Everything You Do is Selfish

Everything you do is Selfish.

The sooner you accept that, the happier you’ll be.

I don’t mean you’re some terrible a**hole, only thinking about yourself.

I’d bet money that you’re a good person, hard working, and you do lots for others. But even the things you do “for others” come from a selfish motivation – you want to feel good.

We’re all hard-wired for pleasure. It doesn’t mean we’re hedonists, but we all want to feel good.

Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, you do things because doing them makes you feel better than not doing them.

You care for your aging parents, help a struggling co-worker, feed your crying baby in the middle of the night, or pick up trash on the street that you didn’t toss, because doing those things make you feel better than not doing them.

Right now you may rolling your eyes and giving me a big fat “Ya but… there are things I have to do, I can’t avoid them, and I wouldn’t choose them. I’ve got obligations.”

Let me say it again: You’re doing all of them for selfish reasons. And the sooner you accept that the happier you’ll be.

You visit your grumpy aunt Bessie out of a sense of obligation. There’s no fun in it for you. You do it for her.
Really: Visiting her frees you of guilt, and right now that feels better than doing something else.

Even though you’re busy, you volunteer at hospice care, regularly. People think you must be a saint.
Reality check: The honesty, intimacy and quiet you experience in that time touches you deeply and feeds your soul.

You’re staying in a loveless marriage, sacrificing your own happiness, for the sake of your kids.
Truth is: Right now you’re choosing to keep things stable for your kids, because that feels better to you than uprooting them.

Your self is the center of everything you do.

Having said that, I’d like to contradict myself right now:

There actually are times of total selflessness. Those times when you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing that you lose your sense of being a separate individual. You become one with life.

It’s the composer who merges with the music as it pours out of her. The dancer who becomes the dance – is being danced – as his movements create the dance. It’s the hockey player who loses himself in the game, and becomes so attuned to the puck that he’s always where the puck is going. It’s the meditator who completely dissolves and becomes the whole universe.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls this state Flow. Mystics call it the Awakened State.

You’ve probably experienced this state of selflessness at times in your life. It’s freeing to lose your sense of self. It’s enlivening to merge with the energy of life. But how many of us live in that state?

Mostly we all live as if we’re separate, experiencing life from inside ourselves. And in that state everything we do is selfish.

If you’re willing to accept that, you can bring peace to everything you do. Here’s how:

  1. See everything you do as Your Choice.

  2. If you feel like you have to do something you don’t want to do, find the real reason you’re doing it. It may be several steps removed from what you’re doing now. It may be buried deep under some resistance or boredom. You’ll find your motivation down there.

  3. Listen to your language and change it to match your desire. If you say “I have to…”, switch it out for “I want to…”, “I’m going to…” or “I choose to…” Language matters. How you talk to yourself can change the way you feel.

“I have to do the dishes” becomes “I want to do the dishes”. In that moment you may not feel that you want to, but underneath your resistance, you can feel your desire to wake up to a clean kitchen. So you choose to do the dishes, because you want that more than you want to wake to a mess in the morning.


The other way to overcome your resistance.

There are two ways we usually deal with resistance:

1. Push through it.

2. Succumb to it.

There are times when pushing through resistance is exactly the right thing to do. Until this summer when the ocean where I live became very warm, every time I’d go in I’d think “It’s too cold”. I’d want to rush back to shore and watch from the beach. But then I’d miss the fun of diving into waves and being pummeled by the surf.

So instead I’d focus on the fun and let it pull me through my resistance, running into the ocean as fast as I could. My body always adjusts to the temperature, and I have a great time.

Then there are times when it makes sense to just succumb to resistance. For some time I’d been wanting to write some of the practices I’ve developed over the years for myself and my clients, and offer them as a sort of manual. I tried to force myself to sit down and write at the same time each day as real writers advised. But I couldn’t find the juice. My internal voices said succumbing to my resistance was based in fear or laziness. I tried to push through my resistance and keep my bum in the chair as I was advised to do, but there was no pleasure it in. (how ironic would it be to write about pleasure while feeling none?)

So I succumbed to my resistance, and did other things. Pleasurable things. It took some experimenting for me to effectively describe these practices in words on a page. Now the words seem to be flowing out of me with greater ease, in my own rhythm and pace. (You can subscribe below to get yourself a free chapter)

These two approaches will work in different circumstances, but if you only operate with these two you’ll miss much of the wisdom your resistance wants to teach you.

There’s a third and less known way of dealing with resistance, and it’s this:

3. Honor it.

A client of mine has developed a successful program that other people purchase and teach to their clients.  Over the past year she’s been refining it based on the teachers’ feedback. As she was implementing the feedback she noticed that there was one change she kept avoiding. She would distract herself with other things, and kept missing her own deadlines for making the change. She knew she had to do it but she was procrastinating, and feeling bad about herself for procrastinating.  So I recommended we examine her resistance to getting it done.

What we discovered underneath the resistance was her wisdom that this change would alter the integrity of the program, which was built on honesty, intimacy, and face to face support.  She wasn’t consciously aware that this was at the core of her procrastination, but this wisdom was lurking under her resistance all along. Once she said it out loud she knew it was true. Once she understood why she wasn’t making this change, even though some teachers had requested it, her confidence in herself, the program, and its power soared. Examining her resistance made her revisit the core values of the program.

She wrote to me: I’ve never really thought of it in this way before but I honestly LOVE exploring resistance! I love my instincts.  My resistance to something is kind of like my instincts saying, “DON’T Do this.” Since it’s a stopping/slowing/reversing motion it doesn’t feel as good as “Do this.” 

I really didn’t know why I had this resistance. It didn’t become clear until you and I talked about it the other day.  It makes sense to me now why I don’t like the idea – because, it breaks the human connection, and the key to [this program] is the human connection.  But it became crystal clear when we talked it through. 
The beauty-part of this is that now, with a clear understanding of my resistance, I can take proper action. Instead of just [making the changes] because people have asked for them, yet not feeling good about it, I can really explore if there is a way to keep the human connection while utilizing these modalities.  I’m totally open to seeing if I can.  I would actually love it if it could work.  That would be win-wins all around. And, if it truly doesn’t work, I can then say clearly and with integrity that that will not be part of the program, explain clearly why, and then let the instructors figure out how to deal with that on their own.
~ Coaching Client
(printed with client’s permission)
Can’t you just hear the enthusiasm and confidence in her voice? I promise you it was a big change from how she’d been feeling before examining her resistance.
1. She could have pushed through her resistance and done what she thought she should have done to make the teachers happy. She could have continued feeling bad about it, not really knowing why.
2. She could have continued succumbing to her resistance, worrying about what she thought she should be doing, procrastinating and zapping her confidence and creative energy.
3. By honoring it she discovered the underlying wisdom, made clearer decisions, felt empowered and created a kick-a** program, the teachers love.
How do you honor your own resistance?
There are many ways: You can speak with it, write to it, draw or dance with with it.  Whatever modality suits you best, here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Treat it like a wise friend or teacher with something valuable to share.
  • Respect it, ask questions of it, listen closely, get intimate.
  • You can ask it whatever you like.
  • Then get quiet. Breathe. Listen for an answer.
  • Know that it’s an ally in your evolution. Not the enemy.

And if you really want to understand your resistance, become it.

  • Embody it. How would it sit, stand, move? Do that.
  • What would it think, how would it speak? Do that.
  • Experience yourself as the resistance, and feel what motivates your actions.

By becoming the resistance you are no longer separate from it, in reaction to it, nor the victim of it. This can be a very empowering exercise.

If you know someone stuck in their own resistance, please share this with them as a potential way through.


Drop a Love Bomb and Feel Better

Want a good reason to Drop a Love Bomb today?

Do it for your brain! and not just your brain… do it for every cell in your body. Love will change you from the inside.

For days you’ve been paying attention to one person with the intention of remembering or discovering something you love about them. Feeling that love. Then expressing it to them. I told you this would benefit you. Maybe you’re noticing that. Maybe not yet. But here’s some of what’s going on. You are changing your brain.

Neural pathways are routes of communication in your body. As you learned throughout your life, certain pathways became well developed. These neural pathways became the roadmap of how you think and behave.

Imagine that for many years you’ve been walking a path from your house to your friend’s house. With all the wear and tear over time this path has become wide and flat and easy to walk. You’ve traveled back and forth for so long that you no longer think about it.  It’s automatic ~ A habit. A neural pathway is like that path.

By practicing the 30 Day Love Explosion you are forming a new habit, developing new neural pathways. It’s like taking a new path to your friend. It’s through a beautiful forest, full of lush plants, and gorgeous fragrant flowers. It’s a much more enjoyable path. But there’s resistance. You need to cut the path, you’re not totally sure of it yet. It’s not as fast as the old route. But over time as you keep walking this new path, your resistance will fade, the path will become clearer and easier to walk. Eventually it will become automatic and voila – you’ve got a new habit.

Your new habit is love, and love creates a chemical change in your body. By deliberately paying attention each day to what you love about the person you chose, you are developing neural pathways in your brain that are feeding your cells with dopamine, seratonin, oxytocin and more of the yummy love chemicals that make you feel so dang good!

So if you’ve been feeling good during the 30 Day Love Explosion now you know why.

Some of you may be wondering “If it feels so good, why am I not doing it daily? Why do I forget? How come I find excuses not to?”

Good questions. Just like cutting a new path through a beautiful forest is more work than walking along the old path you are use to, your cells are use to the old well-worn neuropathways. Even if those old pathways are feeding your cells stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, your cells have become use to them and will get their information from these well developed pathways out of “habit”.  It’s easier.  It’s the equivalent of walking to your friend’s house on the old familiar path before you even realize you’re on it.

It takes deliberate practice to stay on this new path. So, don’t beat yourself up if you forget some days. Don’t worry if you feel resistance to this new way. Stick with it. Practice it deliberately.

Know that you’re practicing a new habit that creates love pathways in your brain and  feeds your cells with feel-good chemicals. You really are doing this for yourself.

Here’s to you and your daily practice. Bombs Away!!!

A keepsake of The 30 Day Love Explosion

Save Your Love Bombs

My first idea for you comes from my friend Anne who wrote to me saying that she chose her teenage daughter Vanessa, but since she’s a teenager going through all that tough stuff teenage girls go through, not the least of which is the need to pull away from their mothers, Anne felt that love bombing her every day with something specific might actually annoy Vanessa. (I remember being a teenager. She’s probably right!)  And the last thing Anne wants  is push her daughter away. So, what’s a mom to do?

I recommended that Anne write something she’d like to say to Vanessa every day. She could write it in a journal or just on slips of paper that she keeps in an envelope, a box, or a jar. Then in a few months time, when Vanessa leaves for college she can slip it into her luggage, or mail it with a care package. That way, when she’s thousands of miles from home and in need of mom’s love, she can read the notes ~ Savouring them one a day, or binging on them all at once.

So thanks to Anne, I came up with an idea for you: (and you don’t need to be dealing with a sensitive teenager to use it)

  • During the 30 days of June: As well as telling your person 30 things you love about them, write down what you say each day on a slip of paper and keep it in a jar. Keep the jar to yourself.
  • At the end of the month: give your person the jar full of your little love notes.
  • They can keep it somewhere they’ll see it regularly to remember the many ways you love them.
  • In the future they can pull a random note out every day and let the love bombs continue.

What are some of your ideas for the 30 day love explosion? Please share them in the comments.

Love Debra

*All names have been changed to protect the love.