Are You Selfish or Selfless

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in; their true beauty is revealed only if their light is from within.  Elizabeth Kubler Ross

My 96 year old mother recently died and we held the celebration of her life ‘service’ over the weekend. In preparation for this I was searching through quotes and poems that spoke to me about what I felt my mother represented. This was one that I kept aside, but decided in the end, to use a couple of longer poems. It can be easy to be positive and easy to get along with when things are going well, when the stress levels are lower. This is because the chemicals in our brain that relate to positivity, connection and empathy are being released. However it can be a different story once the stress centre of our brain is stimulated to release the chemicals that shut down the part that is good at connecting with other people or seeing the bigger picture.

My Mum was brought up in a time and a household where it was stressed that we live a life putting others before ourselves, and she did this to the end of her life, even in the rest home offering us and the carers a cuppa when she was offered one. Her life revolved around seeing to our needs, the needs of the grandchildren and subsequently great-grandchildren. Those caring habits of a lifetime shone through even when she was in the darkness of dying. This habit of giving first is gaining a lot more recognition again these days. There is a chemistry to giving in both the giver and the receiver that has been measured to improve our physiology, which in turn makes us feel better about ourselves as the giver. However I have concerns, a belief, that in the joy of giving, in the addiction of feeling good, in the putting of others first, that we don’t devalue ourselves. I have clients who decided at a very young age that to be loved or appreciated they had to be selfless and in the process don’t love or appreciate themselves. We have to work through the shadow of being ‘selfish.’ We all have a part of us that can be selfish and if we acknowledge that part and love it because it allows us to do some things that may also impact others as well as ourselves in a positive way. So where in your life are you being selfless or selfish and can you let your light shine in both places?

Enjoy experiencing both ends of the spectrum!

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