Selfishness and selflessness are two sides of the same coin. As the ancient Taoist religion of China teaches us, there is no such thing as something completely good or something completely bad. There cannot be darkness without light, as there cannot be hot without cold. The same thing holds true for selfishness and selflessness.
Every person that has ever lived was both selfish and selfless at the same time. Some of us may be selfish with our material possessions while others may be selfish when it comes to sharing feelings or opening up to others. It only stands to reason that in today’s world, no utterly selfless person could ever survive. People would take advantage until there will be nothing else left to give.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that we should be entirely selfish either because, in a sense, we would end up in the same place. We need to have both to survive and make the world a better place. When it comes down to survival, selfishness is vital, but when we’re talking about our personal lives, selflessness is crucial.
Being emotionally selfish with friends and family will almost always lead to a breakup in relationships. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to regulate our selfish behavior. Nevertheless, it is through our selfish instincts can we ever hope to become and understand selflessness.
The Road to Selflessness Is Through Selfishness
Like we said before, selfishness and selflessness are intertwined and not mutually exclusive. Being selfish will help us thrive economically while being selfless helps us in our social endeavors.
But since material desires and necessities sit at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it would only stand to reason that selfishness is more ingrained and harder to control. Nevertheless, as we go up this pyramid of needs, selflessness becomes the prime ingredient for success. Things like love, a sense of belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization can never be achieved without being selfless.
But if we boil it down, selflessness is about giving up something for someone else’s benefit. As we reach the point in our lives, that we know what we want and how we want it, it is quite hard to find any reason to be selfless.
That’s, of course, until we find ourselves in the situation of being on the receiving end of selfishness. It is during these times that we learn selflessness and it could not be possible without knowing selfishness first hand, both as a user and as a receiver.
Likewise, we’ve all been in the situation where we want to have our personal space and away from scrutiny. What this means is that we are actively looking to keep secrets – to feel that nobody has their eyes and ears on us. This search for independence has made us all push our parents, siblings, or partners away at some point in our lives.
But as necessary as this “breathing space” is, we should never go as far as pushing our loved ones from our lives. If things are left unchecked, we will build an emotional wall that will keep everyone out.
When it’s by choice, solitude is excellent. But when we continuously distance ourselves from the closest people in our lives, we will find ourselves utterly alone in a time of need, and things will inevitably become difficult.
It is, thus, through selfishness that we develop the necessary empathy to discover selflessness. If you want to learn more about this path of personal fulfillment, join us at the Women’s Self Care Conference on October 20, 2018. Don’t miss out on our early bird tickets!