally going to take what they can get from you, so if you need a break, YOU have to be the one to take it. This includes our roles as partners, parents, friends, siblings, employees, family members, etc. Choosing YOU is one of the kindest things you can do for your relationships because it allows you to show up completely when you agree to do so.

2. Remember YOU are worth taking care of – Most of our caretaking behaviors originate from our fear of being unworthy of such compassion and peace. When we remember our worth, we make choices congruent with this belief, and we choose ourselves with ease.

3. Practice saying NO – Did you know that “No” is a complete sentence? Yup! It doesn’t require fluff or justification. Just give yourself permission to answer with “No” when that is your authentic response to a request.

4. Prepare for attempted guilt trips – Our loved ones are used to us interacting with them the way we always have. When we make a change like becoming more “self”-centered, it shifts the dynamic of our relationships and people often consciously or unconsciously make attempts to get us to shift back to how it’s always been. Be aware of this possibility and continue to give yourself permission to choose you. When you come up against resistance from others, I recommend saying something like, “I’m sorry you’re having a hard time with my decision to take care of myself in this way right now. Our relationship is very important to me so I am committed to being honest about what I am and am not able to do, as you make requests of me.”

5. Remember the rewards. Being “self”-centered has the potential to generate tremendous rewards within ourselves and our relationships. When we say “yes,” but mean “no,” that energy blocks the flow of genuine love between us and welcomes resentment. So when it gets hard to choose yourself versus someone else’s needs, remember self-sacrifice is actually one of the least compassionate things we can do in a relationship. It may feel good in the moment, but it is a breeding ground for disconnection and inauthentic relating in the long run.

Here’s to stepping out of our “self”-centered closets and recommitting to living authentically!

Keri Nola is author of “A Year on Your Path to Growth: Daily Inspirations to Reconnect with Your Soul,” and founder of Path to Growth LLC, a Central Florida-based integrative healing center that blends traditional and holistic techniques for journeys to peace. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Nola provides psychotherapy and facilitates therapeutic retreats for those seeking to reconnect with their inner wisdom, particularly after trauma or loss. She also offers heart-inspired business consultations for healthcare professionals. For more information visit www.pathtogrowth.com, on Facebook and Twitter @pathtogrowth.

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