Yesterday I lay in bed wondering… does my work really mean anything?
Am I being a selfish trout for focussing on such 1st world problems as bloody good lives, purpose finding and stress reducing?
Is it selfish in general for us to focus on ourselves, our “Project Self”?
Living in an age where for the first time ever, our basic needs are met, and we have the luxury of smartphones and choice and passion rather than just trying to make ends meet… we haven’t had to struggle like past generations have.
So is it selfish for us to focus on self actualisation rather than devoting ourselves to those parts of the world that are still struggling?
My Mum shared an article with me recently called How to Ruin Your Life (Without Even Noticing that You Are) that was about following your own path and not settling. I thought the article was brilliant, and largely mapped the course of my life, which is, I imagine why Mum plucked up her FB timeline posting skills and shared it with me. Underneath the article were a lot of great comments, but a few about the author’s selfishness and privilege for daring to suggest we focus on ourselves.
One commenter wrote
“The amount of suppressed privilege in this piece is abhorrent.
The sentiment is nice, the prose is lovely, but goddamn it’s selfish. IMO, you’re really failing to see your duty to others, financially, emotionally, spiritually. “
I’ve thought about this a lot, because I’ve grown up around people hell bent on changing the world, and sometimes I wonder if I’ve taken the easy route, focussing first on finding myself, and now helping others sort out their relationship with their mind so they can do the same.
However, as I responded to the angry commenter, I personally believe that when we work on ourselves, we become the best version of ourselves, and the best version of every human tends naturally (even biologically) towards helping others, whether financially, emotionally or spiritually. We’re wired for it.
You cannot sustainably or usefully support others until you’ve sorted your own shit out.
To sort through your own shit is the hardest and also the most selfless thing you could ever do.
Helping others deal with their shit while ignoring your own is to selfishly use the feeling of “doing good” to hide you own fear of addressing your own stuff. You will only be serving them on a shallow level, since you’re drawing from an empty well.
I honestly believe this, and in a world that has been kind to those of us who are reading this from a phone or laptop in a safe environment, I think it’s our duty to sort our own shit out first, so that we can stop being lost in our own world of mental suffering and pleasure seeking, and get out there, full of energy with the desire to be service to the world, in whatever way our skills allow us.’
I personally believe if you throw everything you have into helping others, you’d best be sure you’re emotionally and mentally stable enough to keep it up, otherwise at some point you’ll come out burn out, and then you’ll have no choice but to “selfishly” look after yourself til you’re back on solid ground.
But that’s just me,
maybe I’m making selfish excuses for what I do. It is possible, it’s hard to work out sometimes.
I’m still not sure so I’ve asked around some mates…
What do you think, Howard Thurman?
“Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Ghandi, whatdy’a reckon?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
“I’m starting with the…. maaaan in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer – If you want to make the world a bet-ter place take a look at yourself and make that… Change. Wooo. Woooo. Na na na, na na na…”