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.
I attend a lot of group fitness and yoga classes. Actually, I’m obsessed with working out alongside a bunch of other sweaty people. It’s extremely motivating and a lot more fun than spending an hour on the treadmill. Plus, I greatly enjoy the connection and community.
When I visited my parents over Christmas break, I had no choice but to exercise solo. Don’t get me wrong. Home practices are excellent for many reasons. You go at your own pace and listen to what your body needs rather than submissively following the cues of the instructor. You know… Headstand followed by 30 jumping jacks? Sure! Why not? ;)
The only problem? No one is watching you. You hold the timer. You’re the counter and the coach. Sometimes it’s no biggie. But often times you slack off...at least a little bit. Instead of doing 20 push ups, you do 12. Maybe you skip all the chaturangas and go straight to down dog. You workout for 45 minutes, not 60.
It’s completely normal to act and work differently when you’re with people versus being alone. Duh. But the other day I noticed how particularly hard I was pushing myself in a YOD class. It made me think...I would never work this hard if I was in my own living room.
So I asked the question, “Why do I perform better when I’m in public?” And, “What if I worked like someone was watching...all the time?”
(Well, that would be super creepy, Greta…)
The point is, when you’re ‘on stage’ or ‘showing off,’ you tend to put in more effort.You feel held accountable. Your performance seems more important when observers are present.
And the truth is, people are watching. Whether you like it or not. Someone, and probably more people than you realize, are paying attention to you. And if you’re working towards a bigger audience or more followers, expect that number to grow and grow.
Everything you do (or don’t do) matters. The work, or lack thereof, makes a difference. If you want to be impactful and influential, it’s important you pay extra close attention to your thoughts, words and actions...every moment of every day.
TAKE (POSITIVE, INSPIRED) ACTION!
Just for today, pretend you have a devoted admirer shadowing your every move.How would you show up? What kind of awareness would you bring to the table? Try it out! ...Just for one day.
Not too long ago, I was cheated on and lied to by someone I deeply cared for. This was a devastating and somewhat traumatizing experience. As expected, my broken heart went through the 5, agonizing stages of grief. It was extremely difficult. But I can confidently say I made it to the other side and I’m feeling better than ever.
I've truly accepted my situation. Actually, I thank my lucky stars everyday it happened at all. Had I not gone through what I did, I wouldn’t be living the amazing life I am right now.
Look. I’ve found gratitude and acceptance amidst pain and betrayal. But that doesn’t mean the case is closed. The final step to ‘getting over’ and ‘moving on’ is...forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a toughie. The biggest misconception about forgiveness is that it’s for them. Truth is, when you choose to forgive, you make that decision for yourself.
And when you’re ready to clear the air from your consciousness, it doesn’t mean you have to be friends with, much less communicate with the person you’re forgiving. You don’t have to tell them you forgave them. And you definitely don’t have to trust them.
It does mean you want to let go of what’s no longer serving you. And you commit to releasing the old so you can make room for the new. Forgiveness is actually an act of self-love.
Holding grudges hurts you more than your offender. The person who wronged you might not even care how you feel. Chances are they’ve blocked it out of their mind. You’re the one still worried about it. And all that negative energy towards the past can and will continue to build up causing physical, mental and emotional health issues if you neglect to do anything about it.
That’s why I encourage practicing forgiveness every single day. Make it part of your meditation practice. Simply imagine the person you want to forgive and send them a message of forgiveness. In fact, you can do this exercise right now.
Let go of the narrative. Do it for your own sake. Forgiveness doesn’t right wrongs. Rather, it heals your heart so you can open it once again. It allows you to move on from a place of love instead of fighting forward from a place of fear.
Who or what do you need to forgive?
Remember: Forgiveness is for you, not for them.
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!