January 9, 2014 by Cathy Vartuli

How Guilt and Feelings of Selfishness Can Trap You… and Your Whole Family

Thank you SO much for your feedback, suggestions and words of encouragement and thanks. We had hundreds of responses, and while we’ve gotten back to almost everyone, we’re still catching up with replies.

One of the options is a clear winner… and we’ll be announcing it next Tuesday! Watch your email to see who won. Rick and I will be sharing something we’re really excited about then, too!


How Guilt and Feelings of Selfishness Can Trap You… and Your Whole Family

“You’re too selfish! You only think of yourself!”

Guilt and shame producing phrases echo through many people’s childhood. Parents, teachers, grandparents, siblings, even complete strangers use those words, and others repeat them.

Those phrases are used because they work… at least in the short run. They are great way to “cope with” and manage children. Here’s why…

SelfishThe primitive brain’s first and foremost job is to keep you alive. It KNOWS that when you’re little, without the people who love and protect you, you’re hyena food. So there is a high priority on being acceptable to your “tribe.”

Being told that you’re selfish can create a subconscious trigger… better shape up or they’ll reject you. Better shape up… or you’ll be abandoned and die.

Depending on how the words are used, and what else is going on in the child’s life… those words might make them toe the line for a bit, or they might cause a “freeze” response that keeps that fear stuck in the body and mind of that child. Even as an adult, there may be an almost compulsive need to please others and never ever be considered selfish.

The shame and guilt will certainly make the child easier to control. It makes it easier to cope with their needs, wants, and desires (probably because they’re afraid to mention them very much). And it can leave scars that prevent those children from becoming really powerful adults.

Let me give you an example. When Rick and I asked for feedback about the topic of our next program, a number of people replied that they LOVED the idea of one or the other (or both), but they felt selfish taking the time to improve how they felt. They were worried about taking time from work or family, and were concerned that it was “wrong.”

It’s so easy to still get caught up in the guilt and shame, and it’s not your fault! The primitive brain doesn’t know that it’s safe to do things for you now.

You aren’t a little kid. You can certainly enjoy paying attention to your family and spending time with them. That is important. So is work. AND it is also crucially important for your health and well-being to take time for yourself, too.

(Taking the parking brake off on your life can do great things for your family and friends, too, of course.)

Your kids learn from your behavior. Whether they want to or not, they copy you. If you clear your blocks and start living a different life, you’re role modeling that behavior for your children–including your adult children. If they see you being calm and resilient, their primitive brains copy your energy.

Spending a little time now, to get quality time and great role modeling for your family later, is a great investment.

Spending some time now to clear blocks and be more resilient now… to become more focused and empowered at work for the rest of your life… is also a great investment.

It may feel selfish to focus on yourself, but it can also be really smart and very generous. If it allows you to have more give, and to offer better habits and connection, it can be the gift of a lifetime!

On airplanes, they say to put your breathing mask on first, before taking care of others. It’s smart and generous to make sure everyone gets through safely, and that’s the best way. The same is true here. Take the time to reprogram your primitive brain, or clear your self-sabotaging behaviors, so you’ll have more energy and love to offer to your family. AND you can teach them how to live the lives they want to!

Lets do some tapping! As long as your primitive brain is terrified of being selfish, it will be hard to move forward in self-care. The more terrified your primitive brain is, the more it will fight anything new.

Karate Chop: Even though I was told it was selfish, I do want to do things for me, too.

Even though I’m so afraid of being selfish, it hurt so much back then…It may not be selfish to learn new skills and patterns. In fact, it might be the most generous thing I do!

Even though they said I was selfish, and I might have been in their eyes, I choose to soothe myself and know it’s ok to learn new things and pay attention to my needs and wants.

Top of the Head: They said I was selfish. Ouch!
Eyebrow: I’m so afraid of being selfish!
Side of the Eye: I’ll do anything to avoid that word!
Under the Eye: People sometimes control me with that word.
Under the Nose: I feel so guilty!
Chin: I feel ashamed.
Collarbone: I want to shift out of this…
Under the Arm: But I’m not sure how.

Top of the Head: I am tapping.
Eyebrow: That’s a good sign!
Side of the Eye: I know tapping is good for me…
Under the Eye: And my family.
Under the Nose: I know tapping helps me be better  in my work, too.
Chin: Maybe it is good to take care of myself sometimes…
Collarbone: I like doing things that help us all!
Under the Arm: And I’m doing one of them right now.

Top of the Head: I don’t want to appear selfish.
Eyebrow: I don’t want them to hurt.
Side of the Eye: Maybe I can do something for me for a short time each day.
Under the Eye: And allow myself to recharge.
Under the Nose: Maybe I could invite them to try it with me…
Chin: I can role-model these changes… whether they go along or not.
Collarbone: I wonder…
Under the Arm: If I were really selfish…
Top of the Head: Would I worry about being selfish this much?

Deep breath.

Notice what you’re feeling in your body…. and what thoughts are coming up for you. Let yourself relax and allow yourself to take care of YOU for once.

Cathy and Rick

P.S. Remember to watch for the special announcement on Tuesday!!

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