We live in a time of saving things. We spend much of our time and thoughts focused on how to fix the things, people, and world around us. This act of going out into the world and fixing its perceived problems is often viewed as selfless and sacred service. And in so many ways, it is. Putting our own needs aside and helping those in need can be a beautiful act of courage.

But I wonder, at the same time, if it’s also a mask. I wonder if by constantly looking outward and finding things to fix we’ve become a society that doesn’t know how to look inside and love what we find. I wonder if it’s the world that needs saving, or if the world is simply expressing what so many of us feel inside. I wonder if we’ve so ignored the little voice inside asking for love that the Universe feels compelled to scream at us in the form of war, disease, and planetary disasters. And I wonder if it’s even possible to save the hearts of the world when so many of us are nursing broken hearts ourselves.

I wonder if it’s even possible to save the hearts of the world when so many of us are nursing broken hearts ourselves.

I know these questions carry a great deal of emotional complexity. I know that each of us is doing our best, so when questions like this surface it’s easy to feel attacked. So let’s breathe together a few times and open up to an honest conversation from loving hearts.

I have a friend with debilitating cancer who’s in extreme pain, the kind of pain that causes me to ponder what kind of universe allows such things to happen to its people. She’s suffering is a way that makes it nearly impossible to find a lesson or any good in it. And yet she called me the other day to see how I was doing. I had to think a while before answering truthfully, “I’m good.” It almost seemed unfair for me to be feeling good in the midst of her suffering. I know that by focusing on others my friend is coping with her own pain, and I suppose that’s probably a good thing. But still I wonder if it’s also part of the cause of her disease. Has a lifetime of putting her own feelings last manifested itself in a body with a disease that now requires my friend to focus on herself or die? Is this the purpose of her disease — a sad, tired and abandoned body finally finding a tragic way to be heard?

My wife, Dr. Christy, and I attended a gathering recently of some of the world’s leading teachers and activists. We gathered to discuss the condition of the planet and what we could do to help. Throughout the gathering, as people became acquainted with Christy’s amazing work as a healer, they would — one by one — come and ask her a medical question about themselves. These questions reflected their tragic and deeply saddening state of health. By the end of a gathering focused on healing the planet, it was clear to me that what truly needed healing was its participants. While these beautiful souls spent their days traveling the world sharing love, they had forgotten to love themselves.

This is true everywhere we look.

We use words like “sacrifice,” “execution,” and “make a killing” to describe the efforts and rewards of business. While those words began as metaphors they have become reality in a business climate that is sick, tired, and finds rest only on the operating tables and in the recovery rooms of our hospitals. As parents we have heaped so many conditions on being good moms and dads that it’s nearly impossible to succeed. We make it our responsibility to please bosses, teachers, administrators, friends, and family members and then try to find time in the midst of that pressure to love our kids. Our children, under the same pressure, are faced with an avalanche of information, an antiquated educational system, and a lack of jobs, and then are told to “make something of themselves.” And we wonder why it’s easier to save a whale.


...And I Breathed


My teacher Sharon Salzberg once asked the Dalai Lama how he dealt with self-hatred. He looked at her puzzled, not because he didn’t understand her language but because he didn’t understand the concept. After much back and forth with various translators and explanations of the question, it became clear that he had never experienced the feeling of self-loathing. For him, it didn’t exist.

But for us it does … and often it’s the norm.

So back to the title of this post — Radical Selfishness — and the questions I posed at the beginning. Is this world we are working so hard to save a manifestation of the large part of us all that needs saving itself? Can we heal the world without healing ourselves? Will there ever be global love when we can’t even love ourselves?

Perhaps this focus we’ve placed on fixing and healing and saving is misplaced. Perhaps, like the Dalai Lama, the prescribers of this “save the world” philosophy assumed, however incorrectly, that we had already done the business of saving ourselves. Maybe we need to be a little more selfish.

It’s funny what a radical idea that is, right? How saying the word “selfish” is such a controversial topic. I’m sure I’ll get plenty of responses to this post explaining how misguided I am and that I don’t understand. And maybe I don’t. But one thing I learned in business is that extinction comes from continually doing something that’s not working. And as I look around the world, from my mom to the business people I know to the activists I’ve met, we are suffering from a lack of self-love. And that’s why, perhaps, the word selfish is so scary.

We think so little of our own self worth that we assume if we focused on ourselves and our own well being that the world would be worse off. We actually believe that buried inside us all is a greedy little monster who just cares about itself. But the evidence, as demonstrated by how we treat ourselves, tells a different story. We don’t care about ourselves … and that’s what’s killing us and our planet in aggregate. Our lack of care for ourselves has manifested itself in a unloved world. So a community of people who don’t know how to love themselves “save things” in an attempt to bypass looking in the mirror and in our hearts and loving the scared and lonely being inside.

We deserve better. We deserve to be loved. Breathe and take that in. You, exactly as you are, sitting there reading this article, deserve to be loved. You don’t have to save or fix or change a thing. You deserve to be loved. Breathe…

This week I invite you to stop. I invite you to consider the areas where you help and fix and save others while disregarding your own needs. I invite you to believe you are a beautiful, amazing spark of the divine who when healthy is a blessing to this planet and all who inhabit it. I invite you to love yourself and trust that when you are fully loved you will love your brothers and sisters and the trees and oceans too. And most importantly I invite you to breathe, and to send this message of love that dwells in the breath to each and every cell of your body: “I am here for you. I will never leave you alone. Together we will love ourselves and others.”

Big hugs of love,

I’m happy to join 30 of my favorite teachers for this FREE online conference:

recovery 2.0

    • Thank you Jane. I love how you used the word “flows” to describe the movement of love between us all. Big hugs – Jason

  1. Couldn’t agree more. Taking time to focus on oneself in order to find the ability to love and to heal from self-hate is not selfish in the way most people understand it to be. Selfishness is a necessity, and without selfishness there is no true selflessness. We are only as strong and able to give to others that which we give to ourselves. So if we want to help others, which we all as humans inherently want to do, we must be stable, full of strength and completely grounded. Then the true ability to offer guiding light to others is available.

    • Thank you Lauren. I think this is what our entire journey is about — learning to love ourselves and others. Big hugs of love – Jason

  2. This article I read, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. I can’t speak for the world or how anyone else feels, but I’ll tell you how I feel. When I look to the outside to fix things, it’s because I feel I have no control over what’s happening to me. Outside is tangible, it’s measurable, I can see it, and I can fix it. Inside is quite a different story – one I have felt I have had little or no control over. To tell it, there’s background info needed, which is a longer story, and while I’ll try to be concise, part of why I’m writing is for me – to help me get better through my own self-realization. If someone else takes something away from it, all the better.

    I’m a very private person. I don’t share much with anyone. My paint can and upbringing conditioned me to keep everything buried. If something is wrong, don’t share it, ignore it, hide it, pretend it doesn’t exist, and lie to everyone else to make them think it’s okay. This was later reinforced in my life – I don’t want my family to see my pain. I don’t want them to worry the same way I do. Maybe one day I can open up more to people in my life, for now sharing here seemed like a step in that direction.

    I was 27 when I was first diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. They thought it was benign but it is in the middle of my brain and can’t get to it without destroying my brain, so there’s no way to tell for sure, other than to wait and watch. How the heck do you not worry about something that could kill you? It’s in my brain! And it’s pressed up against my central nerve column, which could cause all sorts of problems. The more immediate problem was it blocks brain fluid from draining, which was causing concussion like symptoms. So they drilled a hole in the top of my head, put in a tube and the fluid now drains through that into my abdomen. My daughter wasn’t even a year old at the time, my twin boys had just turned 3. I remember spending the nights crying over their beds, worried not for me, but that they would grow up without a mom. When my boys went to school and learned about Terry Fox – he had a tumor and he died, will mommy die? My daughter who was then 3 would cry whenever I wasn’t in the room with her, because she was afraid if she couldn’t see me then maybe I had died too and would be lost to her forever. So for them, I made sure they wouldn’t see any pain I was in, because I still suffer from headaches, dizziness, and motion sickness.

    Fast forward two years. Good news, the tumor hasn’t spread and hasn’t grown at all (and to date still hasn’t!). I could have this condition for the rest of my life. Bad news: your MRI shows demylination in your brain. Translation: Multiple Sclerosis. Over the years I’ve been extremely lucky with it compared to most people with the disease. Fatigue plagues me, sometimes to a debilitating degree where even the simple things in life like lifting a spoon takes effort and concentration. Where I haven’t been able to cross a room without feeling like I was going to collapse. I had one seizure like ‘episode’ which has been treated with high dosage of neuroinhibitors, which have their own set of side effects. Things come and go, sometimes they are fine and you wouldn’t know anything is wrong with me, and sometimes I can’t walk without a cane. Life for me like traveling uncharted territory – you never know what to expect and it can change suddenly at any time. Migraines can be crippling where all I can do is crawl into bed and hope the pain will pass quickly. I need to remember to breathe, that it will pass, and it will be okay.

    Then I found my digestive track was always upset. Everything I ate was making me feel sick. Through another set of doctors and health specialists with the ending diagnosis of IBD/IBS/we’re not really sure. If I only ate a few foods, and I’m talking all of 8 foods here, I felt okay. Anything else and I’d feel sick. I can’t afford to feel sick. Now my kids have grown more and my twins are 16 and my daughter is 14. Driving them to various activities is a full time job. They are so highly motivated and really want to do them (if I let them they would quit school to pursue them full time!), and they have the talent to excel, that it’s hard to say no. It’s hard to cut back and not help them fulfill their dreams. But that means I don’t have time to be sick. How can I risk eating a new food and being sick and not wanting to eat for 3 days (which would frequently happen)? So for a year, I lived on chicken, apple sauce, bananas, carrots, asparagus and that’s pretty much it.

    But I wasn’t taking care of me. I was doing a lot of things for a lot of other people, but on the inside I was still in pain. After spending so much time at doctors and health care specialists, all who are going to fix you, try to, but then throw up there hands and say there’s nothing more they can do, I was left feeling frustrated, and deal with a lot of chronic pain on a regular basis. Very little seems to help, and at some point, I didn’t want to keep living my life running from one doctors appointment to another. So I did what I was trained to do – ignore it, bury it, pretend it’s not there. While sometimes I can, which has helped me do a lot of things I’ve really enjoyed in life, sometimes it hasn’t. Sometimes I really needed to listen to my body, and I didn’t. I didn’t have time to stop and really love me too, that wasn’t programmed into me.

    I did start to make time to dance again for me, as the doctors all agreed I need more exercise and it’s something I love to do. For a while it was great – it was my meditation. Nothing else exists when I dance, just me, my partner and the music. It’s a wonderful, natural high, my pain levels decreased to the point of being non-existent when I dance, and a euphoria takes over. However, again I ignored my body and the warning signs and injured something (I’ve been to so many doctors again and they disagree with what’s wrong and can’t seem to be able to fix it) which is causing sciatic pain down my left leg. When I first hurt it, I kept dancing, ignoring the pain as I was taught to do, which only made it worse, and I haven’t been able to stand or walk for more than a few minutes for the past few months. No more dancing. So I stopped and took a look around at what was happening to me. A new concept, to look at what was going on inside, rather than focusing on fixing the outside.

    Don’t get me wrong, my kids are still being driven places, and they are still being fed. But I’m taking the time to actually sit down and eat, not shoveling stuff in my mouth while I’m driving somewhere. I’ve started meditating and doing some yoga first thing in the morning, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I’ve added food into my diet. Not all of it was successful, but that’s okay – the fact that I’m trying again is what’s important. As someone pointed out to me, taking a step forward and then backwards is not that I’m not making progress – it’s more like I’m doing a cha cha. Sometimes it’s good to be in the same place – it keeps us grounded. I’ve also noticed that peak times of stress are not good times to try new food, and that some of it is related to stress, not what it is I’m eating. My own fears were paralyzing me…I just knew I might be sick, and was worrying, which in turn was making me sick. These are the things I’ve started to notice, now that I’m listening.

    With all those health problems being said, in the end I still look at them as being a blessing. I have done things that I would never have done, because I would still be waiting thinking I had all the time in the world. But learning that I don’t has made me not wait for tomorrow, but to embrace today. I often don’t share with people about my diseases because I don’t like people asking me how I am all the time. I don’t want to be seen as the ‘sick’ person. I want to be normal. I want to be loved. I don’t want to have to hide it from other people and be strong for them.

    But I’m realizing first that has to start with me. I can’t ‘fix’ the world around me, or even give to everyone else who I love in my life without first taking the time to love me. It may make me feel like I’m more in control, but it can have the opposite effect too – causing me to be too drained and tired, short tempered and unable to cope. By taking the time over the last few weeks to learn to love myself, which is an on-going process, I’ve found myself with more energy, more patience, and more love to give. Meditation has even taught me to focus on the now, on what my kids are trying to tell me, rather than half listening while thinking of all the million and one other things I have to do. The stuff I have to do will still be there, but the time I lost not listening to them will be gone forever, something I didn’t take the time to enjoy.

    The effects we have on life ripple outward. But they have to start at the core, on the inside first. Only then can we spread true love and make our world a better place.

    Faith, hope & love, Kathleen.

    • What a journey you have been/are on, Kathleen. You articulate your experiences well and I can relate to much of it myself. I’m sure your children have a depth of compassion that an easier life and ‘normal’ mother, would not have given them.

      • Thank you, Gloria, for taking the time to read my post. It is nice to know there are other people out there with similar experiences and are on the same journey of self discovery and self improvement as I am. It gives me strength.

        I’m really proud of my children. I could go on and on how resilient, compassionate, and driven they are. Sometimes I’m worried they are too driven. Now I’m working on showing them it’s okay to relax and take it easy – and to love themselves. As teenagers it’s a hard thing to do as they push to discover who they are. But then it’s something I’m doing myself now, so is a life long process, as we are ever changing.

        Best wishes, and enjoy your day!

        Faith, hope, and love, Kathleen

  3. I so agree with you Jason. I am experiencing this right now in my life+I too believe that we want to save+help the rest of the world, while we are looking AWAY from ourselves, who are many times abandoned+left just to stay positive+thankful. We were so well trained as kids+through religion to believe that we live under grace+that alone will lead us “home”; but then we abandon “home”, that is ourselves…

  4. A very important conversation and beautifully articulated Jason. The Rescuer/Saviour archetype has a deep, dark shadow side that needs to be acknowledged for true healing to occur. If we give out of a finite well, it will eventually dry up. We have to learn to tap into the source of love within, then within and without become unified.

  5. The truth it is…and so is communicated by Neale donald Walsch’s Conversations with God…radically transforming the notion of God from an external entity to a verily internal, the very essence of being. It is all about going beyond the “self” to the “Self,” the divine essence of being, that we are in form, with a purpose…and which can be fulfilled only by accepting and expressing to the fullest, with unconditional love, faith, gratitude, humility, devotion…and thus, committed fully, realizing the self…healed, fully and forever…. As is the world within healed, so it is, without…the only way out, being, in….

    And the Source’s unconditional love, untiring guidance and unwavering word…and hence, the constant self-referral, thus finds us drawing and expressing the realizations, messages, as you have…as Anita has…and so have many, and so will will many….

    As to the radical content of your sharing, the observation that seeks expression, is George Bernard Shaw’s: “All great truths begin as blasphemies.”

    Thank you for sharing the shared!

    And as to your invocation, comes out: “Amen.”

    • It’s beautiful how we are all sharing our own perspective of truths that have been expressed for centuries. Thank you for sharing yours. Big hugs – Jason

  6. Beautifully expressed, Jason – and thank you for being bold enough to say it; and create a conversation around it.

    However, it requires more people in the world, like you – and me – and your readers – to consistently challenge the norms of what is acceptable and true, before we will fully allow ourselves to embrace this kind of ‘radical selfishness’ in every part of our lives…rather than just responding positively to a blog like this; or acquiring an inspirational quote to hang on our wall or pin to our desktop.

    We have been taught our entire lives to prioritise the things that have meaning in our lives – according to some-one else’s values – rather than our own; which means we unconsciously over-ride our own needs and desires, moment by moment, without even noticing.

    Many times I have conversations with prospective clients who are adamant that now is their time to put themselves first, to live life without regrets, to stop living someone else’s life on someone else’s terms…and then, within a matter of minutes or hours, they are finding reasons why now is not the right time after all (because their partner, their children, their parent, their employer, their home needs to be taken into account first and foremost.)

    We do things like this with no sense of irony – yet many of us clearly demonstrate that the only way we can do something for ourselves is if we can be convinced that nobody else will be affected.

    It seems to me we can be unconsciously so afraid of our own power when we do things for ourselves, that we are afraid to do anything at all…for fear it will unleash some devastatingly disastrous consequences for those people (and things!) we hold dearest.

    As you say, inability to look inside and celebrate ourselves first, can be the source of physical – and mental – illness, war and conflict – and I’d like to say I’ve acquired some immunity. I haven’t. My own battle is with one of value…which I’ve been taught relates to what someone is prepared to pay me. But that’s a whole other wormhole!

    I sense a revolutionary rant coming on…and creating a novel in the space that is your blog! Thank you for being thought provoking, eloquent – and brave – and mastering huge sensitivity in expressing your view.

    Much love – and great kick-ass-piration!

    • Thank you Shirley. “Revolutionary rant” – I love that term as it’s something I do often! Thank you for connecting here and sharing your perspective from the heart. Big hugs – Jason

  7. Thank you Jason for sharing this and thank you to all those who have responded. My first forty years stem from fear beliefs so as I begin the next forty plus, I am on a journey of self-love and it’s comforting to hear others have a similar philosophy. However, it’s quite a challenge. I see my teenage daughter feeling the pressure of life’s shoulds (should be an taking 3 AP courses, should be an athlete, should pick the “right” college etc). It breaks my heart which taps into my own grief. Writing this reminds me feeling my own grief will probably be a gift to her.
    Anyway, I wanted to say to you Jason that I look forward to hearing specific ways to love thyself in your writings❤️.

    • I have three teenagers at home. They too feel the same life pressures as your daughter is going through. My one son is in grade 11 now and has no idea what he wants to do when he finishes high school. Added pressure when his twin brother already has his goals and plans set. I remember being like that too – carrying the same stress throughout life, worrying about marks in high school to get into the right university, worrying about university marks to get a good job, worrying about the job to get the next promotion. It goes on and on and carries over into ever aspect of our lives unless we learn to recognize it, take a step back, breathe, and relax. I have spent so much time worrying about what else I had to do, I totally lost sight of what was going on right *now*. And that took the enjoyment out of those precious moments, as worry always clouded everything. It’s a slow process, and I’m still learning, how to live in the moment, right now. All those other choices will still be there, and we can make them, but we need to take time out to appreciate the gift of what we have presently, and not worry about the future. After all, if they take the wrong course, they can always go back to school and take something else (I did this myself, I graduated with a Business Admin degree and went back to college years later to learn to teach Ballroom Dancing!). Your kids will see what you do and by setting a positive example they will follow suit.

      If you haven’t picked up Jason’s book, do so. It has a lot of wonderful suggestions on self love. The biggest thing is to find what works for you. It doesn’t even have to be a big thing. For example, I started adding different fruits and vegetables to my water every day, as a reminder that I love myself and I deserve to have some special flavoured water as a treat. Even though it has now become ‘the norm’ every time I drink it or I make it, I’m reminding myself that I love myself, and that it’s worth the extra time it takes to make it (because hey, before I was too busy to spend 5 minutes to prepare it!). Little things like that make a difference. Find what works for you, what you love, and go for it. You are worthy of your love. <3

      Faith, hope and love, Kathleen

  8. Wow! I really needed to read this article. It’s maybe not so coincidental that I was thinking along the same lines recently. What would the world look like if we all loved ourselves? Does the higher power of love that is want us to just enjoy this beautiful planet? To play more? I used to play a lot (kayak, rock climb) until I felt a guilt trip over it. Then I saw a guru and it seemed it came back to the play: play and nature are good and have been for me, helping me grow and overcome self-esteem issues. And it seems so strong now that God is telling me the same thing as I read this article. Thank you, Jason!

  9. Vivian Stephanus says:

    Jason, as I read your article, I wept through the entire thing. I mean wept hard. Obviously, your words struck a cord in me. I am always amazed how many different people are speaking the exact same message, and somehow these messages find us at just the right time. The following line: a sad, tired and abandoned body finally finding a tragic way to be heard? is when the tears started. I never thought that I had abandoned my own body. That I wasn’t listening to it. Just like I never knew that I had abandoned my own innocence. But now I know. Funny that one of the ways I’ve done this is by internalizing all the judgments that we’ve been fed since birth, and now I also notice how easy it would be to judge myself for abandoning myself as well. lol. But I think I’m aware enough to know where that would lead. So learning to love the one who has abandoned herself and judge herself is a part of this journey. This particular article reminded me of a video I saw on youtube by one of my teachers, Matt Kahn, and the video is called Love is the only answer. Sometimes you remind me of him, with the words you speak. So now learning to forgive me for abandoning me seems to be where I am at. I just want to thank you for your articles and posts which speak so much to my own journey and heart. I am grateful for you and your writings. Thank you. – Vivian

  10. Wonderful article Jason. The world isn’t here to make you happy, it’s here to wake you up. We can so easily get caught up in our quest to “fix” the world yet it is only when we we turn within and realize the love that we are, that we are truly okay as we are, we wake up and realize there is nothing to fix. Then we can go about our business in the world, helping others, helping the environment etc, whatever form it takes for you, in such a way that it is not that we will only be okay with ourselves, once the problems of the world are solved (we would be waiting a long time ?). Besides if the world/people was so dependent upon us personally to step in and fix it, what has God been doing all this time? If you can’t see God in all…you can’t see God at all….and it starts with seeing God within you….. Much love ❤️

  11. Ray Khelawan says:

    Wow…..this article is great. I find that I have a problem with Radical Selfishness………I’m just so drained from my job that I don’t give myself time to do the things that I want. And of course, I have to do the cooking, chores, etc….for my husband. It gets really hard sometimes to make time for yourself…..it’s something that I’m working on for sure,

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