This week, I pondered about selfish people and the attribute of being selfless.
I believe that in order to help others, you must first help yourself. If you can’t give yourself time or love, how can you give it to others? You have to first make sure that you are in a position to give, and then you do as you wish. But of course, there are people who are still able to give time and love to others even when they don’t have enough for themselves.
Without going into my princess lifestyle, my perspective is enough to tell you that I am a selfish person. By my definition, selfish people put themselves first and selfless people put others first. I have a hard time imagining putting someone else’s happiness before my own, unless there are personal gains or interests involved with the other person’s happiness, which then forth becomes my own happiness. To elaborate on this point, this is my perspective on whether or not true altruism exists:
One may argue that if you help someone who can give you nothing back in return, then you are being altruistic. I argue that if you receive pleasure or satisfaction, either in the form of ego or compassion, when you are helping another, then you are getting something in return, and therefore, you are fulfilling your own personal interests and not being altruistic.
So in short, everybody is selfish. Of course, the level of selfishness ranges from person to person, and there are always people who are so not selfish that they are at the brink of being selfless, which I’m not sure is an attribute that truly exists, but it’s as close as it gets. So to these “selfless” people, I wonder why they do this to themselves.
Because you see, I find that my life is filled with people who do many things for me, who put me first many times, but I don’t often do the same for them. I wonder why “selfless” people are staying in my life when they are the ones who deserve to be put first most of the time. They are the people who deserve to act selfishly, to demand time or affection, and to actually receive these things, but somehow selfish people like me receive them instead.
How is this fair? I watch in agony as “selfless” people give others their all, only to have others give them the minimal or not even half of what they offer.
Theoretically, being “selfless” is what we should all aim towards. It’s what makes the world a better place. But to all the “selfless” people busy making somebody else’s world a better place, I ask you: how is your world? Is there somebody helping you make your world a better place? Or are you so busy giving up pieces of yourself that you have none to keep?
People always assume that if you treat others well, you will be treated well in return. While this rule often rings true, it is not always the case to the same effect. Either intentionally or unintentionally, “selfless” people can be taken advantage of, little by little. A consistent feeling of always being the one to give in, to sacrifice, to be the “bigger” or better person sinks in.
I aspire to be kinder and more “selfless”, but take some advice from a selfish person: be selfish sometimes too. It’s okay to. The important people will still stay in your life. Some people just won’t treat you the way you should be treated, and this is not because they are a “bad” person. I don’t think “bad” people truly exist – actions and differing views are created through past experiences. So they have their own reasons for treating you “badly”, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be good to yourself.
It is perfectly fine sometimes to take care of yourself first, and you should have the self-respect to walk away from anyone who doesn’t allow you to.
“Don’t sacrifice yourself too much, because if you sacrifice too much there’s nothing else you can give and nobody will care for you.”
― Karl Lagerfeld