Healthy Selfishness

So much effort goes into being happy.  And I’m just talking about being happy for yourself not for anyone else.  Throw others into the mix and forget it!  Expectations will always be too high, nothing is ever going to be good enough and sometimes you’ll get bitch-slapped in the process of trying to measure up. Sometimes I think it’s all just too hard to manage.

I want nothing more in this world than to be able to live my life the way I see fit.  Be content with my existence, be content with the existence of others and have others be content with mine.  Why must we always concern ourselves with what other people expect of us?  Why isn’t it enough, just to be who we are?

There’s a question I struggle with about how to be, how to act in certain circumstances.  Through my process in therapy, I’m learning a thing or two about taking care of myself.  I’m learning to look out for myself, not myself only but myself first. Sometimes looking out for myself first, conflicts with “being there” for someone else.  So the dilemma I deal with is how to act when someone you care about wants something from you which you are not equipped to provide?  How do you behave when someone you care about wants something from you which would hurt  you to provide?  How do you behave when someone you care about wants something from you which would hurt you to provide, but you know  that person isn’t capable of hearing and understanding that?

There is so much contradiction.  The question I want to ask is how can we be so self-absorbed not to see when other people are hurting?  How can we be so wrapped up in ourselves all the damn time that we can’t see when our needs, as we foist them onto others, are hurting the person being foisted upon?  But then I wonder, am I just as guilty?  Am I inflicting pain on others by looking out for myself first?  Where do you draw the line?  I suppose in an ideal world, I’d be able to sit and listen until I can’t take any more and then be able to tell a person, “I’ve reached my fill.  I can’t hold anymore right now,” and that would work.  For that to work, though, both me and thee would need to be  emotionally healthy people, and clearly neither of us is.

For my part, I try to minimize the impact by not spewing my venom every moment of every day over multiple city blocks.  I know my life  sucks.  I know my work circumstances suck.  I also know that venting it on the unsuspecting (unwilling) continuously, isn’t going to change  that, and so I shut up.  I’m not perfect, occasionally a grumble slips out.  Occasionally, a small amount of venting happens and I appreciate  the audience.  I’m even willing to allow the same of others.  I’m willing to allow others the occasional vent.

But, look into my eyes.  Look deep.  Really see me.  Do you not see the shadow?  Do you not see the storm that rages on the horizon of my heart?  Do you not see the floods that are rising?  Do you not see that at any moment that dam will burst and the flood waters will pour down my face?  Do you honestly not see that I’m holding on by a thread?

I’m struggling right now, really struggling.  It’s different from before.  I don’t really know how to explain it except to say that I’m holding on for  dear life.  The baggage I already carry is too much and if I add any more, if I add any one else’s baggage, I’m going to lose my grip.  Maybe I’m being just as self-absorbed as the rest, but I simply can not take any more and I really think this should be obvious.

I’m not sure where to go with this and there’s something I’ve wanted to share for a long time and never had the right opportunity.  This feels like it.  I found this, of all places, in a Better Homes and Gardens calendar and it really resonated with me:


Many psychologists see healthy selfishness as a higher level of mental function that can help you reach your full potential.  People who practice healthy selfishness have a zest for living, a joy that comes from savoring one’s accomplishments.  Healthy selfishness opens the door to a life of freedom – freedom from being ruled by the opinions and demands of others as well as freedom from the  voices in your own mind, often left over from your childhood that judge and blame you relentlessly.