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21 December 2011

Becoming selfish

Like so many women in the world today, I was raised to be a nurturer. I feel a deep-seated (or is it deep-seeded?) urge to take care of those around me which is impossible to repress. I put other people's needs and wants before my own, even when it leaves me at a disadvantage. It's who I am and who I have always been. Whenever I try to put myself first, I feel overwhelming pangs of guilt and selfishness. I feel responsible for other people's happiness. And, while I know that this is unrealistic and often irrational (hours in counseling has given me this insight), it is hard (impossible?) to change that feeling. (Although, all that counseling has made me realize that this is why I have such high expectations for those around me. I expect all people to act like I do ... putting others first. And, when they don't, I'm easily disappointed.)

But I need to. I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself. My rational brain knows that I cannot be responsible for anyone else's happiness but my own, but my emotional center feels guilt and devastation whenever I am the cause (or I view myself as the cause) of someone else's unhappiness. Even when things out of my control make others unhappy, I still feel guilt and responsibility. I know that it's not healthy, but I can't seem to get out of this vicious cycle. My heart always equates selfishness with taking care of yourself even though my brain knows that one must be personally happy and complete to even have the potential of making others happy.

But how does one learn to be selfish? And that it's okay to be selfish to some degree? How do I learn to take care of my own needs before others without feeling such overwhelming guilt? I need to learn to compartmentalize my emotions better, but I don't know how to do that. And I need to. It's more of a self-preservation thing at this point.
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