Do you feel guilty when you fail to do a favor for your family or peers, or don’t meet their expectations? Are you the type who puts the happiness of others before your own? However noble it seems, it may not always be the best thing to do. There are times when you need to put yourself first, before you even think of helping other people. You’re not being selfish—you just need to invest in you, so you’ll have more to give to others.
The world can be demanding. Every day we deal with expectations from our family, peers, society and the workplace. “At every certain milestone, [like when you’re] 20, 25, 30 [or] 35, people have expectations, or society has expectations of you: ‘Uy! 35 ka na, bakit single ka pa?’ ‘Wala ka pang kotse 35 ka na?’ People are judging, and there’s so much pressure. … and when there’s so [many] opinions from the outside world, sometimes you get confused as to what your values are,” explains Pia Acevedo, life coach and CEO of One Core.
Dwelling on these pressures can corrupt our self-worth and allow our insecurity to creep in. “A lot of the times, adults will feed off of what … other people think about [them]. ‘Ano kaya ’yung iniisip o sinasabi ng mga tao tungkol sa ‘kin?’” relates Acevedo. “[This] is a slippery slope. It’s very dangerous if you value what other people think of you so much so that you are making your life decisions based on that. You’re never [going to] live your life,” she warns.
Acevedo remarks, “That’s why a lot of people … go through midlife crisis, because they realize time has passed and they weren’t making the decisions that they wanted to make.” Because their self-worth isn’t strong enough to withstand the pressure that society puts on them, these people spend their lives trying to meet other’s expectations and measure up to them.
Investing in yourself
Now that realization is sinking in, what you may ask next is: How do I improve my self-worth? And how can improving my self-worth be beneficial for others?
Acevedo says it’s very important for people to have alone time that revolves around activities they can do solo. Activities done on your own ground you and help you get to know yourself better, discover your strengths and weaknesses, and help you accept who you are. They can also get you through anxiety and insecurity.
Sherrie Bourg Carter, Ph.D. in her article “High Octane Women”, which appeared on psychologytoday.com, affirms, “Solitude gives you an opportunity to discover yourself and find your own voice. When you're a part of a group, you're more likely to go along with what the group is doing or thinking, which isn't always the actions you would take or the decisions you would make if you were on your own.”
Learning a new craft, reading a book, joining individual sports like running, or being in the gym by yourself are among the long list of solo activities that can “hone what we call the value of the individuality—a fundamental ingredient for self-worth, self-esteem, building your career, building good relationships,” Acevedo notes.
“For instance, I have many clients who go back to school … They go on short courses [like culinary school] … because it is enriching for them,” she cites, adding, “When you start doing things for yourself, it’s an investment in your emotional bank account. Then when you give to people, it’s out of an overflow rather than out of a withdrawal, [or a] deficit in your own emotional bank account.”
Both experts advise to make time for the things that you love to do—because when you start investing in yourself, you’ll have something to share with others.
Pia Nazareno-Acevedo has been a performance management coach, entrepreneur and relationship expert. An AB Philosophy graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, she proceeded to do further studies in coaching and mentoring abroad, and graduate studies on Family Ministries from the same university. She is the founder and CEO of Creative Human Resources Group (CHRG); the managing director of The Love Institute; and the CEO of The OneCORE Success Center.
CHRG is an organization with expertise in providing customized solutions that help individuals make better decisions given their own starting points. The OneCORE Success Center which aids individuals in becoming focused and confident decision makers, and The Love Institute which caters to individuals’ relationship needs, are its member organizations. Visit creativehrgroup.com or call (02) 436 4143 for more information.
For more tips on nurturing the self—as well as a quick test to see if you’re on the road to a sure midlife crisis—grab a copy of the February issue of HealthToday, out now in bookstores and newsstands.