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Why being "Self-Centred" IS good for you.

28 August 2010

There is a pervasive belief in our society that being Self-Centred is a bad thing that we are somehow selfish or self-indulgent if we choose to give our selves the time and attention we need. In addition we’re brought up being firmly told to put others first before our own feelings and needs.

The phrase Self-Centred has come to mean being selfish and as a result it holds negative and damaging effects which are two fold:

Firstly as a result of fearing being labelled selfish, we ignore our inner world; our true feelings and needs.

Secondly, by putting others before us, not only do we neglect ourselves but we do others harm by imposing our beliefs about what we think they need, feel and believe, rather than allowing them to stay Self-Centred and tell us what they think, feel and need in their own time and way if they choose to.

Therefore I’ve decided I’m going to reclaim this phrase with its true and more accurate, helpful meaning that I believe it holds. 

Instead, I’m advocating making the priority of your focus and attention You, and more specifically; your inner-world. Too often we focus on the external world, events, relationships, money, other people’s feelings or situations in our lives, whilst down right neglecting our deepest feelings, intuitions and dreams.

It’s no wonder we spend so much time feeling anxious, uncertain and confused. We are ignoring everything going on inside of us, whilst simultaneously being drawn outside of our self to focus on things external to us.

So many of us grow up firmly moulded by our parents and others to believe that it’s wrong to focus on our needs and feelings, and that it’s more “polite” and “proper” to be considerate of others and their feelings before or even instead of our own.

And whilst I’m not advocating being out and out rude, I am taking issue with this damaging attitude because the result is we end going through life disconnected to our self. And when we are disconnected from our self we are unhappy and unfulfilled. Even if what we are feeling is sadness, grief, depression or anger, we don’t get to feel that and thus learn and grow from it, because we’re not allowing ourselves to experience what wants to be experienced inside of us.

What kinds of things do we typically focus on instead of our inner life?

  • Other peoples’ or animals’ feelings, needs, ambitions, problems, gifts
  • Work, projects, events, really any situations in our external world
  • Money: a lack of it, paying bills, buying things, etc
  • What other people think and expect of us
  • Caring for our children, partner, animals at the expense of our own well being
  • Achieving things, meeting deadlines, sticking rigidly to plans
  • Entertainment, others’ creative works, books, films, TV, etc.
  • Creating for external purposes. For example, writing. Writing this article which although comes from my inner work is an aspect of my external world; as my focus is on making it beneficial to you the reader.

As someone well trained in focussing on the external world at the expense of my inner life, as well as being “too busy being busy” for most of my life, I finally realised recently I was doing so at the expense of my Soul’s needs; after all how can you hear your true yearnings and inner guidance if you’re always busy and focussed outside of your self?

As I slowly and painstakingly started to turn this pattern around in myself and finally began to turn my gaze back onto and into me, I realised how much I’d been missing out on, it was astonishing!

And I’m learning how to re-train my gaze, little by little each day, so that I remain more and more Self-Centred. As a result, I feel more present, more grounded, surer of myself and my decisions and happier.

And even when what I’m feeling is difficult or unpleasant, I still feel happier. It sounds crazy but I do, because they are my feelings, whatever they are and that is how I am feeling in that moment, so it’s okay. 

What I have noticed since I took this shift is that very swiftly, in a matter of a few weeks in fact, the external events and situations in my life, all seemed to come into shape more easily and more fruitfully for me. It seemed that once I really took time each day to focus deeply on me and my inner life, my outer life started to move forward and very positively.

Now I’ve read about this in so many self-help and spiritual books, but it never seemed to happen for me, so I was, to say the least, sceptical and frustrated. But I can’t refute the evidence of what has happened in my life since beginning to do this. And what’s great about this is that I am only dependent on me to achieve this, it is down to me and no one else, friends, mentor, therapist or teacher, not even the horses. Only I can switch my gaze around and only I can really get to know and love all the parts of myself; for better and for worse. This in itself has been immensely empowering and a much needed and long overdue act of self-love.

Towards the later years of his life Jung writes in his memoir, Memories, Dreams, Reflections about his inner world versus his external world having more significance to him overall. That is where he found his richness and real life; I’m starting to realise what he was talking about.

So many people who come to me and the horses to heal themselves struggle with this very issue and it repeatedly gets in the way of everything they try to do in life, leaving an enduring sense of disconnection from the Self. I’ve learnt through the guidance of the horses that when I keep my focus on me, whilst simultaneously being respectful of them, their feelings and personal space, they happily interact and hang out with me.

When I drop my focus off me and get overly concerned with them or an external situation in my life, things start to get difficult and stressful. And, I know now to spend quality time with myself first, build my relationship with myself first and get clear about what I’m feeling and then connect to them, or other people. It really does work and makes life so much more enjoyable and rewarding.Plus, I experience vastly less stress as a result; what a great change indeed!

The aim then is to work towards achieving a balance, where you turn your attention inwards as often as you can and then consciously step outside of yourself and be in the external world; of course the ultimate aim is to be able to achieve a continuous flow going on, where you move seamlessly in and out as required and desired.

So to conclude, the act of re-framing and therefore re-claiming this description for one’s self, to be Self-Centred can be a true act of self-love and self-worth. I’ve decided I am worth giving myself the attention and focus I need and therefore my mission is to remain Self-Centred from now on.

And I also choose to disregard the judgmental and hurtful slur of being selfish, after all, let me ask you, would you describe a horse who gets down to take a really good roll, a big mouthful of hay, or a snooze in the afternoon sun selfish?

Here of some of the ways to connect to your inner world and to achieve most benefit I recommend doing these on a daily basis:

  • Body scanning. In whatever way it works for you to connect with your prominent bodily sensations, stay present with them and ask for information for yourself. This for me is the number one way to turning my focus inwards, for getting information and for shifting stuck emotions. 
  • Breathing. Taking in several long, deep breathes, and reminding yourself that your breath is your life, it is your direct route to your self, it is yours and yours only, and once you can learn to connect with your breath you are well on the way to living a more balanced inner life and relating to others with sensitivity, as it helps you stay in your centre and can even help others to relax. It’s a vital and necessary skill. 
  • Meditating. Again, in whatever way works for you. Create a space in your home or have a special place outside in nature where you love to be and sit. Close your eyes and breathe, and start to listen to your thoughts and feelings. Ask for guidance and information from your higher self and your guides. Just spending even 5 or 10 minutes a day, each day, can start to make a difference and help shift your focus inwards, giving you a richer and calmer inner sense. 
  • Journeying. A powerful and very helpful technique Shamanic practitioners use that you can learn, to access information, guidance and healing in the Spiritual world to understand and move your world in the physical realm forward. A good startingpoint for this is Michael Harner’s book: Way of the Shaman. I also run workshops to learn how to Journey, please visit the home page for details of current workshops. 
  • Building an alter in or near your home, that you place objects, pictures, wishes, etc, on that hold meaning for you and which guide you towards your dreams and visions. To cement your authentic wishes by spending time daily at your alter, energising your dreams and honouring your authentic self.

Other ways include:

  • Daily Journaling
  • Drawing/painting
  • Writing poetry/stories
  • Regularly dialoguing with your various personalities/voices especially your false-self voices to get to know them and what their needs are
  • Reading helpful books and reflecting on your own feelings and experiences as you read, making notes to keep and refer to
  • Frequently spending time in your favourite place, especially in nature and with animals you find healing and supportive.

How easy or hard do you find it to be Self Centred?

What often takes your attention away from You?

What have you found helps you stay Self Centred?

© Angela Dunning, 28th August 2010

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