Discovering others performing actions with self interest masked by a facade of altruism is a depressing realization. Though we may expect people to operate with their own interests guiding the way, we tend to hope that others sometimes care for our interests too. It is especially depressing when we discover our close friends or family members being inherently selfish in their action and thought. Though they may care for your interests when they’ve satisfied their own, people do not fail to place their interests over ours when it is a matter of choosing between the two.
This train of thought leads toward a lonely realization. It leads to a notion that we may be very alone in this world. How thirsty does the person who loves us most need to be in order to not think twice about drinking all the water? How tired must they be to not answer our call for help in the middle of the night? Selfishness shows itself in times of desperation, and just how your own selfishness would become your main point of focus should you be pressed, so would everybody else’s.
How should we deal with the fact that we may be alone in looking out for our interests? How do we deal with humans’ innate selfish desires? This article hopes to help you navigate these thoughts by offering ways of dealing with others’ selfish tendencies, as well as to propose a possible benefit to these realizations.
For Wisdom, Read the Airplane Safety Guide
For those who’ve been on a commercial plane in recent times, the instructional safety demonstrations are easy to tune out due to their boring and repetitive nature. There is one part of the safety guide however, which carries with it wisdom. The part in question details that if breathing masks drop down from your overhead compartment, you should always focus on putting your own on first prior to helping anyone else. Whether it is your child, your parent, or your significant other, your ability to help those who depend on you is directly dependent on your own ability to breathe.
This seemingly selfish act is a necessary enabler of your ability to help those you care for most. We depend on selfish behavior to empower us in our journey to make the world a better place. You can only take care of those close to you when you’ve taken care of yourself, and you can only focus on improving the world at large when those close to you are safe and comfortable.
Do not make your perception of others’ selfish behaviors a big deal. Selfish tendencies exist in all of us for a reason. Rather than internalizing others’ selfish behaviors as playing a role in making the world a lonely place, what if we are forced to be selfish due to the fact that the world is a lonely place to begin with? Come to a peaceful understanding that nobody can make a positive mark on the world if they don’t first act selfishly to satiate whatever hunger they feel.
Make the people you interact with comfortable in expressing their selfish desires to you, and do not be judgmental of their predictable selfish tendencies. You will be able to easier protect yourself if others are comfortable in expressing their selfish tendencies around you, and will be able to predict their behavior in a more effective way. Normalize selfish behavior as if it was a force akin to hunger, thirst, and tiredness. Accept the fact that everyone you interact with is operating with selfish tendencies to varying degrees, and do not view this notion from a negative standpoint.
By Expecting Selfishness, You’ll Be Trained to Notice Kind-Hearted Individuals
By normalizing selfish behavior in your mind, and expecting it in everybody you interact with, you’ll be able to spot kind-hearted individuals more easily. Normalizing something makes things which are not normal to your perception, stand out. By expecting others to be selfish, practicing to predict their selfish ways, and making them feel comfortable in being selfish around you, the outliers will begin to stand out. You will grow to appreciate those who suppress their selfish tendencies until it truly is time to act selfish. There are people in this world who are kind to their detriment, and there will be people who ensure everyone else has their breathing masks on prior to putting on their own. Though they do not understand that selfishness has a role to play in improving the world around them, they operate with good intentions and with a warm, loving heart.
Cherish the people in your life who gravitate away from selfish behavior, and become good at spotting a truly kind individual. These people can only be labeled as kind when you normalize what selfish looks and feels like. If you assume all of humanity to be innately kind-hearted, you will miss out on the people who actually are.
Do not be upset at people who act in selfish ways, and expect that behavior from humanity. It is a human instinct which some allow to run awry, but is nothing to be upset about or resent. Be selfish in your own right when you need to be, as you can’t save the world if you don’t first save yourself. Expect this selfish instinct in everyone you interact with, and only then will you differentiate those who are able to suppress the desire to be selfish. Love and protect the people who show you that they’ve been able to suppress the desire to be selfish to levels which can be labelled kind and noble.