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03/19/2010

Am I Selfish? You bet.

10733372 I think that “selfish” is one giant word that many moms tend of hold over our heads like some kind of hammer with which we pound ourselves.

Maybe it's something that only I do...but I don't think so.

Selfishness has been a big no-no for me since I was little girl. Somewhere along the line it was made clear to me that it's a really bad thing to look out for my needs first or to ask for too much.

When I became a mom, all of those lessons morphed into something even bigger and more powerful. After all, I had one and then, 4 years later, another precious baby and both of them needed me.

How they needed me!

But the downside to working so hard NOT to be selfish is that I tended to go the other direction.

You might know the direction that I'm talking about-- the so-called selfless martyr (using the term “martyr” in a loose sense here.)

This is the state in which, as a mom, I tended to nurture and care for everyone else first and me last (if there was anything leftover). Of course, this was all done out of love and a sense of wanting to be there for my kids and my husband.

I still enjoy being a presence of support for my family-- I want to “be there” for them.

In the past that “being there” for my family tended to be my main event. It was my raison d'etre. For me, this proved tricky and troublesome.

I'd inevitably reach a point where I'd feel exhausted and overwhelmed and it was then that resentment and martyrdom would come out full force.

This often took the shape of the stereotypical guilt-inducing mom's motto: “...after all I've done for you.”

In the past years I've begun to re-frame the whole notion of selfishness.

I am beginning to see that to take care of my own needs and nurture myself first actually allows me to more fully and joyfully “be there” for my family. I actually seem to be able to give more freely and energetically when I am taking the time for me.

The lack perception that there is only so much of me to go around is less prominent when I am really listening to what I need and want and I honor what I hear.

This new way of looking at selfishness has opened doors for me and it's certainly improved my relationships with my kids and husband.

Yes, of course, there are times in which I fall back into that martyred mom pattern. But when I notice it, I remind myself that everyone truly wins when I am selfish.
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This is an original Ohio Moms Blog post.

Amy Phillips-Gary is a personal growth coach and writes relationship and self improvement content for various internet sites including Personal Growth Planet. You can read her weekly blog at the Personal Growth Planet Blog.

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