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Recently I have had a few clients say to me that they want to live a life that makes their heart sing–they want to go back to school, start a different job, take on a new challenge but they are are afraid that they are being selfish. Yes, selfish. The idea that doing what you love, going after your dream and living a life that you are passionate about is selfish makes me so sad. According to Webster Dictionary selfish means; concerned excessively or exclusively for oneself; seeing or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure or well-being without regard for others.
Somewhere a long the line we got the idea confused that if we change our life direction, spice up our lives, make a shift, or even do what’s best for us (even if it’s out of the norm) we are being selfish. WRONG. For example, here’s Sharon.* Sharon has 2 children age 4 and 7. She is active in her children’s lives and enjoys being a mother who participates in her children’s day to day activities. She has taken the safe traditional route, graduated from college, gotten a quality job and now works part time to take care of the children. She woke up recently and asked herself is there more out there? I want to live my life with more passion and excitement then what I have now. I want to engage in a job that is uniquely me, to find a career that makes my heart sing to be well rounded and vibrant. She is sick and tired of feeling hum-drum as if life is passing her by. She makes an appointment to come in and see me. For the first 3 sessions she is totally pumped about her new ideas, the new potential of her life, she is vibrant and engaged in the possibilities. She is thinking about dreams that have long been buried, she is exploring ideas that have been pushed to the side and forgotten. Then session 4 she walks in the office and she says, I can’t make theses changes, I am being selfish, I am not thinking of my family, I am putting my needs first.
Whoa, back up the bus…by figuring out what you love, by determining ways to make yourself happy, show your little girls what it means to find your joy…you are being selfish? I think not. By limiting herself to a life of humdrum mediocrity..this is what I have always done, Sharon is showing her children life is meant to be boring and mediocre. She isn’t challenging her daughters to go after their dreams, get an education, be all they can be. She is proving to them that life is stagnant and stale and the joy ends after you turn 35.
Yes it would be selfish to leave your children for good, hike across Zimbabwe and never look back. But going after your dreams? Expanding your activities to include things that makes your heart sing? That isn’t’ selfish that is fully engaging in life.
So the next time you start dreaming about what ‘could be next’ and the thought “I am too selfish” pops into your head, stop yourself? Are you really selfish? Or are you just wanting to live with passion and power. It is when we embrace our power, accept our passion we become the best us possible. In fact I would argue it is selfish to NOT share our gifts with the world. It is selfish to live small, to not face our fears or face our fears. When we show our children and those around us what it means to grab life by the horns and fully engage in a job we love and a life that enriches us we are giving them the greatest gift possible, our selves. We are showing them happiness IS possible, life IS full of ups and downs, making your heart sing is not selfish it is a duty to ourselves.
*Sharon is a completely fictional character.
Thanks to wonderferret for the freaky display of selfish.