Selfish Or Self Respect?


It is important to understand the difference between being selfish, and having some self respect.  I thought about it this week when I briefly encountered a young lady who needed to improve her grades.  It was as if she thought the world would end if she didn’t.  It was also somehow apparent that these good grades would mostly be to please other people.  There was no opportunity for me to really communicate with her on the matter, other than to give a quick suggestion not to be too hard on herself.  

This encounter made me think about the reason that our relationship with ourselves is so important.  It is a good goal to improve your grades, but if pressure from the outside causes you to engage in self-criticism then it is more important that you take a stand for yourself and not worry so much about pressure from the outside.  I am reminded of a wise quote by Indian guru, Sadhguru. “It is your mind. Things should be the way you want them in there.. Isn’t it?”  He was talking about the state of your mind to handle the things coming at you from the outside.  It is up to you to decide how you react to what happens to you.  I think the one thing that really helps us do this is when we begin with the assumption that we are enough.  That we are whole and complete within ourselves.  This doesn’t mean we think that we are perfect, it means that we think enough of ourselves and understand that we are not literally perfect and that’s OK.  Understanding that we are truly valuable, and at the same time understanding that we are flawed helps us to not only extend grace to ourselves, but to others as well.  When your view of yourself and others is obscured with insecurities, making good decisions is nearly impossible. Taking pressure off yourself makes it easier for you to do better.  The intention to be better is good enough if you have a healthy view of yourself.  Do you perform better when you self ridicule, or do you perform better when you believe you are up to the task?  Pretty obvious right?

We can hold ourselves to a higher standard without all of the self abuse.  Sometimes when we set out to achieve something we are more focused on the consequences of how it will turn out.  We worry about a future moment that hasn’t happened yet.  This increases the pressure on us, but doesn’t help us to actually do better work. You literally can’t do anything in the past or future.  Now is the only time you have to act, so doesn’t it make sense to focus on the task rather than worrying about the consequences if you fail, or thinking about your past failures?  When we have a healthy view of ourselves we are free to quit self criticism, and focus on the task at hand.  Eliminating all the background noise makes the task so much more bearable.  Think about trying to do something that requires focus in a room full of loud talking people.  Your thoughts about the past and future like the room full of noisy people inhibit your ability to focus. 

The foundational belief that helps you to be better is the belief that you are enough.  You are a perfectly imperfect human being.  You have great value that extends well beyond your past, your thoughts, and your feelings.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is true for all of us.  Finding that truth and giving  yourself grace is the first step to a better life.      

Lies We Believe


This video popped up on my YouTube feed today. I normally don’t just post a video without commentary, but I think this video is worth a watch. I have spent a lot of time thinking about lies that are widely believed, and I mostly agree with the video host.

Life Doesn’t Need to Be So Hard


We have plenty of things to keep us busy.  We have responsibilities around work, school, family, and finances among many other things.  For most people there is a lot to do, and then we step in and add our thoughts about the consequences of not getting it all done. We weigh ourselves down with the expectations of ourselves and others.  There are two separate aspects to living life.  There is performing all the activities that need to be done, then there is all of the added pressure of our thoughts about the activity.  

What if you could take half the pressure off yourself, and only focus on the activities without adding the additional pressure of thinking about consequences, and expectations?  We have the activity and then we have our thoughts and beliefs about these activities.  These thoughts influence how well we perform the activities. If you put a board on the floor and attempt to walk across it, this is easy for most people.  Take that same board and lay it across the distance between two tall buildings and then walk across it.  It is the same task, but the stakes are much higher if you fail to stay on the board while walking between buildings.  The location of the board is very similar to your thoughts about the task you are about to take on.  Assuming the board doesn’t flex, and there is no wind, it is the same task. The great thing about most of our activities is that if we mess up, nothing really bad happens.  

Famous author Mark Twain said “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” In this quote he was pointing to the fact that it is our worries about what might happen that is the source of many of our perceived problems.  If we really stop and think about it, this is an undeniable truth. So what do you do about it? 

Part of a mindfulness journey is learning to live in the present moment, and just acknowledging these worries without reacting to them in any way. I remember when I was learning to just have these thoughts, acknowledge them and not react to them.  I was afraid that if I quit reacting to these thoughts, that my world would fall apart and nothing would get done.  I took a leap of faith and just quit reacting.  Exactly the opposite of my worry happened.  I became a lot more effective, and got more done without all the stress.  I also found that I naturally started taking time to think through what had to be done, but then once I started doing it, I focused all of my attention on the task. I was no longer worrying about consequences. 

It is almost as if life just started unfolding.  I am not ready to give an explanation of why or how this happens, I just know that life is much easier and more gets done when you stop worrying about the future or reliving the past.  Learning to let these thoughts pass is important.  Please reach out here if you want to know more about how to let go of your stressors.  There are lots of free resources out there to help you with this.