Monday, February 15, 2010

Changing the Old Negative Idea of Selfish to "SELFNESS"

When my generation of seniors was growing up, most of us were taught to place everyone else’s needs and desires above our own. Behaving this way was supposed to show that we were thoughtful, loving and helpful, as well as a shining reflection of our parents. Any indication that we were egotistically putting self first was looked upon negatively as selfish by our parents, teachers and other authority figures and considered right up there with life’s mortal sins.

In the decades between the 1930s and 1950s, no one seemed to realize that denying self could have damaging effects on every aspect of our lives – including our physical health. The result of this concept of child rearing – teaching children to put themselves last – has created countless numbers of individuals who believed we were not lovable, or worthy of good in our lives. This lack of worthiness meant that we failed to fulfill our own needs. Undoubtedly this contributed to or is wholly responsible for many difficulties, including our nation having the highest number of obesity-related health problems in the world.

It wasn’t until after 1960 when the “me-first generation” came into being that people began to recognize the two extremes. The truth is that there are countless millions of us who never bought into the blatant egotism of the “me-first” concept, and still haven’t replaced our equally unbalanced programming with more healthful thought processes.

We don’t have to look past our own families to see examples of loved ones, primarily women, but also men who were inculcated unknowingly into our culture’s twisted badge of honor concerning ignoring our own needs and placing others first even to our own detriment. Without being fully aware that they have a choice and can honor both, many mature adults, whether as professional caregivers or for love of family, continue sacrificing health and happiness in the pursuit of being martyrs without a valid cause.

Fortunately it doesn’t have to be that way. We now know that no matter what undesirable thoughts we hold deep in our subconscious – or how long we’ve held these thoughts – we can change them and in the process change our lives.

Being human, it sometimes takes a health problem or a serious life event to let us know we are out of balance in some area of our lives. I am grateful that my body’s wake-up call wasn’t the equivalent of being hit in the forehead by a 2x4, but it did the job. I took the time to turn within and realistically assess my life, my habits and what contributed to the ailment. I soon realized that my diet wasn’t appropriate for this condition, neither was my cavalier attitude toward exercise, especially in dealing with stress, which if you’re alive you evidently have a lot of. And a great deal of this derived from always taking care of others but neglecting myself.

It also soon became obvious that, like many others, I still held some level of conflicting feelings about loving myself enough to place my needs first and to take responsibility for the care of my body. In realizing this and acting upon it, I recognized the core concept that was missing from my life since childhood: Self Love and Self Care. The difference in the approach – from trying to “force” my body to do what I wanted, to loving and cooperating with it – has made a remarkable difference in my ability to stay committed and disciplined.

It is crystal clear that if we’re not nurturing and loving ourselves with good physical care and looking after our mental, emotional and spiritual aspects, then at some point we will experience an imbalance in our lives. The result is ultimately an illness or disease process, or a residual unhappiness with ourselves, others and our lives – or all the above. Then, not only are we not taking care of ourselves, we aren’t able to care for others, either.

This pattern will continue until we stop and recognize the powerful and subconscious directives that have determined our lives, and replace them with new, positive and life-enhancing thoughts.

The error in our parents’ methodology was that it put the cart before the horse. First and foremost, children must be taught self love and self care, and this must be respected and supported in order to achieve balance of body, mind and spirit – wholeness. As we love and care for our physical vehicles, which allow us life on this planet, we are able to live from the highest and best within us. This enlightened approach creates a wellspring of joy, love and peace within, which honors us – and from which we can more healthfully serve ourselves, others, life and God.

Here are some positive affirmations to use: I love and care for myself. I now willingly release any thoughts, beliefs, fears, needs or life patterns in my subconscious that create imbalance in my body, mind and spirit. I am perfect, whole and complete right now.
Copyright © 2010 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s books: “Tea with Elisabeth,” “You Can Live A Balanced Life In An Unbalanced World” and “The Heart Knows the Way – How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within” are available at, other online booksellers, bookstore chains, such as Barnes & Noble and Borders, and to the trade from Ingram Book Co., Baker & Taylor and other wholesalers.