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.

3 thoughts on “Healthy Selfishness

  1. You know what? If we were reality friends too instead of just internet friends I would so give you the hug you need.
    I think you need to tell them you just can’t. Which is so damn easy for me to type when I can’t do it in real life either. Mostly.
    Although a story if you don’t mind…
    My mother wasn’t quite the best mother. In fact I was more the mother then she was. She borrowed money from me constantly. Money I couldn’t afford and money she didn’t pay back. If I told her I couldn’t afford it she would cry or guilt me to death until I gave in. She used guilt like a weapon and it worked. Constantly.
    One day I realized I couldn’t do it any more. I couldn’t fedx her cash or western union her cash because she went to Reno and didn’t have gas money to come home. Or any of her other million reasons for asking me for cash. I made up my mind to tell her no the next time she asked.
    She asked and I said no. She guilted and cried and cried. I stayed firm.
    Then when I was alone I cried like my heart had been ripped from my chest. I wanted to make her happy. I wanted to be the good person. I wanted to be ….helpful.
    I bawled for days and she didn’t call me. I called her and she didn’t have time to talk. I cried a bit more.
    But I was firm the next time she asked. Cried again cause I am a big old baby but I was firm.
    She no longer asks. I still to this day feel guilty but I also am no longer giving something of myself and my pocketbook that I can’t afford.
    So Kevin I think it is where you decide to make a stand. If your person doesn’t understand then they are not worth knowing. If they are related then you need to step back. Love them but don’t give of yourself until you hurt. Life is to short for that.
    And life isn’t all wonderful and flowers so I wouldn’t expect a blog that is reality to be either. Don’t sweat it. Tell it like it is. After all the blog is the one place we can do that right?

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