Today I want to talk about selfishness. Have you ever been called selfish? I definitely have.
As a young child, my nuclear family referred to me as, "Greta Gets Her Way". It came from relentlessly pushing for what I wanted until I got it. Of course, this attitude got worse in my teenage years. You could for sure say I acted like a selfish brat.
Thankfully, I had a huge wake up call. Between my 16th & 17th birthday, I started a yoga practice. It made me increasingly aware of my thoughts, word and actions. I grew more compassionate and considerate of others. Something shifted in a big way.
Entering adulthood, things got a little more complicated. I learned how important it is to know and ask for what you want. People pleasing isn't sustainable. There's a balancing act to giving and taking. To be healthy and happy, you must take care of yourself.
We know from airplane safety demonstrations that if you don't put your oxygen mask on first, you can't save anyone else...
There's an increasing number of social media influencers, bloggers and celebrities who strongly encourage a self-care practice. I personally know a lot of people (mostly women) who confuse this with selfishness. They've expressed feeling wrong for spending time and money on things like working out, pedicures, creative pursuits, starting a business, girls trips, even taking a bubble bath or afternoon nap. Because I am a HUGE advocate of self-care in all its glorious forms, I want to explain 2 different kinds of selfishness.
I see it like this: There's selfish (little "s") and Selfish (capital "S").
Little "s" selfish is not a good look on anyone. It comes in the form of greed, narrow-mindedness and narcissism. Think back to that snotty, pouting teenager who can't see beyond herself. Yucky things like belittling others to make yourself feel better, rudeness and incessant complaining fall into this form of (little "s") selfishness.
Selfish with a capital "S" is extremely important and necessary. This kind of Selfishness means you keep your side of the street clean through self-examination and personal development. It's prioritizing your health and fitness so you can provide for others. You give from a space of joy, not obligation or guilt. When it's time to rest, you rest. No means no. Yes means yes. Though you may disappoint others in the short term, you'll be a better version of yourself in the end. Selfishness (capital "S") could be classified as self-care and is never something to feel bad about.
Give yourself permission to be big "S" Selfish from here on out. Release all guilt and shame associated with self-care. Intuitively, you know how to put yourself first without hurting anyone in the process. There's a voice deep inside of you that's begging for your attention. Start listening to YOUR wants and needs so you don't fall into the trap of resentment and exhaustion. You owe yourself the same amount of love and care you offer others.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: Meditate on selfishness, Selfishness and self-care in your life. Schedule a minimum of 1 hour this week dedicated to YOU. Value that time like an important doctor's appointment. Sign up for a yoga class, get out your craft kit, enjoy a chick flick...whatever feels the most pleasurable. Notice any guilt that comes up during that time and let it go. Affirm that you're caring for yourself so you can better care for others. Increase this practice to 20 minutes to 1 hour each day.
I'm here to support you on your Selfish/Self-Care Journey. Let me know if you'd like to chat about this in more detail. All replies go straight to my private inbox, and I always reply.
Make today about being good to YOU!
This morning I had plans to meet a dear friend for coffee. We’re usually quite casual and flexible with each other, especially when it comes to timing. We almost expect our meetings to start and end a little later than the original arrangement.
Today was no different; I was running behind schedule. I found myself anxious and scrambling to get to the cafe on time. Around 10 minutes before I left my apartment, I texted to let her know I’d be leaving soon. And she quickly replied, “No rush!”
But I still felt rushed. I noticed my anxiety getting worse as the minutes passed by. My breath shortened and my pulse quickened. I wasn’t fully present to what I was doing because I was worrying about the future. It was an uncomfortable feeling that was completely self-induced.
Then I did do something different. I paused and realized I was creating unnecessary pain through my fabricated sense of urgency. My friend wasn’t in a hurry. Her text granted me permission to take the time I needed to get to her safely. So why was I stressing myself out over nothing? Simply noticing my reaction helped to significantly reduce my nervousness, if not eliminate it.
It’s so easy to project toxic thoughts and emotions into the stories of your day, often without it. Here are some examples that come to mind:
If the guy you’re dating doesn’t reply to your text message after 15 minutes, you start telling yourself he lost interest and probably started seeing someone else. You feel sad until 15 minutes after that he gets back to you like nothing changed.
You freak out on Wednesday night because no one signed up for your Thursday morning Pilates class. Your evening is spent feeling like a failure, and you believe they must not like your teaching style. But you show up to the studio the next day to find 3 people registered and 3 more dropped in at the last minute.
A colleague seems quieter than usual. She cancels your happy hour plans at the last minute. In your mind, she must be mad at you for something. You spend the day bummed out, trying to figure out why. Later that night, she informs you that her cat is sick and she needed to be home with her.
Think about all the time and energy you’ve wasted worrying about things that don’t exist. How much of your day are you spending in the past or future, participating in a narrative that only hurts you?
So much pain can be avoided by being accepting and present. Sure, you’re human and it’s natural for your mind to wander into fantasy land. But I encourage you to pause and notice your anxieties. Can you pinpoint where they’re coming from? Is it something real that you should take action on, or is your imagination running wild?
Even if the worst case scenario is true, your anguish isn’t serving you. You’re better off letting it go and letting it be. It’s probably not personal. Trust that what is happening is right...because it IS.
If you’re anything like me, you run a little bit anxious. Anxiety can be debilitating at times because it feels like there’s nothing you can do to stop it. But perhaps you do have the power to put it to a halt. Wouldn’t you say it’s worth a try?
I hope you’ll join me in this approach to living a joyful and anxiety-free life. Together, let’s encourage each other to step back and get curious about our feelings and the stories behind them. By letting go of judgement and observing from a space of inquiry, it’s easier to connect the dots around your anxieties. Sometimes one connection is all it takes to shift the storyline and start a new chapter; one where you’re empowered and life is working in your favor.
Take action today! Slow down. Listen to what you’re saying to yourself and others. Connect with your breath. Release what doesn’t serve you. Choose to see the positive. And welcome yourself back to the present moment where life is really happening.
I always used to tell people I have 2 Grandmas. My grandma Ertl was the warm, fluffy grandma who baked amazingly delicious chocolate chip cookies and told bedtime stories. Gosh, I loved that woman so much!
Then there was Grams. Grandma Foster (Mom or Marilyn, as many of you know her) was the spicy, sassy (and classy) grandma who taught me the importance of wearing fashionable jewelry and having your nails done. She always had the cutest (age appropriate) outfits. And she made sure she had a new one for every special occasion. Grams loved to drink vodka gimlets and smoke cigarettes...until she couldn't. Then she made do with red wine and one liners. She was the life of the party because she loved life so much.
Marilyn valued her family and friends, above all else. She always made time for the people she loved. When you talked to her, you knew she was listening because she remembered what you told her and always followed up to make sure whatever you were up to was going well. Grandma was loyal, honest and authentic which made her personality charming and magnetic to anyone who had the privilege of knowing her.
Grandma was always there for us. She showed up to every birthday, reunion, graduation, game and performance she could. Grams wanted to be part of the action and included in all the excitement. And when she couldn’t be there physically, grandma showed her support and told us how proud she was with phone calls and cards. She loved all of us the same amount, but she knew how to tailor her love and express it differently to each of us.
Grams always said what was on her mind. She didn’t hold back. You never had to guess what she was thinking. I loved her independence and wit. Marilyn was unapologetically herself. She approached life playfully with an admirable sense of humor and compassion.
Grandma stayed strong for all of us until the day she died. I think the hardest part for her was leaving all the people that loved her. But the funny thing is, she didn’t actually leave anyone. Marilyn, Mom, Mother in-law, Grandma, Great Grandma lives on in her family legacy...
In my mom, Monica, I see her leadership and love for tradition.
In Susan, I see her incredible strength and empathy.
In Mary, I see her warmth, fun and acceptance.
In Julie, I see her ‘take charge attitude’ and sense of direction.
In Rick, I see her protector and favorite son.
Her grandchildren and great grandchildren carry her spark, determination and zest for life.
During her last hours, we expressed, over and over how thankful we were for everything she did and everything she was. We said our “I love yous” 100 times over. And grandma kept saying, “I know, I know.” She didn’t have a doubt in her mind how deeply cared for and loved she was. Now THAT is a beautiful thing.
I hope we can all feel just as confident that Grandma is in a much better place. I hope you find peace in your heart knowing she’s here in spirit and will continue to make herself known in each of us.
Even when she was sick, Grams loved life. She loved it so much, she didn’t want to let it go. And you know what? You can’t teach people how to love life. You have to dig deep and feel it. You have to open your eyes and see it. You have to open your ears and hear it. So, I challenge all of you to find that same love for life. That’s what grandma would want for all of us.
When I get quiet, and ask myself, “What was grandma’s message?” This is what I hear…
Look for the good in every situation. Express yourself freely. Ask for what you want. Stay strong in adversity. Be there for your family, no matter what. And don’t forget to make regular hair appointments.
Usually when I’m hit with a burst of inspiration, motivation or a great idea, my first thought is something like…
Wow! That would be so cool. How could I do that?
Followed by this thought…
Well, that probably wouldn’t work.
Or this thought…
It’s actually kind of a stupid idea. Forget it.
Sadly, what could’ve been my next great invention or best selling book ends up disappearing into the abyss.
When this happened to me the other day, I wondered, “Why?” Why are you so quick to shut yourself down? Why is your first instinct to push it away?
The muses of creativity visit you often. They arrive when you least expect it. They stop by with a purpose just for you. In dreams, visions or driving down a snowy highway...they come.
But instead of listening and taking action, you submit to your excuses. You’re dominated by doubt. It’s more comfortable resting in resistance. Even though you know avoiding the call for too long ultimately leads to deep discontentment.
What's stopping you? Why don’t you grab the pen and paper? Make the phone call? Submit the application?
What’s in your way?
I can’t figure out who, but someone once said, “I believe every person has a million dollar idea inside of them.” So what sets the achievers apart from the non-achievers?
I think a big problem with not achieving your goals is that you’re afraid of your own potential. It’s scary to consider what would would happen if it did work. Subconsciously, you worry your life would change (even though you desperately want to switch things up). You’d have to field unwelcome opinions and criticism. They’d see you come out of hiding. They’d treat you differently...
The work is the scariest part of all. Ideas are cheap. The follow through is the gateway to freedom. When you silence the negative voices and push through, the result is happiness. Doing the work is what makes you successful. Saying, “Bring it on!” Instead of, “Turn it off!” is the practice of great healers, artists and entrepreneurs. Thing is, everyone would be a billionaire if they knew they could kick the work’s ass.
Look. You are a creative genius. You are a one-of-a-kind creature. You are unstoppable. It's time to get out of your own way and push through.
The next time a muse taps you on the shoulder and you have an aha moment? DO SOMETHING. DO ANYTHING. TAKE THE FIRST STEP.
Here's to living the life of your wildest dreams!
I love being in love. So much so, I've spent the last 13 years of my life in relationships.
Having a boyfriend is amazing for so many reasons. The emotional support, cozy cuddles and inside jokes, among many other things, make coupledom rewarding and enjoyable.
Of course romantic partnership has its challenges and downfalls, as well. You have to compromise, communicate and make a lot of sacrifices to keep the peace and love strong between 2 people.
Now that I'm a single woman for the first time in a long time, I'm having some important realizations...
I was feeling really down and out in one of my favorite yoga classes the other day. My mind was running circles around recent events. Disturbing images and unsettling feelings were taking over my experience on the mat.
Then I asked myself, “What’s different between where I am now versus where I was 3 months ago?”
The only difference is that I had a boyfriend then, and now I don’t. Yes, this is significant. But then again...not really.
I’m still me. I still have the most amazing friends and family. I still get to practice at a beautiful yoga studio. I still have a great job. I still get to eat healthy food and drink clean water.
It occurred to me that I’d been letting my happiness be controlled by 1 element in my life. My focus was on the 1 thing I didn’t have when I could’ve been looking at the 1,000’s of wonderful pieces that were still there.
How much happiness are you investing in 1 area of your life? I think it’s normal to get stuck in tunnel vision.
When work is going well and you’re hitting your number? You’re on Cloud 9. You feel powerful, successful and excited. But when you have a down month? You feel like utter crap. Suddenly, nothing in your life is going right and you think you’re kind of a loser.
Perhaps you finally shed those lingering 5 pounds you’ve been meaning to lose for all of 2016. You’re absolutely elated! Your clothes look and feel better than ever. You walk around like the hot babe you know you are. Then you attend a few holiday parties, get off your diet plan and gain all 5 pounds back. Now all you want to do is hide away in your apartment. And you feel like a big, fat failure.
Maybe you’re planning to finally get engaged. You’ve been with your lover for 4 years and you couldn’t be happier. You’ve picked out the ring of your dreams and he knows the exact size of your finger. You get a manicure in preparation for a big night out. But...he never pops the question. You feel discouraged and disappointed, and you wonder if you’ll ever get married.
Any of these scenarios sound familiar? It’s easy to fixate on the 1 thing that’s going either super right or terribly wrong. I catch myself in negative thought loops more often than I’d like to admit.
Let’s make a pact to focus on the big picture, especially over the next couple weeks.The holidays tend to trigger strong thoughts and feelings. Remember: Your circumstances don’t dictate your happiness...YOU do.
Even if that 1 thing doesn’t go as planned? Your life is still full of beautiful blessings. Give your attention to what you have instead of what you lack.
The other day my friend commented on how resilient I am. After she said that, I thought to myself… Resiliency is such a beautiful word. So I looked up the definition and this is what I found:
It definitely resonated. Even though I’m going through some personal difficulties? I do my best to remain cheerful and hopeful, like always.
But then I realized when life challenges you to be resilient? You never actually return to the original form as the definition states.
Curve balls happen. You don’t get the job. Your business plummets. Unexpected things come out of left field.
I know when I’m suffering, I want nothing more than to get back to comfort. The goal is to return to health, happiness and overall ease as quickly as possible. And I believe that’s a good target to aim for.
Just don’t forget to embrace change. Yes, you need to be strong and resilient. But you also need to accept that every experience is transforming you into a better version of yourself.
I, for one, barely recognize 15-year-old Greta. I’m sure in another 10 years, I’ll have a hard time relating to myself as I am now.
That’s because the highs and lows of life have bent, compressed and molded me into someone else. I’ve become better, brighter, and more knowledgeable, year after year.And honestly? I have no desire to go back to my original form.
Here's my call to action: Let your struggles stretch you to your limits. Push the status quo. Accept challenges as change makers. Use them to become someone new rather than staying stuck in old.
You're stronger than you think you are