When Hazel reached out to me to she was in a state of confusion. "I've been invited to apply for a new position in my company that I really want but I'm afraid that if I do my family will think I'm being selfish" she lamented. "We will need to make changes in the family if I to pursue this opportunity. I'm not used to putting my own desires first."
Hazel's feelings are common for people who can't imagine a "mountaintop" life that allows for pursuing one's untapped potential. A fear of being labeled as "selfish" keeps people like Hazel in a silent inner battle. While they desperately want greater success -- to develop themselves and their talents -- they feel guilty at the same time.
The struggle to find a healthy balance afflicts women and men alike. While not discussed openly, a fear of being too selfish is common for people who feel compelled to develop their spirit, mind, heart, body and/or talents. Too many people struggle to put themselves first - even some of the time. Rather than find an open path toward a mountaintop life of true satisfaction, people will run into one dead end after another. Those who are afraid of being too selfish will undoubtedly become too selfless. In the big picture, these are both dead ends. They leave us filling empty.
The truth is, we are all born selfish because being selfish ensured our survival. Have you ever met an unselfish toddler? Of course not, because they don't exist! As long as parents meet their child's needs and at the same time set healthy limits, the child will naturally grow beyond its all-consuming, selfish approach to life. Being a "little" selfish in life is actually healthy as long as you know when you are out of control and have gone too far with putting yourself first. Life will become very narrow if you are only focused on yourself.
Finding the right balance in life means that you are getting your own needs met while meeting your responsibilities without resentment. If you become too selfish, people around you tune you out and avoid you when they may have offered you a much-needed helping hand or once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There will never be enough money, fun, connection, or attention to fill the captain's hat when self-centeredness runs the ship.
When we don't allow ourselves to be a "little" selfish, we will undoubtedly become too "selfless." People who deny their own needs and desires and spend their time, energy and even money on others to their own detriment are too selfless. While it's wonderful to be caring and generous, being too selfless leads to resentment, angst and fear that you are wasting your life.
The most successful people in life know how to be a "little" selfish and enjoy even greater success. While each of us needs to define "a little" based on our own values and life circumstances, keep this in mind: It is important to our health to have fun in life, to celebrate, and to meet our own needs met. Finding the right balance will also allow you to find joy in serving others.
During our work together, Hazel learned how to talk openly with her family about the opportunities she wanted to explore. To her surprise, her husband and children were more supportive than she had ever imagined they would be. Rather than thinking she was being too selfish they ensured her that they would take on more responsibility at home so she could pursue her own dreams.
Had Hazel been wrong about her family? Was it just in her imagination that she feared they would resist her wanting to pursue a new job? Hazel learned a valuable lesson. She realized it was a self-fulfilling prophecy; that her well thought out and positive communication approach opened up the opportunity for her family to support her. By Hazel being self-affirming, she taught her family to affirm her as well.
What are signs that you may need to be a "little" more selfish? The four most common are frustration, isolation, powerlessness and jealousy. These are all emotional signals that you have lost balance in your life. Frustration will drain and cripple you and make you view all experiences in life negatively. Isolation will reduce your connection to family and community and prevent you from sharing your gifts with others. Powerlessness will create feelings of weakness, helplessness and hopelessness and prevent your life energy from building. Jealousy, a very strong and toxic emotion, is telling you that you may be projecting your own talents onto others thinking they have more right than you to pursue them.
Once Hazel created an opportunity for her family to affirm her she successfully interviewed and received the new position. She enjoyed her work more than ever. To her amazement and contrary to her fear, it was her decision to be a "little" selfish that allowed her family to grow closer and enjoy even more of what life has to offer.
Daphne Michaels, author of the bestselling book, "Mountaintop Prosperity: Move Quickly to New Heights in Life, Work and Money" is a leading expert in guiding others to their highest potential. She has helped thousands of people for more than twenty years and is considered to be a pioneer in the field of how tapping personal energy improves daily life. Her life-long journey includes formal training in the social sciences and integral psychology and rewarding work as a licensed psychotherapist, consultant and executive trainer. Mountaintop Prosperity is available at Amazon and bookstores nationwide. For more information: www.ReachMyMountaintop.com