Why It's Healthy to Put Yourself First: Reduce Stress with Guilt-Free Pampering

Making your own needs a priority isn't just satisfying for the soul -- it also helps you decrease stress and live your dreams.
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Healthy Selfishness

Healthy selfishness is an important ingredient in living a full life, and its presence -- or lack of it -- can be felt in both the biggest issues as well as the smallest details. Actually, if you want to know the truth about a couple's relationship, examine their bathroom. Whose stuff gets more territory or the most convenient space? Does the couple share towels, razors, and toothbrushes? Who gets more time in there, and whose schedule takes priority?

If you want some insight into yourself, your bathroom habits will reveal that as well. How much time do you take in the shower or tub? Do you take care of your kids while you're in the bathroom? Do you feel compelled to answer the phone in there, too? Do you wish you had more time to relax, all alone, behind a closed door?

Bathrooms are among the few remaining sanctuaries in our daily lives. They offer us a respite from interaction and stress and even have the potential to provide emotional and spiritual replenishment. In this sense bathrooms make a good metaphor for the pleasures of healthy selfishness -- the commonsense approach to getting what you deserve out of life without feeling guilty. Healthy selfishness is a way of thinking and acting in which there is a deep appreciation and concern for yourself. It includes a willingness to respect your own feelings, desires, and needs as well as to trust your knowledge, ability, and experience. Healthy selfishness involves accepting your weaknesses and imperfections without beating yourself up. It means nurturing yourself and loving yourself unconditionally. In a practical sense, it means doing such things as resting when you're tired or asking for emotional support without apology.

Many psychologists see healthy selfishness as a higher level of mental function that can help you reach your full potential. People who practice healthy selfishness have a zest for living, a joy that comes from savoring one's accomplishments. Healthy selfishness opens the door to a life of freedom -- freedom from being ruled by the opinions and demands of others as well as freedom from the voices in your own mind, often left over from childhood, that judge and blame you relentlessly.

Continued on page 2:  The Cost of Self-Denial


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