Photo Credit: Aki Tolentino,

Is doing what you want selfish?

Sometimes, that’s what I feel. I’ve become accustomed to the more serious persona of a “responsible adult.” I should be of service to my family, my home, my customers and clients, in all the forms they appear for me.

The trouble with should is that it’s actually the word “could” plus “shame.”

And this can be exhausting.

But it feels good to be helpful, right? It feels good to solve problems, lend a hand, and to be of service. Is there a higher calling than to be of service to others?

Being of service to others and to our responsibilities has such powerful energy with it. But the energy of this type of action tends to be more outward facing than inward facing. Therefore, it can be unbalanced.

I’ve been spending more time lately on moving forward with what I want to do, create, and be–and this extra time created a conflict within me. I felt guilty.

But why?

It turns out that I had a little limiting message in my brain:

I’m being selfish when I work on doing what I want.

Wow. I didn’t see that one coming. So many of my relationships were built on–and energized by–the serving, supporting, and responsible nature of my actions to help others. So not only is doing what I want selfish, but it could hurt my relationships!

At least, that’s what I thought.

Then I realized that by neglecting myself and only supporting others to grow from where they are to where they want to be, I’m actually stunting my own growth. And that’s not what I want. I want to grow, evolve, create, and chase my dreams.

Okay, so now I shift my thoughts towards granting myself permission to do what I want to grow, experience, and further master myself.

But won’t that affect my relationships? The answer:

Reconnect with unconditional love

My coach helped me come to this conclusion.

When we realize that we have the ability to love ourselves at all times, regardless of our perceived stories or circumstances, we become complete; and we realize that relationships are there to amplify love, not to fill a void.

Okay. So, now what do I do?

Well, I start by giving myself permission to be who I want to be, to go where I want to go, and create what I want to create. Funny thing is this can be super small, like spending 10 minutes reading a book, practicing meditation, or journaling and then do the dishes–and in doing so, I become a more authentic and whole version of myself. I experience the refinement and grace that comes with self-mastery, and the irony is that, as I make those choices, others see what I’m doing and it may inspire them to do the same. So I end up right where I began: in a place of inspiration, support, and connection with others.

But the perspective’s much different.

Before, I came from a place of should (“could” + “shame”). Now, I come from the place of an honest, authentic, and whole being, and by becoming that person, I provide the deepest and greatest service that I can imagine: encouragement and inspiration for others to do the same in their own beautiful and unique way.

Will the old message that I’m being selfish keep coming up? Sure! It’s been there a while. But when it does, I can shift and remind myself that what I’m actually practicing is unconditional love.

Crossing T.E.A.’s

Let’s go above and below these Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions:

Going Below the T.E.A.
  • Thought: I’m being selfish when I do what I want to do
  • Emotions: Guilt or shame
  • Action: I’ll take care of others first, and when that’s done, if there’s time, I’ll do something small for myself
Going Above the T.E.A.
  • Thought: Doing what I want’s an expression of self-love
  • Emotion: Peace, joy, compassion, and love
  • Action: I take steps (big or small) doing what fills me with joy, feels aligned with my purpose, and moves me towards my dreams

“If you’re not where you want to be, keep going. Treat yourself like you’re the closest friend you’ve got. Celebrate the magnificent creature that you are. Don’t let anyone mess with you and your dreams, least of all yourself.”

~ Jen Sincero author of You are a BADASS

Photo Credit: Aki Tolentino,