One of my clients told me that she felt selfish for wanting to take time to focus on her life—to stop and re-evaluate what she’s done, where she’s headed, what gifts she has, what dreams she carries, and what she should do next with her life.
My first reaction was, “No, no, no, that’s not at all selfish.” I didn’t say that … because where she is, is where she is. But I did invite her to consider the alternative—continuing her journey with no thought to what fit or didn’t fit for her anymore.
I’ve been in that place myself. Have you? I won’t forget my inner struggles following my divorce—when I first began to think about what I wanted and what I should do next. I had spent so many years thinking about what my husband and children wanted and needed, and what others in my life and in my community needed. And I really had no idea what I wanted.
Guilt—and feeling selfish
Furthermore, I felt extremely selfish (and guilty) for taking time to focus on my wants and needs—on my hopes and dreams. It’s easy for us as women to hear that message: Put others first. Put your own needs on the back burner. After all, that’s more “feminine,” we’ve perhaps been told.
I needed time—and the help of others—to work through that guilt, and dump it. How grateful I am that I took the time to struggle with that feeling—and that I moved ahead to express my hopes and dreams. A side benefit: My three sons also benefited from me focusing on my wants and needs; that meant they had a mother who was happy and fulfilled, a mother who served as an even better role model for them.
What words of wisdom do you have for women who feel guilty or selfish for tending to their own needs and nourishing their own dreams? I’d love to hear your experiences and ideas in the Comment box below.