Julia Fourie | Life Coach Cape Town

Life Coaching Tip: If I Think Of Myself First, Will Everyone Think I Am Selfish And Uncaring?

Julia Fourie, Life Coach, Cape Town

April 20 2018

As a Life Coach I am often made aware of fundamental questions that we all find ourselves struggling with. Things like if you choose a career that pays less but its what you have always wanted to do – what does that say about your responsibilities to your family – you will have less money – what should you do? You want to go on holiday or even to a dinner without your kids – what does this say about you – could it be that you would be teaching your children the importance of taking care of yourself resulting in them being more equipped to do this.

These belief impacts our world, how we interact in it, what we expect form ourselves and others and how we relate to everything that touches our lives. Lets explore this fundamental question on “I can’t think of myself first that would be selfish”. I recently came across this African Proverb that could help us to explore this further.

A juicy bone is useless to a dog with no teeth.

What a simple way of looking at it in that it cuts right to the chase of the matter. At the end of the day you are useless to others if you haven’t taken care of yourself to the point that you could become useless to yourself as the dog in this sorry tale. Ive often used the analogy of the fire with my clients – lets think of you as the fire. A fire in a cabin in the middle of the mountains on a snowy evening is central to the people their. It brings them warmth, food that they might be cooking on it, marshmallows that they are roasting, the sounds and sights from the fire itself. However, if the fire isn’t replenished with wood then it will burn out – and this is much like what we tend to do – we often put ourselves last – to the moment when there is no more fuel and we burn out, break down.

Lets take this analogy to the other side, if we continuously as the fire keep on adding wood – we might very well burn the cabin down or chase the people away as it won’t be comfortable for them anymore. This speaks to the points of extreme – the magic in life is knowing the extremes and living between them not on the ends of it.

The place between extremes holds a thousand colours of a rainbow, you have so many choices, different depths to choose. You could increase the wood, add a few logs, or add a few sticks or wait till you only have a few logs burning then perhaps 2 and then only add. Taking this back to the concept of being selfish – so do you go on holiday for the whole year and leave your kids with someone else – probably not – do you go for a dinner often – probably – a holiday, why not? A couple of hours to an event by yourself? Your kids having a sleep over by their friends place? There are myriads of ways to think of yourself and keep that fire burning.

So to answer the question of being selfish, a thought comes to mind, that isn’t it selfish not to think of yourself? What good would you be in the cold cabin if your fire burnt out? So not only is it critical to keeping your essence alive yourself you can also see it as thinking of others if you take care of yourself too.

The truth of the matter is if you don’t know how to take care of yourself then you will struggle to know how to take care of others. Learning from yourself and listening to your needs helps you understand and listen to the needs of others and realising that they can be different.

Try out this simple technique to help you decide on if you are becoming a raging fire or about to burnout!

1. Bring to mind something that you gave up / didn’t do. It doesn’t have to be something huge like a career, it could literally be a night out, not buying something for yourself – perhaps a good pair of running shoes versus the crappy ones 🙂

2. What experience did you miss by not pursuing that option? How would that experience have made you feel?

3. Who benefited from you not pursuing that option?

4. If you continue with this pattern, what will the impact be on you?

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