August 3, 2012

You Pick the Winner: Selfish, Selfless or Self-Love? ~ Deborah Lange

Do you need their approval or do you need to listen to your own inner yearning? Do you really think you are being selfish?

Do you hate the thought of someone thinking you are selfish? Were you raised to think you have to do everything for everyone else to feel loved, and so you think you have to be selfless?

I always thought actions—which I now know to be self-love—were selfish. I did not want to be selfish so I chose to be selfless. I always thought I was a “good” person, always being there for others, accommodating others’ needs, having others’ approval. Then I learned that I was abandoning myself, and this then led to a spiral of being needy and wanting something from others because I was not giving myself the love that I needed.

My own inner-yearning for what brings me self-love finally triumphed after 36 years. Sharing this with a much younger client recently let her learn how to trust her inner-voice and follow a path of love and courage much earlier in life than I had.

“I just had to go to Paris,” she said. “I had my trip planned, I had a music contract for six months. But prior to leaving I met my boyfriend. All my friends, even my mother said, ‘Don’t go, what are you doing? You don’t want to lose him.’”

I said to Rebecca, “What are they really telling you?”

“I am getting older and they don’t want me be left on the shelf. They are also telling me I am being selfish if I go and do something for myself. They say if I want a relationship, I just have to give up things for myself.”

I said to Rebecca, “Well we know this is a prevailing view across the world but it is being challenged by young and old. From my experience, I know that when I take responsibility for my feelings and have integrity with what brings me joy, peace and inner contentment I can let go of what others tell me to do. I do not need to take actions to get approval from others. So what about you Rebecca, do you need their approval or do you need to listen to your own inner yearning? Do you really think you are being selfish?”

Rebecca burst out, “Deep inside me, I know that I need to sing in Paris! This will bring me inner joy and I know I will want to share that joy with my boyfriend, my mother and my friends. That is not being selfish.”  Rebecca felt strongly that this was something she needed to do for herself. Her mother and her friends made her doubt herself. Rebecca said, “I talked to my boyfriend. It was almost a test for him and I. Not that I thought that at the time. I told him I really needed to go. I asked him how he felt about that.”

He said, “It will be difficult as I would love to be with you day and night. But we will manage. If this is something you need to do, go and do it. Another time I will need to do something and it will be wonderful when I take my freedom to do what brings me bliss and you respect my choices.”

Rebecca shared her doubts with me even though her boyfriend was supportive. She shared how much it hurt when her mother told her she was being selfish. Rebecca went to Paris anyway. To her surprise, she felt so happy inside for going to sing in Paris, she knew that the choice was right for her. However, she still doubted whether she had made the right choice for herself and her boyfriend.

I talked with Rebecca about her yearning for self-love. Giving herself her deepest desires that were calling out for self-expression. When she felt the pain from her mother’s scolding she was reacting as a child, with unconscious beliefs of needing approval from her mother.

Then, Rebecca had an insight: feeling the pain and then choosing what brought her inner happiness was healing. She was an adult now and she did not have to seek out her mother’s approval for her life anymore.

I shared with Rebecca that 34 years ago I wanted to travel. My boyfriend asked me to marry him and promised we would travel together later. I chose to give up my dream and stay and be selfless. I still felt the need for adventure throughout our marriage. I left the marriage 21 years later.

I do not know what would have happened if I had traveled earlier in life and followed what my inner yearning needed to feel joy. I do know that my inner yearning did not give up. Some 34 years later I still wanted to travel and I have listened. I have sold my house and I am traveling as a free spirit, giving myself the freedom and adventures I hungered for in my early 20s.

Following my need for self-love, adventure, travel, sights, sounds and smells of people from diverse cultures, I am singing and smiling on the inside out.

I talked with Rebecca about the opportunity for her childhood wounds to be healed every time pain arises and even before pain arises through practicing self-love and discerning between being selfish and self-less. Rebecca now has the awareness of her choice and the understanding of how to choose—from a place of self-love—what brings her bliss, rather than choosing actions in her life based on gaining her mother’s approval and being self less.

I left Rebecca singing from the inside out!


Deborah Lange: My journey has taken me down many paths—on each path I have deepened my own wisdom and my ability to guide others to find their truth and give themselves the courage and the freedom to live a life that makes them come fully alive! I have been a teacher, a high flying consultant, a housewife, a mother, a caretaker for my dying Mother, a mosaic artist, a facilitator, a gardener, a researcher, an investor, a roadie for an Irish harpist, a coach and more. Now as I grow into eldership, I am sowing the seeds I have gathered of truth and wisdom so that I may help others on their journey, while I grow into my new role as author. Connect with me on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn—or send me an email at [email protected].


Editor: Alexandra Grace

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