I am in mid-struggle with trying to cope with the extreme selfishness of others. I realize we are all selfish by nature, but there is a difference between healthy and toxic selfishness. These traits in people have always touched a nerve, but lately, it has seemed to burrow itself into a much deeper cavity.
I have recently discovered that extreme selfishness, the self-centered, arrogant and ungrateful kind has become a dominant pet peeve of mine. I am unsure of why this unbearable annoyance has become such an energy drainer of mine in recent days, but my plan is to combat it with some writing therapy and a whole lot of prayer.
I’m not here to point fingers or slander names. I’m not interested in that. I am however interested in changing the way I respond to this peeve of mine and seeing past their selfishness.
How do I do that?
First, I confess. I ask God to show me the logs I can take out of my own eye first. I open my heart and let Him do His awesome work. This is where I am honest with Him about how I feel. I hand Him over my ‘not so nice’ thoughts that river through my brain every time a person’s extreme selfishness reaches the doorstep in my life.
After that, I explore a little.
I address questions like,” Why does extreme selfishness nerve me to the bone?” And “Why can’t I just manage it by feeling compassion?
Please forgive me for the thoughts and feelings I have towards people who carry extreme selfishness with them. I know you want me to guard my heart as well as love my neighbor as myself. I confess to you Father, I am not feeling that way. I have become so irritated to the point where anger has now been woken. And since that beast is breathing, it has opened up a door that leads nowhere good. I ask for your forgiveness and your guidance in helping me come to peace with these type of people. I ask that you, please give me your eyes and heart so that I may feel real compassion, instead of disgust. Help me to see past these traits, and see what you see. I pray you fill my heart with peace, so that my anger can be out to rest and that my heart may be refreshed. I don’t want to feel this way, but I am bringing this to you openly and honestly. I am sorry Father. Please help me to rinse out all the excess garbage from my heart, so that I may be filled with your peace. Thank you. In your son Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.
Relationships are vital, whether they are romantic, platonic or business. Every one of them I value deeply and intensely. I don’t want brownie points for the effort I try and pour into them; I just want people to be grateful.
My expectations for the relationships in my lives are pretty simple. You can be as imperfect as you are. You can be as flawed as you are. I will Love you just the same. But, if you betray, deceive or neglect, then that’s where the relationship gets severed, no matter how painful letting go may be. For me, it is more painful to stay connected with someone who has done these things, then to let go. I will forgive, but I will also let go.
With that being said a person in my life who possesses severe selfishness only points in one direction…their direction. And one-way streets never work in long-lasting and healthy relationships.
There will always be a guarded distance because those types of traits a person carries are toxic. A relationship takes both people to understand and nurture the value of them. There should be compromise, acceptance, and support on BOTH sides. This is not all about YOU, and it’s certainly not all about ME. This means we are in this together. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments, we encourage one another’s dreams, and we make genuine strides back and forth to feed one another the proper needs a relationship requires to thrive. Selfish people see things a little differently apparently.
I have come to believe they do not know they are selfish. I had struggled to grasp this because it should be apparent to the person right? If you see that you are only making withdrawals from people for example, shouldn’t common sense be the alarm that tells you that?
Nothing aggravates me more when a person’s only engagement with you is when they need something for themselves and show no gratitude and zero interest in reciprocating appreciation or involvement when you’re in need of it. That is what a healthy relationship should provide. It makes me not want to do anything for them. Nothing.
There will always be times in our lives where we reach individual goals, pursue various paths, and possess particular passions. We desire our accomplishments and pursuits to be shared with those who are in our lives.
Also, there will always be a difference in lifestyles and schedules that will require both people to compromise. There will be times when we need to make some sacrifices, whether it’s a sacrifice of time or convenience. It’s not high maintenance to do this, it’s respect. It shows you value and care about your relationships enough to do these things.
So, how am I supposed to feel good about showing my Love and support onto a person like this? I have hit a brick wall, and that’s where I met my struggle.
I don’t want to feel this way. This isn’t who I am. I Love to Love, so when these type of feelings emerge; I fight with everything I have to remain as peaceful and as loving as I can. Some days are better than others, but this is what I always strive for. When someone’s selfish traits continue to taunt that peace, naturally I keep my distance. Not because I am hateful, but because I recognize the dangerous threats it contains. Who wants that?
We all have our flaws. I get it. This isn’t a flaw. This is a characteristic. One of which will do more damage than good, so I prefer to stay away. But, that still doesn’t solve my problem I have with being so angry and hurt by these types of people. The last thing I want to do is make waves with anyone. So, I let God in and turn to Him to help me.
Gaining a better understanding of where these traits come from may help me be more compassionate towards them versus being angry. By no means will it be easy. I thank God for His continued Grace because He knows there are many times I won’t hit the mark. Sometimes there are growls behind my smiles and cruel thoughts behind my silence. In other words, there is a human behind the walk.
There was a peak in my anger recently, and I was inches away from opening the floodgates of my emotion, but instead, I chose to find ways I could learn more about how to cope with these types of people instead. I know people are not likely to change; only God can alter the heart of a person.
Communication seems like a healthy way to overcome my bitterness. I could express how I really feel, and explain how their selfishness affects me vice versa. It would be wonderful if we all could sit down and have a cordial discussion on our feelings, but in many cases, I know where those discussions lead. They end becoming arguments that result in a painful divide.
In many cases, the smart choice is to learn how to accept and come to peace with some of the “not so bearable” traits of others, like extreme selfishness. The way to do that is to understand how to deal with them.
In 2014, an article was written in Psychology Today, where F. Diane Barth, L.C.S.W. wrote, “4 ways we can deal with the selfish people in our lives.” The article can be found here https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-couch/201403/4-ways-deal-selfish-people-in-your-life included the following:
Barth’s article shared the following 4 ways:
Understanding better where they are coming from
My takeaway from this is to try and comprehend that there may be deeper roots that are the cause to their selfishness. Perhaps a difficult upbringing, insecurities stemming from past abusive relationships or past regrets from their own life choices. If I focus more on these possible causes, It won’t make it excusable necessarily, but it will help me to show more compassion.
Don’t take it personally
Since there is likely a deeper cause for extreme selfishness, I know it is not about me personally. It doesn’t mean that person is out for my throat or purposely trying to hurt me. It just means that there is a root there that has been there long before I showed up.
This one helps me grasp the possibility that they are completely unaware they are even selfish. I automatically assume that they know and should see the error of their ways. Not necessarily the case. This doesn’t make it right, but it does make more manageable.
Remember that a certain amount of selfishness if healthy
This one I cannot deny. We are ALL selfish to a degree. The article points out that even when we help someone selflessly, we are still selfish because it makes us feel good doing it. It’s ok to celebrate your accomplishments, desire the support, and do things that provide a feel-good return investment. This helps me to pay attention to the line between a healthy and toxic selfishness. I ask myself the question, “Which side of the line are they on? Which side of the line am I on?” Determining this not only keeps my own selfishness in check, but it also helps me in knowing the proper distance to keep someone else’s.
The bottom line is I know I have to get better at managing this. Regardless of the levels of selfishness a person shows, it should not threaten my peace. I shouldn’t allow it to dominate my thoughts. Honestly, it’s not worth it. There are way too many other beautiful things for our thoughts to be consumed by.
I’m thankful the floodgates didn’t open and instead I chose to pray and write in hopes to obtain clarity and understanding. It will take practice and prayer, but this way is pure. It provides peace and a self-confidence in who I am and lifts me to a place of grace and maturity, where I can look past the selfishness of a person and instead choose to see their heart.