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!

 

 

 

What’s So Special About Me?

Let your light shine

Can you describe your authentic self?  Do you even know what it means to be your authentic self?  Your authentic self is the real you; the genuine you; the spontaneous and free version of you.  There are many contributing factors from your history that may have prevented you from being your true, authentic self.  So, what do you think?  Do you know your innate, authentic self?

Try listing the qualities of your authentic, true self.  For example, here are some of my authentic qualities:  outgoing, welcoming, encouraging, inviting, open-minded, creative and expressive.  However, in my history I was shamed for many of these qualities.  I was taught that I was too much; that my personality was too big.

Therefore, throughout the years I have struggled to discover who I most authentically am and to learn to accept these parts of myself.  For example, on a scale of outgoingness I am at the very high end.  I have slowly learned to enjoy and embrace this aspect of me.  And, as I have aged I have learned how to monitor my energy by paying attention to social and cultural clues.  Many are intimidated by my strong personality qualities and I am much more accepting of this truth now.

Most important is to identify and take ownership of your authentic self.  If you are not clear, I encourage you to take time to learn about these aspects.  Without this self-awareness I don’t believe you truly can be happy and free.  You may have similarities to others and yet you are uniquely you!  I encourage you to discover and embrace your own special qualities.  Next is to surrounding yourself with close people that accept, embrace and love you for your authentic self.

Examine your most significant relationships.  Is your authentic self encouraged, accepted, appreciated and celebrated by these people? Or do you often feel put down, shamed or judged?  Do you tend to adjust yourself by trying to accommodate the other person so they will accept you?   This person could be your partner, parent, sibling etc.  In effect, you are basically denying and shaming your essence.  If this continues for too long you may forget who you really are.  Burying your authentic self is a form of self-abuse.  This self-denial and neglect often causes one to feel depressed.

 

I encourage you to save yourself.  Start remembering who you really are.  If you don’t know, get some help.  As you dig your true self out from the grave you will come back to life.  Then slowly you can figure out how to be your genuine self in your relationships.  If you find that being who you really are with those closest to you brings great fear, that is normal.  Seek support from wise people who can help you begin to take risks or set boundaries in those relationships.  Never dim your light for someone else.  Your light not only blesses others it ignites your soul!  Shine your brightest!

 

 

What’s Wrong With Some Constructive Criticism Anyway?

positivity

What do you think it is about that most of us find it hard to focus on what is positive about our behavior or the behavior of another?  It seems that “constructive criticism” or “advice giving” tends to triumph above noticing what we or the other did well.  I would truly love to hear your thoughts on why you think this is often the case!  Do you find that pointing out what others could do better and what you didn’t do as good as you could have is your tendency?   If so you are not alone.

Here is my challenge:  for the next week I want you to write down three positive things about yourself each day.  If that is too difficult then you can write three positive things that happened in your day.  Notice what this exercise is like for you.  At the end of the week I invite you to journal about the experience.  Part two of the challenge is try and be conscious of acknowledging a positive trait or behavior that another did.  Be more on purpose about noticing what the other is doing correctly or something about the other that you want to compliment and/or encourage.  Then at the end of the week write down what that was like for you.

I can pretty much guarantee that if you are in need of judgment and criticism it is easily available probably in many facets of life.  And most of us tend to be our own worst enemy so I am assuming that a little focus on what is good and positive will not hurt anyone too much!  So why not just try it!

The two most impactful mentors in my life both used this approach.  One was my first boss when I was just 22 years old:   Linda.  She found a way to see the many creative qualities I possessed and focused on those more so than the many other aspects of my personality that had a long way to go to reach maturity!

The greatest example of this is my mentor, training, supervisor, and teacher:  Dr. Nina Garci.  Dr. Garci has been my primary training in the area of psychodrama since 1993.  Psychodrama is a very detailed and complex approach to working with clients.  From the first time I directed a psychodrama to current she always pointed out what she liked about what I did!  I have never experienced anything like it!  I became a wonderful psychodramatist without an ounce of correction!!!  Yes, there was years of training where I was taught intellectually and in practice how to be a good director, so there was instruction; just never pointed out all I did wrong, just what I did right.

That may leave you with a lot of “yes, but…” questions.  I am not saying that you too do it just as Dr. Garci did.  However, I am suggesting that focusing more on the positive truths will most likely serve all of us better.

What’s Wrong With My Lover?

romantic love
Life is an interesting journey. It seems the older we get the more twists and turns come along. For many of us finding a partner, a mate, has been our main agenda. In our younger years we assumed we would grow up and meet a wonderful mate, get married and live happily ever after! What has happened?
As we all know from the divorce rate, marriages are not doing well. Couples, whether married or not, are having trouble staying together through the many challenges life brings into their relationships. The story we always imagined for ourselves is not reading the way we had hoped.
What is going on? I want to discuss one significant issue that I believe has a great impact on our relationship’s success or failure. I often say to clients that the two greatest things we do in life are being a partner and/or being parent, yet there is no training required for either. That is amazing! The only preparation we usually have is from our family of origin and our past love relationships. I strongly believe one of the best things we can do for our relationship is to become healthier ourselves prior to getting seriously involved with someone.
So what about those of us who are already in a committed relationship, divorced, or remarried? It is never too late. Often you need to start with yourself. It’s easy to become very discouraged and negative with our significant other. While many of your complaints may be valid, the only person you have control over is you. Check out your expectations. What are they? Where did they come from? Are they realistic? I remember growing up my favorite fairytale was Cinderella! (That really set me up for failure!) Think about the music you listen to and the message it is sending you about love and what it should be like!
Often we have many of our own unmet needs. Maybe you never felt loved as a child. Maybe you never felt you were good enough for one of your parents? Consciously or unconsciously we often expect our partner to fill our voids. Often they do initially, but fall short down the road. Address the parts that are about you. Become clear on what you need to heal within yourself, and what aspects of your relationship need improvement. I understand this is often a fine line but, it is one worth exploring before you make a decision about beginning or ending a relationship. The person you have the most influence over is you! Best to look there first.

How Do You Compare Yourself to Others?

comparison blog
How many of you are willing to admit that you compare yourself to others in one way or another? I am pretty sure that most of us have done this at some time in our lives if not still. Sometimes I think it can happen so automatically that we may not even realize we are doing it. It is as if we are just so accustomed to it that it seems normal. Do any of you relate?

Essentially it seems to be a form of competition. I am sure this historically stems far back in our history and would be an interesting study, however for the sake of this blog I will just put this truth out there and you can research it on your own. Sadly, today we as a culture carry this generational issue with us in our families, society, education, occupation and relationships of all kinds.

I was pondering the beginnings of this comparing one against another in our own lives. Think back to your childhood. How were you doing this then? Did you have many siblings? That comparison can start right in your own home. Maybe one sibling received better grades than you. Maybe you thought one was prettier. I won’t venture into how parents may contribute, however, I know the comparisons often starts in our own family unit; intentional or not.

In my family I was the oldest with a sibling that was four years younger than me. I was naturally athletically gifted; all genetics. I also had opportunity given to me to use those gifts. I tended to be good at whatever I tried athletically. I was also naturally outgoing. My sibling on the other hand was not naturally athletic and did not have a naturally outgoing personality. The reasons for his comparison to me are many, some natural being that I was the older sibling. Sadly, he didn’t have help identifying his strengths and finding his special gifts.

Then there are the wonderful school ages. Comparisons start early. From clothes you wear to how you look to who your friends are, etc. These travel throughout middle school, high school and into higher education. Assuming one survives those times you then continue this pattern into your adult life. How do you do this in your life today?

I believe changing this tendency of comparing oneself to others takes intentional mental focus. It won’t decrease just because you don’t like it. Most importantly is to become aware that you are doing it. Even if nothing else, that is a significant start in interrupting this automatic process.

I have many creative ideas on how to alter this habit once you are consciously recognizing it, however, for the sake of limiting the length of this entry I will recommend that once you recognize that you are comparing yourself then take a moment and write a reframe or an affirmation. It may be “My name is Nancy not Sue and three things that are special about me are…” This redirects you back to yourself and the positive truths about you. In summary, start recognizing when you are doing this and then shift the comparison to reminding yourself to focus on you and your positive qualities.

What Is Your Athentic Self?

authentic self
Can you describe your authentic self? Do you know what it even means to be your authentic self? Your authentic self is the real you; the genuine you. There are many contributing factors from your history that could have prevented you from being your true, authentic self. So, what do you think? Do you know your innate, authentic self?

Try listing the qualities of your authentic, true self. For example, here are some of my authentic qualities: outgoing, welcoming, encouraging, inviting, open-minded, loves being in groups, expressive. These are just some. However, in my history I was shamed for many of these qualities. I was taught that I was too much; that my personality was too big.

Therefore, throughout the years I have struggled to be whom I most authentically am and to learn to accept these parts of myself. On the scale of outgoing I am at the very high end. As I have aged I have learned how to honor who I am within the bounds of society and others. Many are intimidated by my strong personality qualities.

Most important is to identify and take ownership of your authentic self. If you are not sure, I encourage you to take time to learn. Without this I don’t believe you or I can be truly happy and free. Next is surrounding yourself with people close to you that accept, embrace and love you for your authentic self.

If in your most significant relationships your authentic self is not accepted; is put down or shamed and you adjust yourself; you try to accommodate the other for acceptance this will have a very adverse effect on you. This person could be your partner, parent, sibling etc. In effect, you are basically denying and shaming your essence. If this continues for too long you may forget who you really are. Burying your authentic self is a form of dying; death. In turn produces depression.

I encourage you to save yourself. Start remembering who you really are. If you don’t know, get some help. As you dig your true self out from the grave you will come back to life. Then slowly you can figure out how to be your genuine self in your relationships. If you find that being who you really are with those closest to you brings great fear, that is normal. Seek support from wise people who can help you begin to take risks or set boundaries in those relationships. Never dim your light for someone else. Shine your brightest!

What Are Your Personal Gifts?

blog27
For many of us this time of the year is a time of gift giving and all that entails. And this thought about gifts brings to my mind the concept of taking time to identify and claim our own personal gifts. Possible this is something you have already done and are aware of and you can name these gifts and are already utilizing your gifts.

However, I am cognizant that for some of you it is difficult for you to acknowledge your own good and your many talents and gifts. So I implore you this holiday to allow this to be the gift you give yourself: taking time to time to identify some of your unique personal gifts.

Personal gifts fall on a broad spectrum. Possibly one of your gifts is that you are very creative or crafty. I have many personal friends who are so creative with just about anything. They can turn a box top or old can into a fantastic gift. Your personal gift may be that you are very welcoming and attentive to others. Maybe you are an exceptional hostess. Or perhaps you are very intelligence. Or maybe you are good at fixing just about anything.

The range of personal gifts is so broad that I cannot name them all here. I will tell you that personal gifts are not always tangible like the creative or mechanically gifted. Many personal gifts are ones we cannot see or touch; like one who is very intuitive.

So for instance, I believe that one of my personal gifts is that I am extremely social; I am a strong people person. And when I don’t use that gift it adversely affects me. My mood and energy is better when I am actively engaging in my personal gift. This gift is something I was born with and needs to be honored.

I want you to think about personal gifts as more than just what you can do; but more of who you are. I hope you will take time to name some of your personal gifts. And as you do this notice how you feel as you name them. And as you name them I invite you to claim these as authentically yours. I encourage you to examine yourself and ask yourself “How often am I using my personal gifts?” The more you engage on daily basis with your personal gifts the happier you will be.