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:
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.