There is a misconception in this world that so many of us believe and live by everyday of our lives. That misconception is that to think of ourselves and what is best for us is selfish. Let me clear up that misconception right now. The dictionary (Google) defines the word selfish as: “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.” Note that nowhere in that definition did it say that to do what is best for us personally is a selfish thing. Being selfish is when you are so self-consumed that you don’t care how it affects anyone else around you.
I have come to realize that living in this misconception is part of what has caused me so much grief in dealing with my anxiety disorders. My whole life I have been told that when I defend myself while being repeatedly torn down by another person that I am being selfish because I am not allowing them to treat me the way they were. Sounds silly that I believed that, right? Wrong. So many people allow themselves to be torn down on a daily basis by someone else because they feel that protecting themselves from the hurtful damage words can cause is somehow selfish. This is such a common problem that so many people deal with, myself included. Let me tell you my story.
Growing up I was not allowed to be me. It just didn’t happen. My favorite color was not allowed to be purple. Why? That is not what they wanted. I had to bead necklaces not play with dolls like every other little girl. Why? That is not what they wanted. If I so much as even tried to do what I wanted to do, I was torn down and told why it was a stupid idea. As I have gotten older I began to realize how much I did not like to be in the environment I was in, but I could not see any way out, so I continued to deal with it. Then one day I decided I had had enough and I left. I distanced myself completely from those who caused me harm. I was surprised at how quickly I felt free and able to do what I wanted to do, but that’s when the panic disorder kicked in full gear. Suddenly, I was allowed to be me. That was a scary thought after being told how to be for my entire life. I had multiple panic attacks a day, and they were not small panic attacks. They were painful, so painful, and physically/emotionally exhausting. The trials I went through for the following months are not something I would ever wish on another, and not something I want to experience ever again. It took a really long time to come out of the pain and guilt I experienced. You read that right. I felt guilty. I felt guilty for distancing myself as if I had been selfish enough to tell them that they were treating me badly and I was not going to let them anymore. I felt guilty for trying to protect myself from the abuse I was receiving. I expressed these feelings to my therapist and she asked me one simple question: What did I do that harmed them? Suddenly, it clicked. I had done nothing to harm them, only to protect myself from them harming me. I looked back and realized I had finally come to accept who I was, who I am. That was a pinnacle moment for me in my journey towards healing. Finally realizing that I was free to be me and not what anyone else wanted me to be, I could come out and let the world really know Meghan as she is. Since that moment I have felt myself completely blossom as an individual. I no longer allow people to call me selfish for protecting myself.
If there is one thing I want you to take from this post today, it's that it is okay to be concerned about you. If it is selfish to take some time to take care of yourself then by all means, Go. Be. Selfish. Since I began to allow myself to be selfish I found that my panic attacks decreased to the point of almost no longer existing, I was sleeping better, and I even legitimately smiled. Since I have allowed myself to be selfish I have become truly and genuinely happy. I really hope you will take the time today to allow yourself to be happy with you really are.