Take Time For Yourself

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One of the reasons I love yoga as a tool to increase well-being is that it gives you a chance to be completely self-centered every day. When you are on the mat you are there for yourself and you know it. Whatever responsibilities are on your plate care of can wait; for that hour it’s all about you. Especially if you are in a helping profession it’s essential to find some socially sanctioned selfish activities if you want to keep from burning out.

Focusing on yourself gets a bad rap in our culture, probably because people tend to lump self-love and greed into the same category even though they are completely different entities As Erich Fromm aptly points out, “Selfish persons are incapable of loving others, but they are not capable of loving themselves either.” The greedy attitude is precisely the outcome of not knowing how to take care of yourself, not the outcome of putting yourself at the center of your life.

If you can find some hobby or activity that is for you and you lone, and we recommend yoga highly for this end, you’ll paradoxically find yourself  more giving and outward focused in the rest of your life because you’ll feel like you’re already getting your needs met. You won’t unconsciously try to get them met through other channels.

I remember a scene from ‘Aspen Extreme’ where Dexter is watching a self-help guru on the television who says “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results.” Yet this is how many of us structure our lives when it comes to getting our existential needs met, hoping that if we just keep taking from everyone and everything around us we’ll somehow become happy, but we never do, and we call our attempts ‘trying to get ahead’.

Better to accept that the best way to be generous and altruistic is to include yourself as a person who deserves your generosity and altruism, to set up your life in such a way that some of your activities are purposefully designed to be just for you and no one else. These types of activities recharge the psychic batteries and leave you in a really good position to expend your energy in prosocial ways. Don’t feel bad about taking time for yourself. Feel proud of it. Just make sure you are doing it on purpose with the goal of having the energy to be there for the other important people and causes in your life too.