This is an important topic, in my opinion. Some times the definitions of these two very different adjectives get confused. For example, a REAL selfish personality would most likely not offer time or much of anything to another- even if he/she has no reason not to – just because he/she may not receive a benefit in return. The selfish personality will only do for him/herself. A selfish personality will also never hesitate to take advantage of the less selfish – whom they consider “weaker”. This particular behavior exposes the true difference between a REAL selfish personality and someone who is just trying to preserve or guard him/herself against the effects of a REAL selfish personality. Keep in mind that truly selfish people make up a very small percentage of our population. Most of us are giving by nature, but are preserving ourselves, in other words, defending ourselves from the effects of the truly selfish personality. In order to avoid that terrible feeling of being taken advantage of and/or manipulated and stepped on, most of us just shut down and avoid sharing ourselves with others because of fear that we will be made a fool of eventually.
Why is this important to think about – because it goes to show us that we cannot judge another person – EVER! We have no idea what makes that person tick and why they behave the way that they do – good or bad. But what we can do is preserve ourselves in a way that elevates us and allows us to hold on to our self esteem with out losing our identity. This means that if you feel that someone is taking advantage of your good nature and you do not feel good about it, you have two solid choices…
1) Go ahead and be the good guy – but – understand and except that you very likely may be taken advantage of and manipulated by a truly selfish person. If you can come to terms with that internally and still want to help that person, you are on a very high level of humanity and I aspire to be like you. This is a very hard place to get to. I, myself, would love to reach that level, but sometimes (most of the time – if I’m being honest with myself) it is just not possible. I still struggle with the question as to whether or not I am even helping this person that has no problem taking advantage of my kindness. Isn’t it my responsibility to not allow that person to get away with that behavior. I, of course, cannot control his/her behavior towards others, but I can absolutely control his/her behavior towards me. I can accept it or reject it. Just like a parent with a child. If you allow the child to repeat bad behavior, the bad behavior will become ingrained and it is harder to eliminate it later.
Which brings us to option two…
2) Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of, however, clearly explain to the person how you feel. Explain to the person precisely why you are not going to accomodate him/her the way they would like you to. Take a lot of deep breaths and take as much time as you need to get all those feelings out comprehensively. He/she may or may not listen or care what your reasons are, and they may even turn around and call you selfish (which has literally happened to me) but the release of the feelings inside of you is not really for the benefit of the selfish person – a truly selfish person will not care one iota about your feelings. The release is for you, so that you can consciously understand why you had to go against your nature and do something that doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. It might sound silly to you, but positive affirmations are very healthy mentally and this is a great way to practice this concept (without feeling too “new agey”).
When the time comes that you have to make a choice as to how you are going to deal with negative influences in your life, one thing is for sure, you should never leave unhappy. Make sure that the choice you make elevates you and doesn’t tear you down.
There is nothing wrong with being taken advantage of – if all you want is to maintain your identity as a truly giving soul..au contraire.. it is the other way around..by not allowing someone to challenge your identity, you are taking advantage of the situation and using it as an opportunity to make you a stronger individual.
On the other hand, resisting the desire to help another inorder to preserve your self esteem is not selfish. It is called self preservation – and there is nothing wrong with that either.
It is your choice. We were given free will as a gift from our Creator. Use it wisely!!!
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