Are you selfish or selfless?
When I decided to divorce, I was called selfish more times than I can count. Others thought I was putting myself first before my husband and children. In fact, I was, but I did it just as much for myself as I did it for my children. I was selfish and sadly, it took a long time to get to that point and be OK with it. I did not want my children to grow up with my marriage as an example. I could not be a present and happy mother in that marriage. I had to love myself enough to know that I deserved a better life.
So what’s so wrong with being selfish? Would people have preferred that I lived a life of misery? People would say that I didn’t try hard enough but how do they know how hard I tried? I imagine it’s like trying to tell someone to choose not to be homosexual. It’s not a choice, it just is and either one suffers in non-acceptance or they flourish in their truth. I had to live my truth because living a lie was nothing more than a slow, painful death sentence. To accept such a sentence is completely selfless because one is NOT at all thinking of themselves. Feelings of shame, unworthiness, or thinking we are undeserving can rule our life and make us believe that we must accept our “punishment” or fate.
Everyone knows someone who is always helping others. They are called selfless people all the time, but have you ever sat down and talked with one of these people? Often, they are exhausted, unhappy and unfilled. How can that be? I believe many times, these people feel an obligation, a duty to always help others. Coming from this place does not make the work fulfilling, it’s quite the opposite. Ever notice they literally refuse to take time for themselves? I feel it’s some sort of self-punishment. Now recall the helpful person who feels extreme enjoyment from helping others. That, to me, is selfish…and good. They are doing what fulfills them, which is helping others. And honestly, those they are helping can tell the difference.
When I think of the person I love (such as a spouse or boy/girlfriend), I think, why do I love them? I love them because they make me happy and fulfill me in some way (We have children because they fulfill a need to have one!). That is selfish, right? Of course, I give to the other for giving to me, but I have served myself first. I then continue to be selfish because making the other person happy makes me happy. I am giving out of a true place in my heart, not out of obligation.
We have all had our heart broken. Remember thinking the other person was cruel and selfish? In fact, we were the one’s being cruel in not allowing the other to be selfish. We wanted that person to stay even though it did not make them happy. Is it not cruel to wish unhappiness on a person we supposedly “love?” If we served the greater good in our true self we would want the one’s we love to live their own life, whether we agree with it or not. I have been on both sides of this scenario and I can say that I have never felt love from someone who was desperate to keep me at the expense of us both.
Many years ago when I had my affair, I believe that was my most selfless moment. I was not putting me or any one first. I was hurting myself and therefore, hurting my family. If I had thought higher of myself, had more confidence, but most importantly, had been a more aware human being, I would not have let my ego rule my life. I fed my ego that wanted to feel needed, smart, and beautiful. I allowed it to hurt me beyond anything I could have ever imagined. If I had had love for my true self, I would not have went on a journey that led me to wanting to end my life.
For me, being selfish is putting myself first so that I can be the best I can be to others. How can I be a present and loving mother if I never take time for what is important to me? Being fulfilled in my own life, that is doing what makes me happy, also creates a higher self-awareness, makes me a better wife, more helpful to others, and more pleasant to be around. It is why I sit here and write. I want to help others because it fulfills my soul.