more me!

i am spectacularly selfish. seriously.  it’s nearly pathological.  other people don’t see it (much), but they don’t live inside my head.  it can be a pretty dark place.  it’s very much a “but for the grace of God” thing that i don’t wreak destruction on all who love me.

aside from my own daily struggle to see beyond the end of my own nose, i’ve encountered more than few things recently that have got me thinking about selfishness.  add that to the “dear sharideth” letter from a couple of weeks ago and i think a blog is in order.

according to Dictionary.com:

self·ish

– adjective

1.  devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

2.  characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives.

when it comes to that definition, i am particularly concerned with “regardless of others” part. our culture has taken a hardcore turn from community to “me first”.  it’s like we’ve become a society of 2nd graders and we all want to cut in line for the swings.

here’s some phrases i hear a lot these days:

1.  “do what’s right for you”

2.  “do what makes you happy”

3.  “follow your heart”

4.  “you deserve (insert favorite thing here)”

now let me clarify something.  all of those things are fine in moderation and paired with a heavy dose of kindness and wisdom if you are single.

once you’re in a committed relationship, you have a responsibility to be constantly aware of the feelings and needs of someone else.  if “doing what’s right for you” causes undue pain to a person you claim to love, you need to rethink your choices.  i say undue because sometimes it is impossible not to hurt someone we love when they are being unreasonable/clingy/jealous/totally nuts…the best way to know the difference is to spend some time thinking about something, anything, other than yourself.

a guy i know was really ambitious and driven to go farther in his career.  not a big deal, possibly even admirable until you factor in that he left his wife for a woman who could help him get where he wanted to go.  told his wife, “we’re just not a fit anymore.”

marriage is not disposable. we are constantly told otherwise, but the truth is, many marriages fail because nobody has the gonads to say, “stop being a jerk and think about what you’re doing to this person you’ve committed to honor and cherish.”  we’re told we cannot say what might be right for someone else.

the hell we can’t.

relationships work/thrive/strengthen because two people get up every morning and think, “what’s best for him(her) today?”  not “what can i get out of this today?”

does that mean relationships have no room for selfishness?  not necessarily.  there is a healthy amount of selfishness.  the kind that makes room for you to go hunting or get ridiculously muddy in the Turkey Bowl.  for girls, go get your mani/pedi or see that new Reese Witherspoon movie your beloved would rather hang himself than watch.

those things are fine.  they are healthy.  maintaining your identity can be done while still respecting and protecting the relationship you’re in.

we all just need to stop listening to what the world says about how we are suppose get our happiness.  making someone else happy should bring us real joy.  i have never seen anyone truly happy who is only trying to please himself.

okay, i’ll stop now.

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10 comments on “more me!

  1. I have a friend from India who is genuinely confused at our American inability to tell folks what’s up.

    He says in his culture, everybody tells you where you’re going wrong. It’s considered rude to do otherwise.

    You only cross the line when you tell someone more than once. Then you become an in-law.

  2. You know what makes me happy? Signs like: “We aim to please. You aim, too, please.” See? Cleverness and concern for others packaged right in the same phrase!

  3. Katie M says:

    YES! Love this! Selfishness is the core reason that so many relationships (of any kind) fail. I loved the response to your Dear Sharideth letter. I wish someone would have strung me up by my toes when I was younger and making so many selfish and stupid decisions. “Following my heart” ended up really meaning “follow whatever dumbass thing I feel like doing that I obviously refuse to give a second to think about because I KNOW it’s so totally, horribly WRONG!”. BUT, I was bored, so I did it anyway. These kinds of decisions are no joke. It took me years to recover from some of them, and even longer for people to regain respect and trust in me.

    PS – The devil is a LIAR.

  4. Joseph says:

    Amen, and amen. We’re dealing with this in a couple of marriages in our church right now… Husband and wife both are more concerned with ‘being right’ or being validated than they are with the health of their marriage, or the upbringing of their kids. It makes me sad, and it makes me wonder why some people have to be brought completely to the bottom before they can see the depth of what’s wrong in their lives.

    And now I’ll get off MY high-horse…

  5. True words. It’s aggravating to see so many people behaving so poorly. It’s worse to see it in yourself. But if we see it in ourselves we can do something about it.

  6. kristinherdy says:

    I think you’re right to point out that selfishness isn’t all bad – selfishness is a key ingredient in self-preservation, like not giving away all your food to those who have none, but keeping back enough to keep yourself going.

    But, emotional selfishness isn’t about preservation. I’ve helped destroy a marriage because I didn’t trust him to care for my best interest and that lack of trust kept me from looking after HIS best interest. I found myself not giving a flying flip what he wanted, even though, as my husband, I should have.

    Great post, and interesting thoughts about relationships and how we do (but shouldn’t) screw them up.

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sharideth Smith, Sharideth Smith. Sharideth Smith said: new blog post: more me! (aka selfishness) http://tinyurl.com/4c3dgh3 […]

  8. David Robbins says:

    love this! well done.

  9. Jennifer C. says:

    As a single person, we singles need to learn to be a lot less selfish because we may get married and have kids one day. Or, heck, we might just live on a planet with about 6 billion other people.

    The longer a person is single, I think there is more risk of being more and more selfish in marriage unless said single person really digs in deep with the whole selfless thing.

    It’s something no one, regardless of marital status, can do alone. God has to be at the center.

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