Visions of tightropes and teeter-totters dance through my head when I consider the difference between being selfish and being selfless. Striking a balance between the two is essential in life yet far from easy.
It’s true that we must take care of ourselves before we can take care of other people. However, things can easily go way too far in either direction. The line between selfishness and selflessness can get kinda blury sometimes. In the past I know I’ve spent way too much time asking myself: “Am I acting too selfishly here?” And at other times: “Am I being too selfless. Do I need to think about myself more?”
Mental health and self-esteem play a big role. I suppose it’s understandable. Mental health troubles can drastically skew normal thinking. Being emotionally needy and vulnerable and having little-to-no self-esteem is a terrible way to live.
Learning to be selfish in the right kind of ways is a great thing. Developing a stronger sense of self most definitely has an effect on the way we treat other people. When we love and respect ourselves we can better love and respect other people…. for me, something to continue to work on.
Selfishness and blogging
Blogging can, in part, be a selfish endeavor. We want to share our story and connect. We want people to read our work, benefit from our wisdom and praise our brilliance. C’mon, we’re all a tad guilty of this aren’t we? And to a certain extent I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.
Over the years though I’ve had to consider whether I’m being too self-absorbed or coming off as too self-important… too selfish in other words. Finding a healthy balance can take some practice.
As much as I hate to admit it, when I first started reading other people’s blogs it was mostly for selfish reasons. I was looking to procure readers for my own blog. That’s how I inadvertently discovered a treasure trove of awesome and interesting bloggers, all with many various talents and interests. These days I thoroughly enjoy reading other people’s blogs and the only thing I regret is not always having enough time to do so.
That being said, there’s one big thing that can turn me off when reading blogs and that’s when a blogger only seems interested in “I” and “me.” It’s all about them and what’s happening to them. No thought seems to be given to the outside world other than how it affects them. It can just be so annoying.
Selfishness and narcissism
Clever selfish people know they can more easily get what they want if they do certain things for other people. Highly manipulative people make it difficult to tell the difference between selfishness and selflessness. Most of us have had plenty of real-world experience with this…. maybe every now and again we are guilty of it ourselves. Surprisingly though, I have found that good mental health is easier for me when I practice stepping outside of myself to consider the thoughts and feelings of other people. That’s just me.
A culture of selfishness?
- Here in America we are conditioned to want bigger and better things all the time. At the same time, there can be a lot of guilt placed on wanting and acquiring things.
- I often hear people comment on how selfish Americans have become and it’s only getting worse.
- Many of us were admonished as children to stop being so selfish.
- Most religions instruct us to be selfless instead of selfish.
Have we have become more selfish as a society? It’s certainly debatable but one thing I’m always quick to point out is that older generations of people have always had a tendency to point their fingers at younger generations and decry how selfish and irresponsible they are. I believe this is hogwash. Young people have always had a tendency to be that way and they probably always will be. Good or bad… little in society would probably ever change without it. Young people are capable of doing amazing things, too. That tends to get overlooked.
Here are a couple of links to consider for more fascinating info on this topic as well as some definitions. Have a great Moody Monday!
Selfish vs. Selfless on DarylWatson.org
Being Selfish vs. Being Selfless on AngieGreaves.com
Selfish: Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others. – merriam-webster.com/dictionary/selfish
Notable examples: Earl in the wonderful movie Waitress, Melvin in the beginning of As Good as It Gets. Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wallstreet, Annie in Misery, Hitler, Bernie Madoff, all serial killers.
Related terms: self-serving, self-absorbed, vane, conceited, narcissitic, egotistical, pretentious, self-obsessed.
Selfless: Having little or no concern for oneself, especially with regard to fame, position, money, etc. – dictionary.com/browse/selfless
Notable examples: Duckie at the end of Pretty in Pink, Harry in Armageddon, Mother Teresa, Harriet Tubman, Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, Ghandi starving himself for the plight of his people, Warren Buffett donating 99% of his fortune to charity.
Related terms we may use: humble, modest, kind, big-hearted, helpful, generous, charitable, magnanimous, benevolent, altruistic, philanthropic.