Thinking Little of Ourselves to Thinking of Ourselves Little

This past weekend, I did one of my workshops, Powerful Morning, Powerful You!

One of the themes that came out in this workshop more than others were the damaging stories we have in our minds, and how those stories are part learned, part created, all of which plays out in ourselves and shows up in our life. 

One of the danger words (and ideas) for me growing up was selfishness. 

Selfishness was bad. Selfishness was wrong. We were supposed to think of God, of others, of anyone and everyone first and foremost and ourselves last and little. Should. Oh yeah, that's a trigger word, too. But let's talk more about selfishness. It's good to think of others, sure! I know what it is to put "myself" first at the expense of others. We could call this selfish. But just as selfishness in this typified sense has a destructive capacity to ourselves and others there is another aspect of "selfishness" worth exploring.

Yet, I also know very servant-minded people who think so little of themselves they are actually shrinking their own capacity to serve. We could rightfully call this selfishness. 

If your self-esteem, your view of yourself, is so negative that you escape from being with yourself to serve others... this is selfish. It is what one of my favorite books, The Outward Mindset, describes as the "Inward Mindset." I can have an inward mindset that is thinking only of me and my needs, and I can have an inward mindset that preoccupies myself with the needs of others to avoid thinking about my own sense of inadequacy. 

The issue is not so much that we are thinking of ourselves little, it is that we are thinking little of ourselves. 

We have loud stories playing in our head about how we are not worthy of love or belonging. We feel behind on the life we could be or should be living. We wish we could do more, be more, be and bring the change we want to see in the world... but we don't BELIEVE IT. We've traded one kind of selfishness for another, overt pride for self-loathing, arrogance for self-doubt. From our own judgments of self, we create a prison of small-thinking. Or...

The wounds I have, the needs I have, the stories I have... All these can be faced and met with love. Maybe this sounds selfish, but I have found that my ability to love and serve and give and contribute in an ongoing, sustainable, integrated and healthy way involves self-love and self-care. I nourish myself and I am able to extend that nourishment to others. 

Simple things, like running, eating a good breakfast, taking time to journal and meditate. Setting up aid stations and dropping our confidence anchors of rhythms and rituals to be our best selves. 

When I practice self-love, I can stop thinking about me and full-heartedly be present with others. It's not avoidance of self, it is care to be able to extend yourself in care to others.

If we want to transcend selfishness, it starts with a healthy view of ourselves. We can believe we are worthy of love and belonging, worth taking care of, worth celebrating and investing in, and we can start nourishing ourselves. As we practice love for self, we move to a fuller love for others. We can work to take care of ourselves to spend less time "thinking of ourselves less."