Monday, August 2, 2021

Q&A with Michelle Elman




Michelle Elman is the author of the new book The Joy of Being Selfish: Why You Need Boundaries and How To Set Them!. She also has written the book Am I Ugly?, and is a speaker and life coach based in London.


Q: What inspired you to write The Joy of Being Selfish?


A: Boundaries has been the single greatest tool that has changed my life personally. As well as being a life coach myself, I also go to a life coach and out of everything I have learned, learning how to set boundaries changed my life the most.


I had been speaking about it online for two years, mainly because I loved talking about boundaries and everything I was learning and it was upon sharing it that I was frequently asked for a resource to help them learn the same lessons.


Since I learned it from a person and not a resource, I realised this resource didn't exist and when I came across the books that did exist on boundaries, I found that majority I disagreed with and often they included diet culture or religion and as Toni Morrison says “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”


Q: How do you define the idea of selfishness, and what do you think are some of the most common perceptions and misperceptions about it?


A: The dictionary definition of the word selfish is seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure or wellbeing without regard for others and most people when they consider the word focus on the last part of that sentence "without regard for others" and that's why it gets its negative connotations.


We all can get on board with self-love and self-care but the problem is if you still regard others in making those decisions there will never be any time and energy left for you to actually do any self-care.


What people don't realise is you do actually need to disregard other people's needs in order to put yourself on the top of your priority list. It's not optional, it's compulsory. For example, if you wanted to have a proper weekend, you need to disregard your boss's need to be able to contact you at all hours of the day.


Q: Your book's dedication reads, "For every woman who has been treated badly and wondered whether you deserved it--you don't." What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: That they deserve boundaries and you aren't a bad person for looking after yourself, standing up for yourself and you deserve to be treated better. So often when a person treats us badly, we internalise it and think it's an indication of our self-worth and I really hope my book squashes this idea


Q: What impact did writing the book have on you?


A: It made me realise how much I have grown. Especially writing the last chapter made me really realise that boundaries are second nature to me now.


Initially when I pitched this book to my agent, I suggested it as a slimline book because I didn't think there was much I had to say but actually sitting down to write it, I quickly realised how wrong I was. The 70,000 words poured out of me and I was a little mad to think that it could fit in 10,000 words. 


Q: What are you working on now?


A: At the moment I am largely working on my podcast In All Honesty and really enjoying being able to create a format where I can life coach my followers with the voicenotes they send in.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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