For many of us, being called “selfish” is worse than any four letter word that you can imagine. In fact, the fear of being labeled “selfish” often causes us to ignore our own important needs and deepest desires. When our entire lives are shaped around the foreboding dread of appearing selfish, not only do we suppress expression, we also disregard what would bring us the most joy in life. We might even stay trapped in jobs and long term relationships well past their expiration date, simply because we are afraid that our choices might be deemed self-serving to others.
On the spiritual path, or even the path of being a “good person,” we are often told to think of others before ourselves. Maybe as children, we were taught that it is bad to be selfish or we were even punished for thinking of ourselves first. In theory, it might sound nice to put others’ needs before our own, but when we constantly put ourselves last without question, we stay asleep and disempowered.
How can you awaken, when you are ignoring your Self?
I spent the first twenty three years of my life pleasing others. Whatever someone asked of me, I always said yes. That sounds like a beautiful way to live except for one big problem. Every time I said yes to the desires of others, I was unconsciously saying no to my own desires. It was as if the entire world was vastly more important than me, but I didn’t know any better. It was the way I was raised and there was a big pay-off for always pleasing others. But the pay-off didn’t make up for the huge emotional cost of my own well-being.
To be perfectly honest, I was terribly afraid of being called selfish so I bent over backwards to avoid this debilitating label, but it didn’t work because no matter how much I did for others, if I even thought of myself first, or I said no, I would be called selfish. Even though I would do back flips to prove them wrong, under the surface, I had growing resentment.