How We Become Ourselves

Happy September. Feels like the start of something new, doesn’t it? At the same time, knowing that the end of the year is near, it feels like we are at the end of something, too.

This past week we celebrated Rosh Hashanah or the Jewish New Year.

These next 10 days, up until Yom Kippur, are considered the Days of Awe and spent in serious introspection.

(Don’t worry, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy today’s post. If you want to know why you are who you are, keep reading.)

I spent the afternoon at synagogue on Monday and the Rabbi posed what I think is an important topic when it comes to introspection:

What is self?

A pretty straight forward question.

Now, to the answer.

In this day and age of self facing cameras, instagram stories where it’s all about ourselves and other forms of social media where people share all and every bit of themselves, it’s clear that SELF has become a central theme.

And while I have many-a-mixed feelings about the way we as a society are making ourselves central in almost every conversation we seem to be having in the world right now, I thought Rabbi Green’s explanation of self was an important one to consider.

We only become ourselves through the time spent and connection we have to others.

Yes, that’s right.

You are you because of who you are surrounded by.

Plain and simple.

But why, you ask?

It is through the time spent and connection with others over the course of our lives, that we either take on attributes and qualities of those other people OR we reject those attributes and qualities.

It is through others, that we become more clear on our likes, dislikes, preferences and dreams.

We do not exist in a vacuum unto ourselves.

We become who we are, by being in the the world and spending time with other people, whether we have chosen those people or not.

Got it?

Ok, so now that this piece is clear, here is the more important piece.

If we want to take care of ourselves in the most profound way, can you guess what we must do?

No, it’s not surround ourselves with more successful, better people.


We must take care of others.

All others.

And because we are the collection of those who paths we cross, perhaps we need to stop seeing those that we do not approve or like, as ‘others’, but rather extensions of ourselves.

If there are things about people that you do not like, it is not enough to just discard them and hope they no longer have an impact on you.

Frankly, it’s too late.

The impact has already occured.

We can all do a better job of attempting to care for the people we know and meet because, while it may seem selfish, improving their lives, means that we improve our own.

This is not a far fetched idea. Or even a new one.

It’s a matter of whether or not you want to put it into action.

A few simple ways you can start to improve the lives of others around you:

(And when I say others, I mean everyone. Not just the easy ones. Everyone includes people of all races, genders, sexual preferences, abilities, disabilities, education levels or lack thereof and financial abundance or lack thereof.)

  1. Ask people about themselves. Ask them what they are struggling with. And when they tell you, really listen.
  2. When it comes to listening, here’s a simple tip.
    Listen to feel, not to solve. 
    People’s well being improves when they feel they are being heard and understood. That can be accomplished when we FEEL them and not just try to solve things for them.
  3. Greet each person as though they are a favorite family member.
  4. Smile. Not a forced smile. An easy turning up of the corners of the mouth. It makes people feel welcome.
  5. Remember there is enough to go around. Enough of what? Enough of everything. Money, time, attention, love. I know it doesn’t always feel like that, but when we act that way, all those things seem to miraculously expand. It’s a good practice and it makes us more abt to want to give.

Now, it’s your turn.

What are some ways you take care of others? And I don’t mean just the people close to you. More so, the people you don’t know very well. Maybe even the people you don’t know at all.

I would love for you to share in the comments.

Your actions for taking care of others could inspire another reader to do the same. So don’t be shy and tell us.

Remember, you become a better you, when ‘they’ become a better them.

‘Shana Tova (Happy New Year),
Xx Erin

P.S. Did you know I have a new book coming out in early January? I can’t wait to reveal the cover to you in the next few weeks along with some special goodies we are giving away! We will also be doing another Say it, Sweat it, Get it Challenge in early Nov. It’s right around the corner! Such an exciting time! Thanks for going on this very exciting journey with me. I’m so grateful for you support and love along the way!


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20 Responses to How We Become Ourselves

  1. Nancy Chalmers says:

    As a registered nurse I’ve always taken care of others. I was taught to treat everyone I meet as if it was myself or a loved one in front of me and so that’s how I nurse. I am always the listener, the supporter and have cared for my parents and friends as they’ve gone through hard times. I think though, because of who I am, what I do for work I have had to learn and am still learning how to listen without taking on others problems, how to practice self care so I can be more of who I want to be.

    • erin says:

      You have a hard job, sounds like you do it so beautifully. Thank you for sharing this and for your generous service! xo

    • Mary says:

      Hi, Nancy. I just retired 4 weeks and one day ago after working as a nurse for 44 years, mostly in a small local emergency room. I tried to always look at older women as my mom because she lived 3000 miles away and kids like they were my own kids, not with me at work. It really helped me to be inspired by others. I agree on the self care aspect. I now want to serve the caregivers who give their all to others and many times neglect their own needs. (missing holidays with family, missing soccer games, not getting enough sleep and on and on) The healthcare institution needs to change. Nurses can be role models for self care. Many healthcare professionals I know “suffer” by overworking and becoming fatigued. We need to work on changing this.

  2. Janelle says:

    Metta meditations as often as I can (&thanks for this post because it’s a gentle push do do that more!!)
    I focus on spiraling self care and self love out of me and mutual forgiveness spiraling out to those I know, those I love & those I have challenges with. Then I spiral out in the biggest way I can imagine to include all beings through all space & time. I always feel great after and I think that could be my body agreeing with the work I’m doing, signals maybe of alignment? Hope this helps! I*nsight Timer is a free app I use that has some great guided Metta meditations.

  3. Heather Gibson says:

    I volunteer with an amazing interfaith women’s group called “You Got This”. It is so fun to serve women all over the state of UT through the events that are uplifting and create connects between women of all races, social economical statuses, and stages of life. We had an event last night and it was wonderful to be able to serve the women that attended. My role was on the sidelines doing everything from smiling and welcoming them to cleaning up their trash. It was awesome! I always feel most alive and full of light when I am serving.

  4. Valerie says:

    I try to let others know when & how I utulize a gift they’ve given me. Like, I cooked with the wine last night you gave me or thanks for the encouragement, it got me working on my thesis today.

  5. Sandra says:

    I have taken an early retirement because of a workplace injury that left me feeling super sorry for myself for a bit. I only allow myself to sit on that pot for a short time and then I get active doing something to help someone else. Recently 2 very special people have been admitted to our local hospice. One gent has been there for a few months now and I go to see him on a regular basis. His name is Mark and his family live far away and come on weekends when they can. When I walk in the room his face lights up a city block I swear! Oh! Its you!!! Oh I am so glad you came!!! Ohh Ohh !! The feeling it gives both of us is beyond this world…. The other gent is Maurice a dear dear friend…Oh Sandy he says …It is so good to see you….my heart fills with the love of my dear friend and I see it in his eyes and it glows from his whole being. Just for today, in this moment I have these moments of incredible love and joy….and no regrets….I think its time to go visit my dear friends <3

  6. Kimberley Nelson says:

    I need to work on number two more, but I feel it is important to listen to the lady I hardly know pour out her heart to me, even if I am running late and it isn’t convenient. I volunteer with refugees, because if no one helps them integrate, how will they? I can help them with paperwork, wrstern culture and learning a new language, but I cannot help them when they speak of their terrifying journey to saftety, or their fears for the family and friends they left behind, but I can listen. Being ignored, no one, NO ONE, likes that no matter what your situation in life. Connect with someone and you ease their frustration at feeling helpless. That has a ripple effect, it really does.

  7. Kate says:

    Very cool post, thanks Erin! Personally, I see this most when I’m at work; I currently work as a server. I treat my guests that sit at my tables the same way I want my family to be treated when they go out. With a lot of respect, love, compassion and care. Everyone is somebody’s loved one, right? I also have a mantra: “I bring love and light everywhere I go.” I’ve only really started using it in the last few months, but it really has transformed how I view myself, and how I view my day and what I bring to the world-wherever I happen to be. Thanks for asking the question! Much Love! -Kate

    • erin says:

      I loooove this mantra. Especially as a server, because it can get hard to keep positive in those settings sometimes. Good on ya and thanks for sharing! Xoxo

  8. Pauline Harry says:

    I’ve started asking Heavenly Father every day who I can serve. It has been a joy and a blessing to focus on others more.

  9. Emily says:

    There are two things I’ve done lately that I believe are a form of self care and caring for others is setting clear boundaries. I realize that by having wushu washy boundaries has ended up just leading to hurt feelings, resentment, needless fighting. So I’ve realized being kind but clear and not getting into fights (as the saying goes you don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.) it helps me not get ugly or get resentful which is also a way of caring for others.
    The other hung is I’ve started really trying to monitor what I say more. Monitor my feeling and when I feel myself getting tense with irritation or anger I take special care not to just let it fly!

  10. Natalia says:

    Hello Erin, woderful blog! It has clarified for me some points about relationship. “Treat others as you want to be treated”. Listening to others in order to feel them is the most important way of caring for them. Everybody wants to be heard, understood, accepted.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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