Dying Daily # 17: Selfishness

This daily blogging thing has an odd secondary effect where I often get to the end of a piece and realize I feel better, or that I’ve worked something out for myself. Maybe this whole project is just me telling myself to shape up.

I wonder if I will develop the oppositional streak I have toward other people telling me what to do toward myself, causing this blog to end in flames.

Selfishness is the root of most of the things I see people struggle with. I believe it is the root of the things I have and still struggle with. If, at any time, I am feeling unhappy or discontent, I can pretty much always trace it back to selfishness or self-centeredness on my part or, sometimes, someone else’s. When it is due to someone else’s selfishness, it is my responsibility to change my reaction, because I have no control over other people.

In working with clients, I encourage them to re-evaluate their relationship with selfish people, especially close friendships or romantic relationships. Selfishness requires a person to put their needs above yours, and cultivates manipulation, stonewalling, contempt and even physical violence in them as they are driven to get what they want.

We are all, of course, selfish from time to time. This isn’t to say that we sever our relationship with someone when, in a moment of fear or anger or exhaustion, they are selfish. There are times that selfishness is useful and even necessary. In saying that we need to reevaluate our relationship with selfish people, I am referring to people who have developed an inability to see outside of their own wants and desires, and are wiling to pursue them regardless of their impact on others.

In my own life, I try to see where my self-interest is driving me, especially in places that affect the people around me. I look for places where I have developed tunnel vision and I am trying to warp everything around whatever is at the end of that tunnel. If I am doing this, it means that I am most likely neglecting things outside of that tunnel. It can also mean that it is something that is very important to me, which means I need to examine what is missing or lacking in my life to spark that need, but I am not allowed to become driven by it and force it on people around me.

It is important that we ask ourselves if we are pushing for what we want at the expense of others, and how far we are willing to go in this. If we are hurting those that we care about, we need to let go of what we want. It is also important to ask ourselves if this is being done to us by others, and how far we are willing to let them go. If we cannot accept a person’s selfishness, then we need to change the relationship. Complaining about it will not accomplish anything.

At least, these are the things I am telling myself today.