Are We Selfish?

Selfish-person-quotes-care-for-others-quotes

Are we selfish? When this question crops up in my mind, I try to seek an answer within myself first. Am I selfless? After much thinking and admonishing myself, I try to extract an honest answer out of my evasive mind…

“Well, we all have selfish tendencies –  it is only human,” my inner voice whispers.

At times I might have offered my services, done something good for others, without expecting anything in return. Is that enough?

I have given unconditional love to my children and family but another question confronts me…”doesn’t everybody do that?”

‘No, everybody doesn’t do that’, says my friend.

Why are children abandoned, abused, killed? Many of them grow up in acute neglect.

So I went on to search…what exactly is selfishness? While it was so confusing and mind boggling, two definitions appealed to me:

According to Wikipedia: “Selfishness is placing concern with oneself or one’s own interests above the well-being or interests of others.”

According to Oscar Wilde: “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

I again asked myself: Do I fit in here? I have never placed ‘my interest’ above but my inner voice slowly speaks: “sometimes, you have!”

I ignore that voice and tell myself: I have never asked others to live according to my wishes. But these arguments didn’t melt my doubts.

Why did I choose only these definitions? Because they suit me?

This reminds me of a woman who gave up her successful career to look after her ailing husband. She was applauded by everybody and was called selfless, but she admitted that she was selfish because she had placed her own concern over and above anything else.

“A selfless act out of even the purest desire to do for others, will be selfish in the satisfaction and happiness it brings to one doing it.”―Ashly Lorenzana

My friend thinks falling in love is also selfish! Isn’t that absurd? How can the basic human emotion make us selfish?

When I try to analyze further, I agree with the reasoning: Love makes people selfish. It crosses all boundaries, it transcends all values and it drags them away into their own world. “Love is the most selfish of all the passions,” said Alexandre Dumas.

I ponder further…

Even those who work for the welfare of others are selfish as they have their own goals in mind… perhaps they want fame, power, self-fulfillment or are eager to record their names in the pages of history.

So I realized that:

  • Selfishness can be defined according to one’s own perspective.
  • Selfish traits are inherent.
  • Self- interest takes us closer to our goals.
  • Selflessness doesn’t bring any rewards.
  • Sacrifices are mocked at in today’s world.
  • The more you acquire, more selfish you become, whether in terms of money or knowledge.
  • Selfish people are actually weak, insecure and unhappy.

Let’s look within:   

  • Are you kind and considerate?
  • Are you tolerant?
  • Do you listen to others?
  • Do you really understand the feelings of others?
  • Do you respect the opinion of others?

I know we all nod to the above questions without giving a profound and honest thought to them. I also hope these questions will keep guiding us toward better understanding and enhancing our personality.

If selfishness hurts you, don’t forget it hurts others too. A little concern for people around us makes us emotionally balanced and less selfish.

Have you come across selfish people? Do you have a different understanding of selfishness? It’s your turn to share your valuable opinion.

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© Balroop Singh

How To Know Yourself?

Know Yourself

Do you know yourself?

Yes, I know your answer is positive but my next question is: How much?

If you really know yourself, try writing down ten points each about your personality, aspirations and relationships, to understand what I am trying to say.

As we shed off our childhood and adolescent illusions and step into the real world, we realize that life is much more than just dreams and expectations.

First we have to define those concepts, break them into pieces and perceive what is going to work for us. We have to anticipate the range of our flight. It is at such a time that that we start understanding ourselves.

Knowing your real self begins with a journey within – a journey we never dare to undertake! We invent excuses, delude ourselves thinking we have no time; sometimes we may be genuinely too busy to introspect.

We live in compartments, we perform different roles, sometimes we have to pretend to be what we are not and thus we don’t pay much attention to our true selves.

In one of the interview sessions, the one basic question we asked the interviewees was: ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’

Invariably, they stumbled upon this question. They paused to think and could only mention one or two of them.

As I smiled at them to ease the situation, a serious dialogue would emanate in my mind. I snubbed it at those times to introspect in my leisurely hours, to understand why this was such a difficult question.

While I could come up with many answers so far as my own strengths were concerned, weaknesses would elude me and I had to think deeply to dig them out.

Probably we try to push our weaknesses under the carpet.

To know yourself, know your weaknesses and your fears even before you know your strengths. Those monsters of fear that we try to shove into the deepest crevices become empowered and keep lurking around the corners. The shadows of those fears dissipate only when we pull them out into light and talk to them.

To know yourself, try to answer the following questions:

  • How many fears are still lurking around you and how many have you buried temporarily?
  • How many lies do you tell yourself to satiate your ego?
  • How much have you learnt from your mistakes?
  • How much wisdom have you picked up from your surroundings?
  • How much of your laughter is genuine?

To know yourself,

  • You have to understand your emotions and capabilities and how far you can go to accomplish your goals,
  • How well you can handle your failures and your unfulfilled dreams,
  • How much you would like to acquire in terms of material possessions,
  • What are your boundaries,
  • How much do you care for the people around you

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.” ~ Lao Tzuknow-yourself

Self-confabulation for knowing yourself:

We often talk to ourselves to clarify our doubts, to form our views and overcome the difficult situations. It is this conversation, which acquaints us with our real self. Our opinions are usually shaped by people around us – our parents, teachers, peers, friends…our own perceptions are drowned in their guidance and control.

Self-reflection melts the mist of this guidance. It unshackles us and encourages us to think freely, to think differently so that we can take the reigns of our real self in our own hands.

How Sharing helps:

The next step is to share your thoughts with your digital partner, which just listens calmly and makes you think further. It doesn’t dishearten or criticize, it lets you relax and reach at a conclusion at your own will.

Earlier I used to write my wishes and doubts in a journal but with the advent of smart phones, we don’t even have to reach for a pen!

Some thoughts just come and go, some dreams are quite impractical and some may be beyond our reach but by writing them down, we can ponder over them, trying to figure out whether they resonate with us and exhort them out of our system to feel better.

Our true selves, our potential and determination get revealed at such moments when we try to dissect our thoughts and emotions with our own self.

How Introspection helps:

Are you capricious? Do you get influenced by others’ expectations? If you feel that you are walking the path, which makes you wonder where you are heading…introspection on daily basis, before you step into the land of slumber, can really help.

At such moments we don’t have the intolerance or the prejudice working against our colleagues, friends and kindred who may have wronged us. We just have a calm and patient mind, free from all ill feelings to understand our reactions.

That inner voice, which we snub in the presence of others, is most active now and we too are more receptive. You can discover the reasons of your indecisiveness; know how much you revere your values and what is your real passion.

Freedom of thought and action lies at the core of knowing yourself. They play a significant role in our development too. I didn’t know myself till I got these opportunities.

If you have liked the above excerpt from my book Allow Yourself To Be A Better Person, please click on the link to read more.

How did you discover your real self? How important it is for you? I am waiting to hear from you.

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Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

-Balroop Singh

Celebrating 100th #Poetrychallenge with Colleen

Poetry challenge rules have always intimidated me but I would like to grab this golden opportunity of celebrating with Colleen whose weekly poetry challenge has accomplished 100th milestone and she has given a free choice of words to write a Tanka.

Tanka about self judgment

My inner critic loves
To reprimand softly but passionately
A sentinel of emotions
Who apprises me of the progress
Made on the arch of consciousness.
© Balroop Singh

Freedom is the mother of inspiration. Thank you dear Colleen, I am still learning to write Tanka, Haiku and Senryu, one step at a time.

You can click here for more poetry.

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Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

How Negative Emotions Can Be Beneficial For Our Personality?

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Negative emotions are more powerful and dominant. They invade uninvited; they affect our thoughts and behavior instantaneously and refuse to be tamed easily.

Since childhood we are trained to control these emotions but however hard we may try to bury them, they keep coming back, raising their ugly head again and again to remind us that we have to confront them.

We are encouraged to dismiss them, shun them as their implicit impact is considered to be negative – a streak that discolors our personality.

I don’t support this outlook.

My conviction is that negative emotions play a meaningful role in molding our personality:

  • They unlatch the doors of understanding and learning
  • They enhance our confidence
  • They give us a wide exposure
  • They impel us towards introspection
  • They help us in developing resilience
  • They assist us in building better relationships

“Negative emotions like loneliness, envy and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.” – Gretchen Rubin

Lets analyze them.

Anger:

It may be a natural emotion but it is detested by all. Angry outbursts often make us unpopular but it is only after we have experienced this emotion that we comprehend the need of calm behavior.

Anger has been my companion since childhood and whenever it got activated, I could feel the blood gushing through my veins as if they would burst, my blood pressure rising but in the whirlwind of anger, I could also experience its consequences, the unidentified thoughts rushing to issue a warning – enough!

When we watch an angry person, reacting in an uncivilized manner, don’t we get the alert? Don’t we promise ourselves to respect tranquility?

Anger may be a negative emotion but it leads us to positive paths of acceptance, of reflection and tolerance. When the anger subsides, we try to find some answers – what makes us angry? How can we check the flow of this negativity?

Anger slowly guides us towards serenity when we realize that the latter has incredible power to tame anger.

Hatred:

Nobody tells us to hate yet this innate emotion surfaces quite early when we are growing and forming our opinions about people.

It is through hatred that we learn the meaning of love. It is through this emotion that we learn about the prejudices against people and how important it is to overcome them.

The stark distinctions unravel before our own eyes when we meet different kinds of people.

“We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.” – Mitch Albom

Whether hatred is directed towards a person or a group, an attitude or somebody’s behavior, deep rooted or temporary, this emotion disseminates a feeling of righteousness in the minds of people. It upholds the values of justice, honor and equality. One person’s hatred becomes another person’s lesson.

Fear:Negative emotions

The fear of loneliness keeps us connected with people, the fear of getting disliked teaches us at a very early age that we must be pleasant, kind and cooperative to our friends.

The fear of competition, the fear of failure, the fear of others’ success acquaints us with the most coveted values of life. These fears keep us motivated to stay focused, to struggle harder and learn from our disappointments.

The fear of losing our emotional anchors, the fear of the unknown, of being inadequate may frighten us but they also give us the courage to face the cruel realities of life.

The fear of uncertain future keeps us striving for something better. It adds greater value to our life.

It is the fear of dark that infuses in us the determination to find light, to hope for brighter days,

You must have experienced this dilemma of conquering fear, which makes us stronger and more resilient.

So why get scared of this negative emotion, which steers us towards positivity?

Sadness:

It is during the gloomy moments of life that we remember how blissful happiness is. Sadness shows us the cheerfulness in its right perspective.

We can value happiness only after we have encountered those depressing days we loathe.

Grief familiarizes us with those little joys we failed to appreciate when they lingered around us, unnoticed.

The blessings of life assume a special connotation after we emerge victorious from our suffering. It helps us develop patience, forbearance and calmness. It gives us the gift of introspection.

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” – Hellen Keller

Anxiety, nervousness, jealousy, arrogance have one thing in common. They are natural teachers. If you follow them, befriend them; they may play with your emotions for a while but the prudence that accompanies them often seeps into your personality unawares.

Negative emotions are very subtle and deceptive. They absorb more energy but they often walk away victorious, testing our patience and strength, ennobling us, belittling our ego, thereby transforming us into humble human beings.

Do you dismiss negative emotions without dealing with them?

Do they knock you down or do you learn something positive from them?

I am eagerly waiting for your answers.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks. 

Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.