SELFISHNESS VS. SELFLESSNESS
To develop ourselves and grow spiritually in a healthy way, it is important to practice rational selfishness and rational selflessness. The concepts of selfishness vs. selflessness are central to all religious and mystical philosophies. Romantic love and parenting are normally dependent upon selflessness. In most doctrines, to be good Christians means to be selfless. To be out of balance, in either direction; too selfish (thinking only of ourselves) or too selfless (thinking only of others) for long periods of time is immature, destructive and will lead to irrational behavior.
The moral purpose of all Human life is rational happiness.
Negative emotions are reliable warning signals that a person is acting contrary to one’s nature, well-being and happiness. Everyone has the ability to choose what emotions they wish to feel. Happiness, pleasure, and love can only be experienced through emotions. To the extent that a person represses emotions, is the extent that the person denies that part of reality needed to experience earned pleasures and happiness – which is the moral purpose of Human life.
Repression of emotions is the attempt to deny emotions. Such repression is harmful and entirely different from the suppression of emotions, which can be a valuable, necessary process. Suppression of emotions is an act of discipline in consciously putting aside emotions to experience them later at a more appropriate time or in a more controlled manner. In suppressing an emotion, one is not denying the emotion and remains fully aware of it. Suppression is an important tool for preventing destructive reactions in oneself.
The Human organism must experience emotions in order to psychologically live. If a person continually diminishes self-awareness or represses emotions, that person will steadily lose his or her capacity to feel emotions. To compensate for that deadening of feelings, that person must take increasingly stronger measure to feel something until the only feeling left to feel is pain. The easiest, quickest route to feel pain is through destructive actions.
As a person diminishes his or her awareness and integration capacities, the initiation of longer range, positive actions becomes increasingly difficult. The person will succumb to selecting more and more destructive actions in order to feel something. Destructive actions taken to feel something include manipulating others, lying, initiating force to control or use others, using drugs or alcohol, promiscuity, stealing, injurious masochism or sadism, vandalism, thrill killing, mass murder, waging war, genocide.
Emotions are a real part of every person and, therefore, are part of reality. To know and deal with undistorted reality, a person must first know one’s self, which includes knowing one’s own emotions. A person must learn to be aware of feelings in order to prevent destructive emotional reactions. A person must also know one’s own emotions in order to effectively share them in a love relationship. Emotions are not subject to condemnation, guilt, or right or wrong judgments…only actions are right or wrong. While everyone innocently experiences negative, irrational emotions, no one ever has to act on such emotions. Since only Human actions are subject to choice, only Human actions (not emotions) are subject to moral judgment. An individual is, however, always responsible for his or her actions. Even if the action is an accident or honest error, one remains responsible for every action.
We need to always think of ourselves first before undertaking any activity or commitment. One of my greatest lessons has been to learn to ask my soul, “Is this mine to do?” Before I learned this I would make snap judgments based on what I saw as a need in the other person or situation, something I knew I was capable of doing or fulfilling and I would automatically volunteer without asking my soul the important question, “Is this mine to do?” Invariably, over and over, I would find myself overextended energetically and become resentful and irritable with others. I always felt if it was in front of me it was mine to do. I ended up with roommates who used my things inappropriately, stole from me or were closet alcoholics. I found myself on committees that were impossible to coordinate. I found myself with no time left for myself, no time left for introspection. I filled every hour of every day fulfilling the needs and desires of others. I was a people pleaser. My self worth came from others; therefore, it could be given or taken away by others. When we don’t understand who we are, vehicles that the soul has created in order to have access to life on Earth, we tend to believe we are our roles. Once we become clear about who we really are, vehicles through which the soul, God, can operate in this dimension, we can see more clearly what roles the soul wishes to play and what activities in which the soul wishes to engage.
A person must be very selective to protect their own time; otherwise, others will waste your time at every opportunity by drawing you in to listen to their problems or demanding that you help them with their work or projects. Many people will attempt to guilt you into helping them with things they would be better off doing alone. Often they will draw you into their scenario and then later blame you for not doing more to help or expect you to become responsible for the result of their lives. It is important not to enable others to remain weak. Always ask, “Is this mine to do?”
Spiritual maturity, sanity, happiness and health are all dependent on what I call “rational selfishness.” We have a responsibility to think of our own health, our own time and our own desires first. Once we’ve done this, we can make conscious decisions to choose to sacrifice our time and our desires in favor of selfless activity. If we always think of others first, and allow our time and energy to be used up by others, we have nothing left for our own desires and happiness. If we make helping others into what we trick ourselves into thinking will keep them near us, indebted to us, make them love us, make them respect us, we will be sadly mistaken.
People who do not save some of themselves for themselves and make taking care of others 100% of their life are not accomplishing what they came to Earth to experience. It is a way of abdicating our lives to someone else or others in general. It is a way of escaping what we came to do. Rational selfishness depends on thinking of yourself first, your own health, your own satisfaction with your life. If you spend all your energy on others, whether you admit it or not, you will eventually resent the people you are helping and resentment breeds ill health.
In relationships it is important for there not to be just one giver and one taker. It is important that even in the case of children that there is an energy exchange between people, even people who are too young to physically reciprocate to those who give to them. If a young mother is left to take care of small children 100% of the time without relief or help from others, they will begin to feel used and resentful. They may not admit this, because that would obviously make them “bad mothers”, and they may deny this, but the feelings will be buried deep within their subconscious. They may nag, gossip, overeat, withdraw affection or lash out and punish the children or other people inappropriately.
Many relationships depend on each individual playing certain roles for the other. Traditionally, the female is the care giver and the male the bread winner. Even in same sex relationships roles are usually defined or decided upon by one person being more of the care giver to the other. There is nothing wrong with being a care giver, but to be healthy one must receive care.
We are responsible for caring for ourselves first before we give to others. If we do not, we do not have anything extra to give and we are giving from our essential self. We are responsible for protecting our essential self energy for use by our own bodies and lives. To attract or maintain relationships that use up our time and energy, leaving none with which to pursue our goals, is against spiritual law. If you have friends or family who phone you and talk and talk and talk about their problems or the problems of the World, drop them, don’t answer the phone. For this purpose God gave us caller ID.
In the case of relationships and friendships, it is important that both parties are givers and receivers. In many cases, relationships are unequal energetically. If a male has not discovered how to access his own feminine energy, he will constantly need to be in the presence of females to use their energy to fulfill this need. If a female has not developed her ability to access her own male energy, she will always need to be in close relationships with men. This may be accomplished by being “daddy’s girl.” Or it may be accomplished by always being married or having multiple suitors.
Men who need female energy may be unhealthily tied to their mothers or may need multiple sex partners. Men often only know how to fulfill this feminine energy need through sex. Women learn early on how to gain male attention in order to fulfill this need in themselves.
In ongoing relationships, if one partner is not giving the caring the other person desires, it is common for them to cause an argument or disagreement. Arguments raise the level of energy, though not in a positive way. If a male can cause a woman to feel fear or anger he can then drain her energy. If a female does not feel as if her friend or partner is paying attention to her she may often cause an argument to get that person’s attention and energy. Once she has gotten the other person “worked up” she can drain that person’s energy. This is the reason many couples fight and then make up through having sex in order to get the energy fix they can’t produce for themselves.
As long as a friend or partner can engage you in an argument, especially an irrational argument, they can steal your energy. One of the steps in spiritual maturity and energy health is to learn to refuse to participate in irrational arguments. If you refuse to participate, refuse to get hooked, the other person must eventually seek other ways to fulfill their need or, in the best case scenario, they wake up and face responsibility for their own actions and their own lives. The rational person will remain healthy, projecting their desires into their own lives and following what is to their best interests.
It is a banner day when we finally wake up to the fact that we cannot change another person.
When the healthy person walks away from a potential argument, the other person is left in their own self-made trap. This is especially true when adults are dealing with teenagers. Teenagers have a lot of energy, much of which they do not know how to channel in a positive way. They are eager to pick fights, especially verbal ones, with their peers and especially their parents. They use these confrontations with parents to wear them down energetically to feed off of their energy and to attempt to get their own way. It is the responsibility of the parents to see what is happening energetically with the child and with themselves and to not agree to engage in irrational arguments.
When a person constantly acts against their own self-interest by being selfless and sacrificial, anger builds up inside them. To continue putting others’ needs in front of one’s own, to continue sacrificing, one must suppress that anger. Suppressed anger is capable of exploding or being repressed to the extent that it turns into an illness. Even sweet little old ladies who have spent their lives sacrificing for others, as the church has taught them, have repressed their true desires and emotions in favor of being “good.” Whenever a person denies a part of themselves that is natural and wholesome then the natural drive will be expressed in a distorted and unwholesome way.
I, not unlike many women, turned to religion in an attempt to give more meaning to my life than being a good daughter, wife and mother. The church told me that my sacrifices and unhappiness were the right thing to do. They also gained a free volunteer employee for many years while I was stuck in the belief that sacrificing my life completely for others was the “holy” thing to do.
Often when people spend their lives primarily serving others they often eventually break and run away because they know no other way to change their circumstances. This is often referred to as a mid-life crisis. A man may suddenly realize he has spent all his time providing for his family and not thinking of his own needs and desires. Of course, there are those who are also emotionally arrested adolescents who have spent their time and money doing as they wished and expected their wives or partners to be the adult. For women, they often wake up one morning and realize they have given their lives away to their parents, their husbands, their children and can’t remember who they really are other than the roles they play for other people. I actually thought the roles were who I was until all the roles were removed at once. I sat in a chair with pen and paper and asked myself, “Who am I without the roles?” I would write, “I AM…” over and over, not realizing I was giving myself the answer. Before and after all the roles I play, I am the I AM, God desiring to consciously live through this vehicle.
It is healthy to keep these guidelines in mind when dealing with intimate relationships:
- Put yourself first.
- What is best for you is also best for all concerned.
- We harm those we love the most when we give into their irrationalities.
- We also contribute to their irrational behavior when we let them get away with it.
- Those who refuse to grow up have to be put into the position of facing the consequences of their actions.
- Only when a person accepts responsibility for their actions will they mature and enhance the possibilities for building an increasingly rewarding future with a romantic partner.
Our lives must be lived from a place of balance for us to be emotionally and physically healthy. At times we must act selfishly in order to have time, energy and stamina to then give to others unselfishly. We can have compassion for others without sacrificing ourselves, unrealistically fulfilling the needs and desires of others. When we practice rational selfishness we practice self-respect and we offer that same respect to others.
Most of us were accused at some time when we were children of being selfish when we would not share something we had with others. It was used only in a derogatory way. We learn the way to please others is to give up ourselves and what we desire in favor of the desires of others. We live our lives for others rather than for ourselves. In living this way we lose our self-respect. We allow others to tell us what is right and what to believe in order to please them or to fit into a pattern that is not our real selves.
Developing self-respect, if you have not been respected by your parents or partners, can be very challenging. At first, a person can feel guilty and selfish when they pull back from being used and choose to analyze what would really make them happy. If a person doesn’t have self-respect, it is fairly easy to spot; especially if they get themselves into a position of authority. They talk down to others and make efforts to intimidate them. They do not have inner feelings of confidence and self-worth; if they did, they would be able to extend that self-respect to others.
Religions, for the most part, foster the idea of humility. It is a false way of developing humility through being selfless. A person who practices rational selfishness, who doesn’t latch onto readymade dogmatic answers, develops a true humility in the sense that they are willing to acknowledge the mistakes they make in life. They can admit their mistakes because they have a solid base of self-esteem and personal confidence. They can acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers, that they don’t know everything. They are willing to keep continually learning throughout their lives.
An individual is solely responsible for their life and choices.
Each individual is solely responsible for his or her own actions. That includes being responsible for what goes in and out of one’s own mouth. Mouth responsibility is a very important part of spiritual growth. We need to be responsible for the food, drink, drugs, smoke, genitalia that go into our mouths and the words that come out. Unnatural highs always destructively disintegrate a person’s physical or psychological life, or both. The ultimate high, however, comes from feeling in control of one’s own self, living honestly, rationally and productively.
Consciousness does not automatically take place. To become conscious, we must become conscious of who we are individually as units of consciousness and then ultimately understand our relationship to the Oneness of all life. If we attempt this from following the dogma set out by someone outside ourselves, we will fail. This process can only be accomplished from a point of self reflection.
To follow a set dogma creates a split in the brain. Dogma is a belief of the intellect and allows the left brain to control thinking and action. Often, after years of following dogma, which leads to irrational selflessness or irrational selfishness, a person’s right brain rebels and points out the falseness of the dogma. This point often leads to great confusion. If what I’ve believed isn’t real, isn’t true, what am I to believe? There comes a time in most people’s lives when intellectualizing is either no longer satisfying or no longer fulfills their true needs. Often this can only come at a point when logic fails us. “When all else fails, turn to God.”