Are We Selfish?

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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

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Do You Admire People Pleasers?

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Could you walk an extra mile with me? They agree.
Could you carry this bag for me? They do.
Could you supervise my lunch today? They get the real message of putting an extra effort.
Could you help me and give a daily report of your colleagues? They feel honored.

Bosses exult at their loyalty and sincerity.
Friends mock at their “loving nature.”
Siblings bully them into believing that they are loved.
Spouses manipulate them to get things done.
The acquiescence and complacence of people pleasers baffles me.

Who are they?

People pleasers are gentle, kind and loving persons. They can never confront an unpleasant situation and try to diffuse it with their goodness. Their intentions may be noble but they boomerang. People start taking them for granted. They lose their identity and get tossed by the tides of time and life.

They don’t want to rock their boat but choose to sail in it; oblivious of the fact that it can capsize any moment with the emotional baggage they carry within themselves. True love eludes them.

Some of them are highly ambitious and focused. They know how to gatecrash to the right position just through pleasing tactics. I marvel at their pleasing skills!

Why do they please?

Do they please to get loved? Yes, they believe love can conquer all till they face the ugly truth of fake love.
Do they please to get a position? Yes, and many succeed even at the cost of getting enslaved.
Do they respect themselves? I have my doubts but their perspective could be different. I have seen them justify their actions.
Do they ever introspect? If they do, I wonder how do they justify crushing their spirit for the sake of others?

In professional relationships, people pleasing may be rewarding even at the cost of self-ignominy, stress and overwork but at a personal level, people pleasers do reach at the brink of breakdown.

Do you think they live for others? I don’t think so.
Some live in the make-believe world of self-admiration, thinking they are exceptional human beings, born to be altruistic. Others have some goals in mind, which they want to accomplish even if they have to kiss the shoestrings of their boss.
Often they fail to detect abusers and manipulators around them and slowly start accepting emotional abuse as a part of life.

Can they be trusted?

People pleasers are extremely selfish and can never be good friends. They are opportunists and would grab every chance that can be twisted for their own benefit. Relationships are secondary for them and their true self is unknown even to them. I have seen them changing their colors according to the situation. They know how to save their skin and win some brownie points too!

Have you met any people pleasers? I am waiting to hear your perspective.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your valuable reflections, as they are much appreciated.

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Balroop Singh.

 

Summit

Horizon
Sue Vincent’s #write photo

Fear watched in awe
Mist of doubt dissipated
As he climbed up dauntless
Talking only to his mettle

Friendly talk fell apart
At the speed he sustained
Daggers drawn at everyone
Knocking rivals down

Climbing upon carcasses
Swinging on subterfuge
Intoxicated by a vial of venom
In pursuit of self-glorification

Could a menacing sky dissuade him?
Could Earthly shackles restrain him?
Even woods and waterfalls
Couldn’t persuade him

Not a moment of reflection
As summit beckoned him
He knew zenith was waiting
Just for him

Alone he stood, friendless,
Captive at the top of the world!
Contrite at his truimph
Success comes at a price!
© Balroop Singh, July 2018

Thanks to Sue Vincent for an inspiring Thursday photo prompt Summit #writephoto.

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