Why its not selfish to choose yourself

18 October, 2021 / words by user

Written by Cloé Vaz-Wiggins

Image @Ayshld

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

I remember when I first heard this quote, probably watching the Oprah show. It was like a light bulb had gone off. I could clearly see an empty cup trying to pour into something else; in the form of support, advice, company, help and all the other things I used to squeeze out of myself. I’ve been repeating it every time I feel my cup getting depleted and still instinctively putting others before myself. 

I also repeat it often, to remind myself that if my cup is not full, or overflowing (preferably), I’m not actually contributing and adding to someone else’s. But why does it feel so unnatural to choose ourselves first? Why do we feel like we have to keep pouring? Why does taking some time to fill your own cup feels like such a statement? Have you ever heard some comments along the lines of… “You’ve changed so much! You’re so radical!  You think you’re better than everyone else!” I’m not sure about you, but once I started unapologetically choosing myself, I heard a few of those and for a second there, man… it didn’t feel good. I started wondering, am I being radical?

Is me changing really such a bad thing? And in conscience, I knew none of those things were true. Change is good, learning new ways and improving old ones is good, growing is always a good thing. 

I’m not sure if I’m the only one that’s been pondering about these questions and making these self-adjustments but digging deeper, I’ve realised there’s huge power in asking them and taking that narrative back. Being aware of it and understanding that we’ve all been programmed to feel and think this way will also be helpful when you take the comments and reactions of the people around you personally, so don’t. Stay focused on why you’ve changed, why you’re moving differently and why you decided to create this new lane for yourself. Because it’s your journey, you go at it alone, you do the best you can and no one, no matter how close they are, can really know and understand why you needed to shift certain things.

It’s funny that for so long we’ve been encouraged to keep going until we can’t anymore. We all cope, we all find a way until one day, in one form or the other: we all just need a second. Burnout doesn’t happen overnight, ironically the busier we get the more we need time for ourselves. To recharge, to think, to find peace. It’s a consistent effort and mindset shift you must put in place. And it doesn’t have to be a time consuming or daunting task. Sure, we can list activities that consistently taken on will ensure it, but let’s face it, before we get to the scheduling and planning, we need to understand that the tricky part, the balancing act between choosing ourselves and putting ourselves first is consistent conscious awareness.

It’s understanding our own limitations, having the ability to listen to what our bodies are telling us, the sensibility to tap in and know when to slow down, know when to remove ourselves from certain situations, recognise when toxic relationships are not adding to our lives, deciding what we’re putting into our bodies and how are we creating space for all parts of us: mind, body and soul. But most importantly it’s about shedding the guilt most of us feel when we decide to take action and implement all of those. 

So, choose yourself, whole heartedly, keep choosing yourself and not for one second feel guilty about it. 

Take your time, be kind and gracious to your decision and ask: who are you really being selfish to, if you don’t choose yourself?

Because remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.




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