Space To Be You – why it’s important in the longterm to make sure you’re giving yourself the time and space you need amidst all of life’s demands.

1This article is about coming back to you. In the age that we live in, filled with the constant distraction of emails, messages and the media ,on top of the existing demands of our ever expanding roles on the professional and personal front – it is easy for us to forget to make time for ourselves. We live in a time where so many things ( and all at the same moment) are possible – you can be watching the news on your new flatscreen tv, while looking at your Facebook feed on you computer and responding to an incoming msg from a friend on whatsapp all at the same time.  Infact, for many of us, I would say this kind of multi-tasking when it comes to technological inter-facing , is not uncommon. On top of this – we have jobs , side-businesses or projects to manage , multiple hobbies, sprawling social networks, family relationships and both personal and professional events to constantly juggle. Thats a lot and certainly enough to make it difficult to prioritise personal space.

This idea about having ‘space just to be me’ , for me in particular, became the most apparent when my daughter was born a year and half ago. Anyone who has had a child will know how time consuming this new little miracle can be , especially with new borns – and how infact at times it can feel like you have little to no time at all for yourself. And indeed, it is the loss of this space to be ourselves or life as we use to know – a space that in today’s world we have become more determined than ever to define and carve out for ourselves-   , which I think may be responsible , in part, for the increasing incidence of post-natal depression we are currently seeing amongst women today. Having said that , when children – or even a new partner for that matter – enters into the picture, the skill I am continuing to learn is not just around making sure I create space for me by structuring measurable time out for myself , but actually goes beyond that. I think it often becomes about being ok to carve out emotional and blessedly guilt-free space just to come back to me.

This is a space where I am truly present with myself , my needs and most importantly, compassionate to myself about the distance and time-out I am taking from others in this moment. When I was doing my post-graduate research on marriage and family therapy, my supervisor and mentor, Dr Lee Wai Yung, use to say that the most central aspect of any relationship was to learn ‘ how we can be close but also distant’. I didn’t realise how much wisdom those words actually held at the time, but the more that I see clients today who come into therapy to discuss issues around their intimate relationships, and I reflect on my own life, the more I see the truth and depth to what she was saying at the time.

In many cultures, space to be ourselves can often be perceived as ‘selfish’ or ‘self-centred’. However, from a psychological and/or developmental perspective, providing ourselves and our children with the emotional space to just be ourselves/themselves is central to the cultivation and maintenance of personal wellbeing. Being too close, too much of the time can infact be stifling not only to personal growth , but also our own self-confidence and sense of security.  When we allow ourselves the space to do our own thing, we give ourselves the gift of self-renewal and more long-term sustainability around continuing to give more to others around us. We also show our children that it’s ok to sometimes be distant too and give them permission to feel empowered in their own space with themselves. I teach my clients, in therapy, that time for themselves is not about being ‘self-centred’ but ‘about developing more of a ‘self-focus’ and how no matter what is going on in their lives , it is almost important to remain mindful that they are nurturing and ‘keeping the well full’ when it comes to making this time for themselves. If you cannot provide this for yourself first and foremost, ultimately there is no way , in the longterm, that you will be able to support and nurture those around you that you love and care for ( without burning out or feeling resentful at some point at least!). So the next time you feel guilty for taking a little time out from your child to indulge in a yoga session or cup of coffee with friends, do a little reality check around what you’ve just read here and give yourself permission to let go of that guilt and embrace that vital gift of space you’ve just given yourself. Your child will thank you, in more than one way, in the long run.

To find out more on how to cultivate space to just be you and set healthier emotional boundaries in your relationships, contact Anoushka at 

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