I’ve been called selfish, to my face, by people I love. It used to cause me to dance to the tune of the one who said it, exactly as it was intended. I used to believe it was a bad thing.
We’ve been handed a complex, relatively unspoken set of rules regarding societal expectations. Because our (recent) origins stem from Puritan-Christian beliefs and our (deeper) origins stem from tribal customs we are quite ingrained with the message to put the welfare of others and ‘the group’ ahead of individual welfare. While this certainly helped us, at first, survive as a species and more recently organize as a civilization, it appears that we now have a lot of individual dis-ease around being not worthy unless we are self-sacrificing. I am referring to all-too-common feelings of inferiority, anxiety disorders, stress, depression all the way to auto-immune disorders and suicide. I believe at the root of all of this is the belief that one is not enough and that we have to earn approval, our right to belong and essentially; to earn love.
Because we have so much exposure to what everyone else is doing (and thinking!) via social media and advertising we have a very heightened expectation of ourselves and what we ‘should’ be doing or what we ‘should’ be like and even what we ‘should’ desire. Others telling us what is needed to belong. We are wired to want to be part of our ‘tribe’ and our tribe is barraging us with messages, no wonder we are all feeling so shitty about ourselves.
Let’s look at being selfish. Putting oneself ahead. Putting oneself first. Regarding oneself before considering others. There is the most illustrative example of airlines cautioning us – on EVERY flight – in the event of air loss, place the oxygen-mask on yourself BEFORE assisting others. How many of us, in our everyday lives, are assisting others while we are deprived? Deprived of sleep. Deprived of proper nutrition, exercise, connection, support, etc.? How many of us are so self-depleted from always saying yes, that we are angry, bitter, resentful and/or depressed?
Self-care is not the same as staying in a perpetual state of victim-hood and neediness. I got stuck here for a while. Once a person’s well-being is nurtured then sustained OR the inner sense (knowing) of inherent value and trust in real needs always being met arises, then a sense of wanting to contribute – wanting to serve will be a natural outflow.
It is time to drop the notion that being selfish will lead to the downfall of society. In fact, the opposite is reasoning that is not faulty. When the individual and their particular need for well-being is properly considered, the contribution to society’s well-being, by that individual will be creative and abundant. We need to start considering ourselves first. What are you feeling? Where does it hurt? What do you really need? What would happen if you said no? Who would you be if you weren’t trying to please everyone and earn their love? If they really love you, do you need to earn it? Is needing what you need selfish?
I am currently on the island of Oahu at a raw food camp. I’m not a raw foodist and I am most certainly not a camper. My daughter is, however. She and her fiancé volunteer for an organization called Woodstock Fruit Festival you can check out who they are and what they do here. My intention for coming here was to spend time with my daughter and immerse myself in the world that she occupies, which is very different from the way we raised her. Maybe some of you have children or people whom you love who are following a very different life plan than yours - you know what I mean. For me it has been an ongoing lesson of acceptance and allowing. Sometimes painful, sometimes beautiful. Because, loving someone seems to imply loving the same things and when you don’t have much in common, how do you relate? My understanding is definitely expanding and changing.
Even though I don’t follow the lifestyle that my daughter and this group are passionate about, we are all still people and I can certainly relate to that. No matter how passionate you are about your path, life gives us challenges and there are no exceptions here. Really understanding and loving someone allows you to be o.k. with their choices, even when they are not like yours.
This is not a difficult place to be. I sleep and wake to the sound and amazing view of the ocean. There is sand and sun right outside my building – no tent for me! All of my meals are prepared, consisting of everything fresh and organic in abundance. And, I don’t have to do dishes. My idea of paradise for sure.
Traveling alone, rooming with someone I’ve never met from a different continent, eating food in a way I don’t normally eat it, on a schedule that isn’t mine has most certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone. I am surprised how quickly I’ve adapted and how easily I can enjoy myself, when I just allow it. There is much to learn from a group of people that I don’t know anything about. Is there a better way to understand them than hanging out in their world for a week? Will I take some of what I've experienced here home with me? How can I not? Experience changes.
I am so proud of my daughter and the effort it took for her to become exactly who she’s meant to be, in spite of the expectations we handed her. She is happy and beautiful. She is lovingly spreading healing wherever she goes and in turn is surrounded by so much love and support. A mother couldn’t be happier.
I used to get regular migraines and suffer painful menstruation. A few years ago, I began to tune into the regularity of these pains. Slowly I gave them ‘proper’ attention and ‘allowed’ myself to rest and to ‘baby’ myself a bit during these episodes, instead of just bearing the pain as I powered through my day. Then one day, it occurred to me, what if I rested and ‘babied’ myself without needing pain as an excuse? I call it Intentional Resting. I have fewer migraines now, my periods are not painful and intentional resting has resulted in getting more of things that are necessary done in less time.
And then, (my favorite, most used phrase, because one thing always leads to another!) I began to notice other ‘excuses.’ I noticed that I when I really wanted some alone time just to think or be creative or rest, I’d pick a fight my husband so that I could storm off and be by myself. Again, I asked myself, ‘Self, what if alone time was ‘allowed’(intentional) and a fight wasn’t needed to feel justified?’
Now I take regular ‘away time’ and don’t feel guilty. I used to. Huge, big time! You see, your kids, your husband, your boss, your cat/dog/parakeet always needs you. Your (fill in the blank) will always need you. The first few times you leave them will not be easy. They will grumble and try to make you feel guilty, and you will feel guilty, but you will all delightfully discover that they can manage without you. And miracle of miracles!... everyone, including you, will appreciate you so much more when you return all refreshed and filled up with rest and much needed self-attention.
I’ve just returned from intentional time away. I am so fortunate to have a kind, generous friend with a gorgeous accommodation in a valley of the mountains. I felt like I was soaking up space. Being alone and moving and existing in my own natural rhythm, in beautiful surroundings was deeply refreshing. It was, for me, a final winter rest (hibernation) and a soaking before the big push that spring will be.
Where are your ‘excuses?’ Excuses for pain, suffering, self-sacrifice? What are they trying to tell you that you need?
Try giving yourself what you need without excuses. Let me know what happens.
And my bonus ‘feel good now’ tip for you: “Hector and the Search for Happiness.” Watch it if you haven’t already. For fun.
It certainly feels like the year is Marching along. Things have been lining up with my intentions for the year – having more fun. I already wrote about the Vision Board party. I am going to schedule another one, so stay tuned.
I had that 50 Shades of Grey party and it was a lot of fun. There are many, many opinions (judgements) about that movie and I have deliberately not weighed in on any of it. I love that we all have choices, based on our values, about everything and choices about what movies you see or don’t see is completely up to you. We are not always happy with the choices or the values of others, but guess what? We don’t get to choose for others, ever! Having opinions about other peoples’ choices does not make one happier. Making choices that are in line with your values and that make you happy is a pretty cool freedom.
I just got back from an 8 day trip to Chicago. It was great. Lots to see and do in that windy city. If you are friends with me on Facebook (Jenn Washington, Calgary) you can see the play by play in pictures. Also if you are lucky enough to be on my mailing list, you’ve received a ‘free offer’ goodie this week. It is not too late to sign up to be on my mailing list, just enter your email address over there -> and I will send you the offer.
My next few weeks will be spent retreating. I have built in some retreat time and quiet activities into my calendar because I don’t know about you, but now that I am living a more body/mind connected life, I just cannot be constantly on the go. I like the busyness of having an action packed activities and social calendar, but I need alone time. I need unscheduled time. I also need the time to assimilate all that I’ve encountered, accomplished and experienced. When I run off to do the next thing, I miss the pleasure of absorbing what I’ve done.
I expect to return rested and inspired, because that’s what usually happens after a period of resting, and ready for spring!
Sending love and light to you all. Send me a note, I always love to hear from you!
Karen submits the prescription she’s been denying for weeks. Jasmine decides now, finally, she will call that therapist and talk about her childhood trauma. Anita resolves to pack her bags and stay with the friend who has offered her sanctuary and leave before Jim gets home.
When we think of bravery we usually default to an epic movie scene where the hero must leap a great chasm or thwart a fierce enemy, but in our daily reality what constitutes being brave is less 'ta da' and more true grit. One must be brave to admit that things are no longer working. It takes bravery to pack those bags and leave, with no real fall back plan. It takes bravery to take that medication. It takes bravery to say the words that need to be said, knowing they will forever change your life. Bravery, in real life, is in those moments of letting go and taking steps when you don’t know where they’ll lead.
We falsely believe that stepping into the unknown is thrilling and exciting. More often than not, it’s terrifying. We are wired to survive. We will not make a move or a change, even a good one if there is even a hint of a chance that our resources, such as they are, will be threatened. And we fear that where we will end up will be worse than where we are now. We judge those who don’t leave an abusive or toxic situation but, please, consider what it is that you are, at this moment, tolerating, because change seems so much harder than continuing to accept how you’re living.
How do you know it is time to let go? To stop tolerating? To step into the unknown? Here are just a few, common signs that it may be time to let things fall apart:
1) You’re just getting through the day.
2) You are constantly sick, tired or have chronic pain.
3) You can’t think of anything that feels fun.
4) Your constant thoughts are all critical.
5) The idea of things never changing feels painful or just plain bleak.
I witness regularly the strength in the belief of ‘not quitting,’ ‘pulling up your socks,’ ‘just trying harder.’ I see the devastating self-annihilation of that belief. Should anything worth having really be that much work? Is the thing you are fighting so hard to maintain/keep the same, really what you want?
Maybe letting things fall apart is what is supposed to happen so that it can be rebuilt better and stronger instead of merely mended, propped up or maintained. Or just maybe it’s the first step to becoming who you’re really meant to be. Sometimes the bravest thing one can do is stop trying. Take the step. Make the call. Write the letter. Stop. That’s what brave is.
Happy Mid-January to you.
I am off to a good start for the plan to enjoy myself more in 2015! (read about that here) Along with doing what I love best – coaching people – hanging out with my loved ones, singing with a Buncha Divas, participating in a tap dance class and running and skating (!) outdoors, I hosted an awesome Vision Board Party. (What’s a Vision Board you ask? Check it out here). It was awesome because of the excellent people who participated and because of the cool ‘ah ha’s’ for all and mostly for the great excuse to hang out and talk about things that actually matter which activates personal growth which, in fact, changes the world. So I’m adding ‘world changer’ to my list of things that I do! I will most definitely be hosting another Vision Board Party. Please send me an email if you want to be included on the next invite! firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Vision Board Party.
Next up, I am planning a 50 Shades of Grey party in February. Whether you’re a ‘fan’ or not, this, once again, is my ‘excuse’ for hosting a gathering. It is a chance to, at least, be entertained and act silly. At most, vicariously explore the possibility of being uninhibited for a few short hours. The plan is to attend the movie then meet at my home for a ‘party-to-discuss’ afterward. Send me an email if you want to be included in this invitation: email@example.com Subject:
50 Shades of Grey Party.
Of course my days and weeks are not one long stream of happy bliss. Life is still life and I experience the challenges as I am certain you do. I am hoping that all is off to a mostly good start for you. I look forward to seeing you at one of my "excuses to party" and/or hearing from you any time; I love your questions and comments.
Do the expectations of a New Year make you feel anxious and or bad about yourself?
They do for me! I catch myself listing all my shortcomings as well as a ton of things I ‘should do’ to improve myself. I am immediately plunged into believing I am not enough and I must quickly do something, anything about it. Luckily, I am well trained in (eventually) catching these rascally thoughts and can implement tools to transpose them into ways to help me.
Before I contemplate changes of any kind, I first look back on the year just passed and give myself credit for all that I did and for the experiences I had. Then, I let go of all that was disappointing or painful as best I can. This year, I wrote out my disappointments on paper, then burned them. Outside, of course. Next, I imagine myself in December 2015. Do I want my experience to be different than what it is right now? If the answer is yes, then I start by acknowledging that right here, right now “I am enough.” Even if things are exactly the same for me in December 2015 as they are right now, that is o.k. Maybe 2014 threw a bunch of things at me that will require me to spend 2015 adjusting and absorbing and not adding anything. If it feels good to move forward, I ‘entertain’ possibilities instead of enforcing rules and lists of goals to accomplish. I become curious instead of driven. Are my desires and goals in line with my truest self, or am I doing what I think ‘others’ expect of me? Will pursuing what I think are my desires, expand my experiences or keep me small, safe, doing what I’ve always done?
When I am ready, and I don’t ‘make’ myself do this on January 1st! I will begin to play with my possibilities like this:
Step 1 – make lists. I write down everything I ‘think’ I desire and want to pursue and or create.
Step 2 – get in my happy place! I do this by meditating. Sometimes I can get ‘there’ and sometimes I use a guided meditation. There are many good ones on YouTube.
Step 3 – When I know I am out of my head (flight/fight - worry) and in my ‘zone’ (safe and I can feel love for myself and others) I then contemplate each ‘item’ on my list. And observe. When I think about doing/having this item do I feel open and expanded and a ‘yes?’ or do I shrink, tighten up and feel ‘no?’
Step 4 – Discard the ‘nos.’ set aside the ‘not sures.’ there may be some thought work to do around these
Step 5 – Begin to play with the ‘yes’ list. I will then begin to imagine being/having this ‘yes’ item. I really feel it. I might like to then make a vision board; finding images that represent the feeling or the item itself and arrange them on a sheet of paper or poster board so that I can reference the ideas and feelings often and quickly. (I am doing an in-home 2015 Vision Board class on January 14th. Contact me if you would like the details and an invitation.)
Step 6 – I begin to implement steps to get from there to here. Yes, I said ‘there’ first. By working backward from there until now I can begin to construct concrete steps to take that will move me from where I am now and point me to where I want to be there!
Step 7 – Treats & Rewards. I have a list already prepared of small and large treats and rewards that I will give myself whenever I accomplish anything I set out to do, no matter how small. This not only makes daily life much more fun for me, it is working with my brain, letting it know that positive re-enforcement makes for permanent changes.
My ‘plans’ for myself for 2015 are all about having many fun experiences. You will likely read about all of them here!
Whether you pursue anything in 2015 or not, I wish you peace and joy above all. A very sincere Happy New Year to you.
Dear Beautiful Friends Who Read My Blog and Have Voluntarily Put Themselves On My Mailing List.
I wish you a very happy holiday season. In this, my last ‘coachy’ blog of the year, I encourage you to pause for a moment and ask yourself, “What exactly am I doing all of the hustling, bustling, planning and creating for?” It is very common to be on auto-pilot at this time of year. We tend to do what we have always done without remembering why. Another good question to ask would be, “Is what I am doing, working for me?” Maybe it worked for all the years before, but it is not working now. Are there are a few things you could adjust, change or eliminate to make this holiday season just a bit more enjoyable, a bit more ‘you?’
If you discover that your reason for the season is a desire for it to be an exciting adventure, my wish is that you have that. If you find you want it to be restful and calm, then I wish you that. Or, some combination of these or something in the middle. My wishes for you are: 1) that you pay attention to your inner knowing. 2) that you take very special care of you while you are busy attending to all of the things that you do that make it extra special for all who know you. 3) that you understand that your presence in these moments if the most valuable gift you can bring to your loved ones. 4) that you thoroughly enjoy all the moments.
My wish for myself and for this holiday season is enjoyment! (of course) and a lot of rest. I have had a pretty fabulous year and I am very grateful and happy for so many blessings. I will be taking a break from writing and strategizing and social media postings, but I have some very fun ideas percolating for the fast approaching New Year. I will be sure to send you a note about all of the goodies I have planned. In the mean-time, have a holly, jolly merry Christmas and I thank you sincerely for your many kindnesses and loving support. Your presence is a gift!
Sharing is also a great gift! Please feel free to share this or 'like' this at Jen Washington, Calgary on Facebook.
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