Amy Rees Anderson

Sometimes The Unselfish Thing Is To Be Selfish

My parents did an amazing job of instilling the desire in me to serve others, to focus outward, to be unselfish.  But what I’m beginning to recognize recently is that sometimes the most unselfish thing we can do is be a little bit selfish…Let me explain:

You see, it’s easy for me to take care of other people. What’s never been easy for me is taking time out to take care of myself.  All my life I’ve considered taking care of myself to be selfish and taking care of others to be unselfish, so I’ve focused the bulk of my time and attention on helping others. But what I am finally coming to realize is that if I want to be around to take care of others I had better start taking care of myself. 

To illustrate let me ask a few questions that were recently posed to me:  When is the last time you went to your doctor to get a checkup? Have you even taken the time to go get a flu shot yet? When did you last see your dentist?  When was your last eye exam?  Ladies, when was your last mammogram?….I can tell you what my answers to those questions was when I was asked them a few weeks ago – Far too long ago, no, forever ago, don’t remember, not sure…..why….because taking time for those things seemed selfish when there are so many things I need to do for other people that I haven’t gotten to yet so how can I justify taking time out for me?

But the reality is that if we don’t take the time to take better care of ourselves we may not be around or able to take care of the others at all.  Which means if we really want to be unselfish we have to take a little time out here and there to be selfish and make sure we are healthy and whole as we can be.

“When you take care of yourself, you are saying to you loved ones, ‘I love you enough to want to be my best for you.’” – unknown

This week I’m trying to do better at being selfish and take care of myself so I can be around for years to come so I can do a lot more unselfish things for others. Today I spent almost five hours at the dentist office getting old fillings filled. And I can honestly say it was PAINFUL being selfish today…literally…my mouth is killing me tonight! But its needed to get done for far too long…

The good news is that after my appointment was over I still made time to be unselfishness by driving two hours up and back to Utah State University to do a mentoring session with the girls in the Amy Rees Anderson Entrepreneurs Program at the CGO . We spent a few hours talking about goal posters, life balance, making tough decisions, keeping perspective, etc.  And let me tell you = that was WAY more fun than being in a dental chair!

It might feel better to be unselfish, but remember that sometimes the most unselfish thing to do is to be a little selfish and take care of YOU!

~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the newly released book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )

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