SELFISH VS. SELF-INTERESTED
selfish self-interest selfish self-interest selfish self-interest
“We don’t need to know or prove anything. Just to be, to take a risk and enjoy your life, is all that matters. Say no when you want to say no, and say yes when you want to say yes. You have the right to be you. You can only be you when you do your best.” – The Four Agreements
When was the last time you said, “No” and did what you wanted to do?
In every functioning society there are roles that everyone must play. As a child we get to play the role of a “student”. We’re expected to learn, grow, and take in as much of the world as we can in order to become a well-rounded adult. Yet we overlook and don’t appreciate the most important aspect of the role -the “explorer”. It’s the part of being a kid that meant trying everything to see what we liked or disliked, thus discovering who we are. But once we’ve outgrown that role we must move into the next. It’s the dreaded time of our lives when we all adjust to acting like an “adult”.
The dominant structures of society have always dictated what defines this role and have kept a firm grasp on it. Being an adult must come with a sense of responsibility and productivity in order to keep society functioning properly. We all have to do our part to contribute to the success of our communities. But it comes at a deep personal price. We have stopped truly caring for ourselves and put the needs of others before our own. So why is it selfish to stop consistently putting others ahead of ourselves?
No matter our differences we’re all human. And as a human we all have the same needs, one of which is social belonging. We can’t exist on our own. We need others for the survival of society and, more importantly, companionship. When trouble arises or disaster strikes it’s astonishing to see how quickly we can drop our differences and come together for a common cause. Whether we know it or not, we all have this sense of duty to others, which is why we can have difficulty putting ourselves first.
But it’s not about ignoring those in need or neglecting a commitment. It’s about learning the boundary between having a choice and feeling an obligation -even to those closest to us. We should never feel obligated to do anything against our will or that conflicts with our beliefs. So when we have the opportunity to choose our actions, we need to make sure it’s for the right reasons.
Once we understand who we are, who we want to be, and make the changes to get there, then we can choose the right reasons for ourselves. We can choose to do the things that make us happy and say, “No” to the things that aren’t in alignment with our mindset or goals. We don’t have to do things because it’s what everyone else is doing. And we don’t have to apologize for it.
When we choose ourselves and our happiness it’s not being selfish, it’s being self-interested. As long as our choice doesn’t bring about pain and suffering for someone else, we need to learn that it’s OK to choose you.
Practices & Motivations