Are You Selfish or Selfless?

selfless

For many selfish is a bad word with bad connotations.  For some it is a sin to be selfish.  Unfortunately many have labeled most forms of self-care as selfish and have trouble distinguishing when it is okay to think about their own needs.  Some have swung to the opposite of selfish and tend to be selfless.  These people believe that denial of the self is a good and pure way of living.  Are these our only two options:  Selfish or selfless?

I want to take a moment and create some sort of working definition of these two words.  This will better help you decide if you really are selfish and if you really want to be selfless.

An example of a selfish act would be if you have eaten two pieces of pie already and your coworker has not had any and there is only one piece left.  Do you eat it anyway or let your coworker have it?  Eating your third piece while she has not had one is an example of being selfish.  My I-phone gives me this definition of selfish, “(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”  Is this how you function the majority of time?  We all can be selfish sometimes (it is part of our human nature) however, now that you read this example of selfish you probably aren’t as selfish as you think.

What about being selfless? The word somewhat defines itself.  In short, taking no consideration for yourself; putting others and their needs above your own; denying the self.  Many of us have been taught the importance of thinking of and caring for others.  As a mother I know this well.  There is nothing wrong with considering other’s needs.  The issue with this way of functioning is when one avoids their own self in the name of caring for others.  If this self-avoidance continues over a long period of time it can cause serious emotional, physical and spiritual damage to the person.

What if you we could find a balance; a way that allows you to care for others and still care for yourself?  The word I have been using for this is self-full.

This is a version of you that knows when to say yes to helping others, when to say no, and when to say yes to your needs.  This individual both gives at times and is also able to receive from others.  A person that knows it is okay to fulfill her needs in order to best help others.  This person is aware of their physical, emotional and spiritual needs and takes responsibility for meeting them.  She functions from a place of fullness not emptiness.  Her giving is free of obligation and comes from a full heart.

My hope is that those of you who have struggled with prioritizing yourself will learn to be more comfortable thinking of what you think, feel, need and want.  I understand there are people who are very well versed with thinking of themselves.  I am speaking to those who know you have been neglecting yourself for too long.  Learn to believe that you deserve your time and attention.  And know that learning to be more self-full will allow both you and the other to benefit.  In my field we call that a win-win situation!

 

 

 

I Don’t Want to Eat My Green Beans!

vegtables
Growing up I distinctly remember my mother trying to feed me those awful vegetables. I didn’t do too well with her canned string beans or cooked carrots. Of course she explained to me how important it was for me to eat my vegetables because they have lots of vitamins and nutrition that I needed. Unfortunately her reasoning did not convince me to eat what she said was good for me.

This got me to thinking about our lives as adults and how many things we know are good for us to do, yet we don’t choose to do them. I am assuming now that we are adults that most of us understand how important it is to eat our vegetables. The majority of us logically know about many other things that are also very important to our health yet for many you don’t comply with what you know to be good for you.

Today I want to focus on your physical health and a few areas that you may struggle with doing what is good for you. An important task for us all is to attend yearly physical check-ups and other recommended preventative procedures. Although I do not want to be nor mean to be sexist, I will admit that the majority of female clients, friends, acquaintances that I have are prudent about the need to attend their yearly check-ups and take the time to attend these appointments. I am sure there are exceptions to this and for these women I encourage you to consider what may be keeping you from taking care of and responsibility for your physical health.

Many of the men I know personally, or my friends’ husbands or clients seem to have some resistance to taking time for regular yearly physicals. This is of course not true for all men, but I have witnessed it often. If you are one of these men that don’t usually see a doctor I plead with you to reconsider. Ask yourself what is stopping you. Remind yourself that prevention is always best and it is a good thing when the doctor tells you all is well!

Another essential area is our eating habits. We all know how important it is to give our bodies the fuel it needs to work most effectively. In this area I hear a lot of “I know I should but…” comments. What makes this area so hard for you? Are you eating fast food often? Buying frozen food to pop in the microwave? How is it that for so many the vehicle that moves us about in this world is often treated so badly; even neglected?

Exercise is also something that is good for us. Regular exercise is good at any age and even more important as we age. Exercise helps us cardiovascularly; assists us in keeping our muscle tone; helps our metabolism; and can improve mood. I understand that many of us have excellent reasons why it is hard to fit this into our lives. Life is very hectic. However, exercise is also good for you and needs to be incorporated into your lifestyle.

I hope that this blog today will more motivate you to take responsibility for your body overall. You are given this one body to move about on this earth and it is your job to take care of that body. The healthier your body is the better you will feel in the other areas of your life. Ignoring your body puts you at great risk of suffering unnecessarily.

What Does It Mean To Be Spiritual?

spirituality
In my book I describe something called The Circle of Life, which describes various areas of our lives that are important and need to be in balance. One area is one’s Spiritual Life. This aspect of the circle entails seeking your highest level of spiritual truth and growth. For many of us this area is associated with our religious life. That certainly can be a big part of this piece. However, I want to broaden that view. According to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, spiritual can mean “of or relating to sacred matters; ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal; relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit; concerned with religious values.” There were several more definitions too. You can see that spiritual life is more than just the church we attend.

Abraham Maslow created a concept called self-actualization. He spoke of self-actualization as a person’s innate need. Self-actualization, he proposed, is our need for the full development of our potentialities. I believe this is our highest level of spiritual growth. Developing our spiritual self involves deepening our self-knowledge and taking time to cultivate our creative selves. Igniting your creative potentials opens you up to new learnings and insights. This involves becoming more spontaneous in your life. This will mean something different to each of you.

In her book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Julia Cameron states, “Creativity is an experience-to my eye, a spiritual experience. It does not matter which way you think of it: creativity leading to spirituality or spirituality leading to creativity. In fact, I do not make a distinction between the two.” I love this view that the more we are each aware of our creative selves the more potential we have to reach our fullest spiritual being.

If many of the other areas of our life are out of balance, it is often hard to have a sound spiritual self. On the flip side, if we have a firmly developed spiritual self, it can help us survive various crises in the other areas. What does your spiritual life mean to you?

Don’t Succumb To The Darkness!

Beacon of Light
It seems so many people are feeling dissatisfied in their lives. We hear it daily on the many newscasts about individuals making so many negative choices: from dishonesty, to addictions, to murders, to suicides etc. More so, we hear it closer to home, such as in our neighborhoods, workplaces and in our social situations. And, many of you reading this are struggling with general dissatisfaction and discouragement.

When we feel this way we tend to make decisions that hurt us in one way or another. What can we do to feel more satisfied and in control of our lives? Well, for starters, since we cannot control all the external events that occur, let’s start with an aspect we can do something about: ourselves! This is one area you DO have the power to effect positive change!

One area you can have an influence on is your thoughts and attitudes. Be mindful about not allowing yourself to get swallowed up by others negative attitudes. Guard the attitudes you have that serve your good; attitudes that are more focused on positive truths than negative truths. Even during difficult times you have a choice as to how to view the situation.

Same is true for your thoughts. Your thoughts have so much power over your feelings and behaviors that it is critical to stay aware of them. Certainly it is okay to acknowledge the bad event that has occurred and to speak whatever your truth is about it. Then I encourage you to be mindful of your thoughts in general. Remind yourself of the good people you have in your life today and the many good things you have done for others and they have done for you. Put the bad in perspective with the whole. Allowing dark thoughts to overshadow the light will only let the negative win.

Your reactions and behaviors are also critical to overcoming the negative that does occur. When something bad happens whether it be globally; to people you know; or even closer to home, your reactions and behaviors can help counter the bad by bringing in the good. If a violent act has occurred in the world you can teach and model peace and cooperation. Do the opposite. If someone you know has suffered a loss or is experiencing a painful event, be an encouragement. Visit them, bring them a meal, clean their house, do their yard, whatever you can do to show kindness. Remember, only light overcomes darkness. Be part of the light.

As long as humankind has existed bad things have occurred on all levels. Yet, humans have a way of overcoming. Choose to be part of the healing, not part of the divisiveness. Being an encouragement and a source of hope to a few is a wonderful gift to give. Never minimize what your light can do to those who need it. When you bless others you also are blessed.

Savor The Moment!

Thoughtful1
There are many stages in life that each of us goes through and lessons we are meant to learn during those times. And at this point in my life I am reflecting on some of where I have been and some about where I am. As my dear children are now teenagers (which I am still in disbelief) it brings me to reflect on the past, and a part of me wonders if I really enjoyed those earlier times when they were younger; if I savored them enough.

When you’re the mother of young children you are the center of their universe; the apple of their eye. There is no greater love to me than when those boys would run up to greet me because they were so excited for me to arrive. I read a quote recently that said something to the effect of “Every parent of a teenager must own a dog so that when they come home someone will be glad to see them.” I just thought that was great. And that is how my life is different now.

Although I know my boys love me it’s not as cool to be around mom; they don’t talk as much; and I definitely am not the center of their universe. They are growing up and things are changing. This really does cause me to reflect on how quick time goes by. And during the younger years my husband and I were so busy; as I know most of you are. We certainly spend much time with our kids. However, there are times that I want to go back and go through those days more slowly, now that I know what I know.

And this is the message I want to share with you today; whether it be with your children or other loved ones in your life today; to savor the moment, to go more slowly and enjoy the moment. To try and focus on the person you are with when you are together. To not allow the many demands of life to take this from you, as time will continue on and I don’t want you to miss the joy and experience of that time with your special loved one.

There is so much wisdom that does come with age, if we choose to learn the lessons needed. And this would be a piece of wisdom I would want to pass along; wisdom that is well known and many books written about it; embracing the moment. Being completely and utterly engrossed in the experience of the moment you are presently in.

It is so easy to be distracted by the multiply demands that today’s life brings. And while we do have to pay attention to the necessities of life don’t do it at the sacrifice of your most important relationships. These people are more important in the long run than any worldly rewards or possessions. Cherish the moment!

Does Your Life Reflect What You Value Most?

values
As you go through your day today I encourage you to ask yourself, “Does this day reflect what I value most?” Values are important because living in harmony with them brings fulfillment and contentment. If you are not aware of what you value most, then how will you have a harmonious life? When you are out of harmony with your values, you will be unhappy and unfulfilled. I am sure many of us would like to just not work or not have to worry about money and then we will be happy. I am not talking about living unrealistically. I am talking about becoming your own director in your life instead of feelings as if you have no power. Knowing how you really feel and what matters to you most is the first step in empowering yourself.

Living in a way that reflects one’s values is not just about what you do, it is also about how you do things. For instance, my life is very hectic. Between working full-time, managing my own business, and raising two very active boys-along with fitting in working out, my husband, chores, etc.-life can be challenging. However, how I do all these activities needs to reflect my core values.

Identifying your values is one of the first steps to writing your own script in life. You will have fewer regrets in life if you start focusing and taking responsibility for where you are and where you want to be. You will be your best self when you take time to understand what you really need, feel, and want. You are the only one who can do that.

So as you go through your day and your week, take time to pause and ask yourself, “Am I behaving and living in a way that honors what I value?” The more often your answer is yes, the more content you will be.

What Path Is Your Life Following?

path
What path is your life following? This question will help you identify the areas in your life that are being fulfilled and going in the direction you want. It will also help you address the areas in your life that you are not happy with or the aspects of your life in which you know you are not living up to your full potential. Only you can decide when you are ready to take responsibility for where you are in life and where you want to be.

It is important to evaluate one’s life. If you do not, then you will just be reacting to what comes your way instead of creating or being proactive in your life.

Identifying the path your life is following encourages reflection on all aspects of your well-being. It is time to focus on and evaluate many components of your life. This especially involves how you feel about yourself and how those feelings, conscious or unconscious, either get in your way or help you. Wisdom comes from reflection, and without it you are just following the path presented instead of creating the path you want.

Identifying where your life is falling short can be difficult, but it is very valuable because only then can you concentrate on what needs to be changed. Maybe you are very successful in your career, but your interpersonal relationships are rocky at best. Maybe you are the one who helps everyone except yourself. Do others view you as very self-confident and secure but you know otherwise?

To get where you want to be you must first know where you are. This is of utmost importance. It is time to come clean with yourself. No one else can help you grow emotionally and spiritually until you are able to identify that you have an emotional or spiritual need. Self-honesty is essential. Pretending to be OK or strong is just that, pretending, and as you know, it is often a lot of work. Why not stop working so hard at being something you’re not and address how you really feel inside and how you can change the areas that need your attention! You are in charge of your own personal growth! Take charge!