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View Full Version : Is it wrong to want to become colder and more selfish?



Pika...
2011-02-24, 08:44 AM
The short of it is for a while now people have endlessly been taking advantage of me due to my kindness and softness. The last few months really putting the point across that if a@@holes always win, then I need to get colder and more selfish.

It's time for some serious ME focusing, and if that means I have to care a LOT less about others and their well-being, I think that is OK. I am just so sick of it.


Have anyone of you been in this crossroads in life?

Comet
2011-02-24, 08:55 AM
You should look after yourself, for sure, but don't overdo it. Kindness is a great thing, don't lose it.

So, more selfish is OK, but growing colder is not. At least that's what I think, the world already has enough cynics going around and screaming about how evil humanity is and how we would all be better off dead. Don't become one of those people.

ghost_warlock
2011-02-24, 09:10 AM
Well, as the saying goes, if you can't beat them, join them. :smallwink:

druid91
2011-02-24, 09:19 AM
You should look after yourself, for sure, but don't overdo it. Kindness is a great thing, don't lose it.

So, more selfish is OK, but growing colder is not. At least that's what I think, the world already has enough cynics going around and screaming about how evil humanity is and how we would all be better off dead. Don't become one of those people.

First part agreed.

And don't forget the people who "know" just how horrific the human race is and instead of wishing us all dead it amuses the heck out of them.

pendell
2011-02-24, 09:25 AM
It sounds to me as if you are seeking the virtue of Temperence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperance_%28virtue%29). That is, the virtue of being balanced, of neither being over-soft nor over-hard. At present, you are over-soft and must become harder. Perhaps later a correction in the opposite direction will be necessary.

To mangle a quote from a very old book --

"If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, what am I?
And if not now, when?"


In my experience, modern teachers tend to forget this truth. They extol compassion, forgetting that too much compassion can become enabling. Or they can extol discipline, forgetting that too much discipline becomes brutality.

To my mind , true goodness -- if you are striving to be on the "good" side of the alignment spectrum -- comes from navigating Scylla and Charybdis, from avoiding extremes. To my mind , vices come into the world in pairs -- if there is gluttony, there is also anorexia. If there is overwhelming arrogance, there is also the low self-image that makes a human capable of nearly any shameful deed.

So -- no, I don't believe you're wrong to want to become harder. It sounds to me as if you're the victim of teachers who have emphasized a virtue -- selflessness -- literally "to the point of fault". Forgetting that selflessness, when taken to an extreme, becomes a doormat for other people.

I dunno what your ethical background is, but I was taught that my ethical prime directive is to do to the other fellow what I would want done to me. But I can't treat other people well if I don't treat myself well. If I hate myself, I hate other people.

So if I am going to love other people I must love myself first.

THEREFORE, a certain amount of selfishness is healthy. Just not too much of it.

You aren't going to hear this often, bacause it seems like most teachers don't recognize this. They pick a pet hobbyhorse and ride it into the ground, confident that they're dealing with selfish people who need as much encouragement as possible to be selfless. But there ARE people on the other side -- people literally too selfless for their own good -- for whom this has the same effect as tossing an anchor into the side of a boat that's already overloaded.

And yes, I have been there.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

rakkoon
2011-02-24, 09:30 AM
Pendell? we are not worthy, we are not worthy :smallsmile:

He said it much more eloquently than I ever could.

loopy
2011-02-24, 10:00 AM
As has been noted, don't let go of your kindness completely.

...When you become a selfish manipulative bastard you can use it to manipulate people. :smallamused:

If you want to be a wolf, be a wolf in sheeps clothing.

Trog
2011-02-24, 11:14 AM
Pendell? we are not worthy, we are not worthy :smallsmile:

He said it much more eloquently than I ever could.

Agreed.

Some times in your life you have to look out for number one just to make sure you stay healthy and sane. Like when you are sick and you get extra rest because you need to heal. The mind needs healing time too. Especially when troubling events occur. Going through one of those spells now, in fact. Gonna take care of myself for a while (and my kids of course) until I feel like my old self again.

As to the colder thing I said something on my facebook the other day about feeling cold and empty inside. A former poster on the forums said I should make a snowman inside and shove a carrot in it's nose or something like that.

I said I would, instead, make, inside, a snow globe. So when I'm shaken up everything's still all snowy and magical inside.

Food for thought.

Serpentine
2011-02-24, 11:19 AM
And I still want a Trog snowglobe...

Telonius
2011-02-24, 11:30 AM
There's an old Russian proverb that gets to the heart of this: "Trust but verify." Basically, don't cut yourself off from the help that others can give, but don't be a sucker either. (They even have a term for that sort of thing in Game Theory: the "Retaliator" strategy).

Moff Chumley
2011-02-24, 11:34 AM
Well, as the saying goes, if you can't beat them, join them. :smallwink:

This. I guess you have to figure out what's important to you: not getting taken advantage of, or being a mensch. Not that you can't do both, but that's haaaaaaaaaard... :smalltongue:

Pika...
2011-02-24, 01:05 PM
Thanks. Especially Pendell and Trog. Both names I am familiar with on here for good reason.

But the thing is, for once I want to be the one to win at life at any cost. I am tired of caring so much about others. I do not want to be the guy who at Christmas times will put the last of his change in the Salvation Army red bucket when I have not eaten in a few days thinking there are people who for this is a normal thing, or the guy who buys a homeless man a hotdog at 7/11 risking not having enough gas to last the next few days. I simply want to stop caring. I just can't. :smallconfused:

I daydream of making a difference in this world cloak-and-mask style, but yet I hate humanity for all that has been done to me, or at least I want to...

Boy a conscious sucks.

KenderWizard
2011-02-24, 01:18 PM
It sounds like you're a naturally kind and helpful person, but you've been depleted by the people who thoughtlessly take advantage of that. And it's tempting to blame those people, and obviously they would have been better people to have stopped and thought about how you felt. But the only way a person can help others and continue to help others is to first help themselves. Not at the expense of others necessarily, but someone who gives constantly for nothing will end up feeling like they have given everything anyway and resenting those around them, while someone who takes the time to look after themselves will always have more to give and not suffer for it. Think of it like on an airplane: you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you help your children or anyone else, no matter how much you feel you should help them NOW, because if you pass out, you're no good to anyone.

I think if you take some time to replenish yourself, look after your needs and your wants, you'll find the balance to help others without running yourself to ground.

Trog
2011-02-24, 01:22 PM
Being 100% selfish might get you what you want in the short term. But if you ever want to have friends it's definitely not the way to go. The best way to have a friend is to be one, or so I hear. And friends will understand when you tell them no from time to time. And if they don't then you might want to reconsider who you are friends with.

Your conscious keeps you from doing things you'll regret, sure, but having it pipe up, as you said, whenever you pass a donation bin when you have little or nothing you can spare, is something you might want to work on.

Take care of your basic needs first and then, if you like, sit down and figure out a budget of how much you can afford to give to charity over the course of a month or a week or a year or whatever time period works well for you. That way when you make a donation when you have the cash it comes off of that amount and when you have given that much already and you are approached by another charity you know you can say no while still feeling good that you have already done your part for charitable organizations. :smallsmile:


And I still want a Trog snowglobe...
S-s-s-s-s-s-sstop Sh-sh-sh-shaking T-t-t-trog! (((((o.O)))) Gonna hurl.

Keveak
2011-02-24, 01:37 PM
Pika, I will say that reading that there are actually people who naturally are that selfless and helpful to others made me smile a bit inside.

Don't blame humanity, I did and that brought me naught but ridicule and loneliness, not selfish joy or happiness.

Trog and Kender are right, you should relax and try to find a balance instead of trying to become cold and uncaring, we already have too much of that in the world.

But as the Trog-globe shows, even a mass of coldness have some good in it if you are willing to sit down and look for it. :smallsmile:

There are bad people who have used your kindness, but you have that kindness and so have many more, just shake the globe and find them.

Cespenar
2011-02-24, 01:40 PM
But the thing is, for once I want to be the one to win at life at any cost.

What is "winning at life"? No, really, I'm curious.

Rettu Skcollob
2011-02-24, 01:59 PM
What is "winning at life"? No, really, I'm curious.

Once you reach max level, you stop leveling.


http://i85.servimg.com/u/f85/13/75/81/94/keanui10.jpg

valadil
2011-02-24, 02:07 PM
I incorporated a bit of selfishness back in college. It honestly made me a happier and more confident person, which in turn made me a lot more enjoyable to be around. Instead of being a miserable wretch, I'm someone people can enjoy being around.

Being supportive of others is good, but it can go too far. You have to build yourself up to be in a good position to help anyone else. Why do you think the airline safety messages tell you to put your own oxygen mask on before a child's? If you pass out before you've helped anyone, nobody lives. The kid next to you can go 15 seconds without air while you get yourself taken care of. Then go and help the kid. This level of selfishness will make your life better without really slowing down anyone else's (although you should be prepared to go too far a couple times while figuring out how much selfishness is okay.)

Keveak
2011-02-24, 02:16 PM
Once you reach max level, you stop leveling.


http://i85.servimg.com/u/f85/13/75/81/94/keanui10.jpg


Who are the middle two?

I feel I should know but I have no clue. :smallredface:

A bit off topic, I admit.

But I would like to use this to point out that "Winning" at life is indeed vague and I personally would consider drawing comics and watching Anime winning enough for me. Just find what you wnat to do and work for it and I'm sure you will find enough winning too. :smallsmile:

Fox Box Socks
2011-02-24, 02:16 PM
Sounds to me like your problem is less "I need to learn how to be more selfish" and more "I need to learn how not to be a sucker".

pendell
2011-02-24, 03:05 PM
But the thing is, for once I want to be the one to win at life at any cost. I am tired of caring so much about others. I do not want to be the guy who at Christmas times will put the last of his change in the Salvation Army red bucket when I have not eaten in a few days thinking there are people who for this is a normal thing, or the guy who buys a homeless man a hotdog at 7/11 risking not having enough gas to last the next few days. I simply want to stop caring. I just can't. :smallconfused:


My ethical teaching says "Let the man with two coats give to the one that has none."

If you read that closely, you will see some important corrollaries which most people don't mention.

Implication: If you have ONE coat, you should keep it for yourself.

If you have NO coat, you should be receiving a coat, not getting one!

To the virtue of Temperence previously mentioned, we must also add the virtue of Prudence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prudence), which essentially says "don't be stupid about ethics".

If you are giving away your gas money so another person can have a sandwich, you should not. Give away what you can spare , not what you really need.




Boy a conscious sucks.

Two corrections:

1) It's a "conscience". And the word "conscience" is important -- spell it out, and it is "con sciencia" -- "knowing with". It isn't a feeling in your belly or a twinge of guilt. It is the sum total of your reason and your emotions and your will working together with your ethical training to produce your beliefs about right and wrong.

What that means is that if your head is telling you one thing and your emotions another -- that's not your conscience. You don't have to be a slave to parental programming or societal conditioning. Your conscience is what *you*, personally, -- whole human, reason, emotions, and the rest of it -- believe is right and wrong.


2) I would suggest you consider the concept of Scrupulosity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrupulosity). It is a real mental illness and occurs when someone's right-and-wrong filter is set wayyy too high. It is a condition I suffer from (though I am not so diagnosed).

A conscience can malfunction either because it is set too low (ignoring evil actions) or too high (calling things wrong when they're not, such as holding on to your rent money when the charity people come begging).

Most popular teachers , pastors, rabbis, what not assume that 90%+ of their audience is in the first category, and constantly need their conscience pricked, setting their filter higher. HOWEVER, there is a minority of human beings who already have their filters set too high, and the major result of listening to those teachers is despair, self-hatred, anger , and eventual giving up.

I am in that second group. I suspect you are also.

Let me give an example.

When I was in college, I saw a beer can. So I picked it up and threw it away.

Next I saw a cigarrette butt, so I threw it away.

Then I saw another can , and I was getting tired of this, but I felt condemned -- I was willingly leaving something undone that needed to be done, therefore doing evil. The exact connotations of what that meant at that point in my life are outside forum rules, but I'm sure I don't have to draw a picture of what "willing, deliberate evil action" might mean to someone from a particular background.

After about three days my car trunk was full of garbage I'd picked up ... it turns out there's a lot of trash on a college campus if you actually look for it! And I saw yet another broken bottle. But I said "Enough. I have better things to do with my life than pick up other people's trash."

And I walked away.

It was the hardest thing I had ever done, and every step felt like the weight of damnation for evil action was weighing down on my shoulders, but I still had to do it. I was -- as some people put it -- "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel". Litter on the side of the road is not the greatest problem in the world, and I had obligations of my own to attend to.

This has been an issue I have been fighting all my life.

Does that sound like you?

If it does ... then this is the way I see it. Your conscience is malfunctioning. It isn't that it's wrong to have a conscience, or want to be charitable, or to be unselfish, but your view of such things is cranked up to 11, way out of spec, and the result is that you're hurting yourself. Which will only make you ineffective at any legitimate charity you might wish to do!

Reprogramming the conscience is no easy thing. Moral teachers and counselors have been of very little help to me because their constant impetus and push is *all the other way*, making my situation worse instead of better. So I've had to mostly go it alone. I would urge you NOT to, if you can find friends who can help you walk this path. But even going it alone is better than walking the road you're describing.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Rettu Skcollob
2011-02-24, 03:16 PM
Who are the middle two?

I feel I should know but I have no clue. :smallredface:

A bit off topic, I admit.

But I would like to use this to point out that "Winning" at life is indeed vague and I personally would consider drawing comics and watching Anime winning enough for me. Just find what you wnat to do and work for it and I'm sure you will find enough winning too. :smallsmile:

Paul Mounet, a nineteenth-twentieth century French actor. Here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEubt6HpGhs) is the joke.

But yeah, slightly off topic. Everyone else has said more or less what needs to be said here though. Suffice to say, don't be a martyr or a demon; everything in moderation.

Jimor
2011-02-24, 03:16 PM
Being too helpful and caring is a quite common form of self-destructive behavior. It's either using giving as an excuse for not taking care of yourself, or the giving becomes a way of trying to force other people to be in debt or to think you're a wonderful person.

I have an ex-friend who fell into the latter category. She always "sacrificed" to help others, but in reality she was one of the most selfish people I've even known, because it was all about having power over other people. I don't think control is your motivation, but if you're doing it because you think it will make people like you, then you're doing it for entirely the wrong reasons.

Your other problem is this apparent need to go from one extreme to the other, and is just another indication of a self-destructive personality. You don't want to take responsibility for your everyday actions and decisions, so you take an extreme path where the choices are pre-programmed by the extreme. Instead of taking the time and effort to weigh each point individually then making a decision, you get to foist the blame for the inevitably negative consequences on this impersonal philosophy of life.

It's frankly time to grow up and learn what it means to be an adult, not wallow in self-pity because you couldn't make people act the way you wanted by being "nice".

I'm being harsh, but the very premise of your OP is predicated on continuing to fail, so I don't feel this is entirely unwarranted.

Themrys
2011-02-24, 04:43 PM
The short of it is for a while now people have endlessly been taking advantage of me due to my kindness and softness. The last few months really putting the point across that if a@@holes always win, then I need to get colder and more selfish.

It's time for some serious ME focusing, and if that means I have to care a LOT less about others and their well-being, I think that is OK. I am just so sick of it.


Have anyone of you been in this crossroads in life?

I have a similar problem; I try not to harm others (emotionally). This causes some problems for me other people never have. However, I have decided not to change too much, since I want to be a person I can like. And I just don't like people who hurt others because it is easier for themselves.

However, since you seem to actively do too much for others...just look who takes advantage of you and who only asks for help when they really need it and also do something for you if they can.
And then quit helping those who don't deserve your help.

factotum
2011-02-24, 05:24 PM
But the thing is, for once I want to be the one to win at life at any cost. I am tired of caring so much about others. I do not want to be the guy who at Christmas times will put the last of his change in the Salvation Army red bucket when I have not eaten in a few days thinking there are people who for this is a normal thing, or the guy who buys a homeless man a hotdog at 7/11 risking not having enough gas to last the next few days. I simply want to stop caring. I just can't. :smallconfused:


I'm a bit puzzled here. One does not have to want to "win at any cost" to decide that it's better that YOU eat than someone else...to my mind that's simple common sense. Instead of giving the money you need to eat to the Salvation Army, why don't you volunteer to help out in some way? That would salve your conscience while still allowing you to keep eating!

Cardea
2011-02-24, 05:26 PM
The short of it is for a while now people have endlessly been taking advantage of me due to my kindness and softness. The last few months really putting the point across that if a@@holes always win, then I need to get colder and more selfish.

It's time for some serious ME focusing, and if that means I have to care a LOT less about others and their well-being, I think that is OK. I am just so sick of it.

Have anyone of you been in this crossroads in life?

But the thing is, for once I want to be the one to win at life at any cost. I am tired of caring so much about others. I do not want to be the guy who at Christmas times will put the last of his change in the Salvation Army red bucket when I have not eaten in a few days thinking there are people who for this is a normal thing, or the guy who buys a homeless man a hotdog at 7/11 risking not having enough gas to last the next few days. I simply want to stop caring. I just can't. :smallconfused:

I daydream of making a difference in this world cloak-and-mask style, but yet I hate humanity for all that has been done to me, or at least I want to...

Boy a conscious sucks.


Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
You honestly sound like you're worrying about things that are years in the future from where you are currently. And you sound like you're still in High School, where nothing will really matter years from now. Sorry if I'm off the mark here, but that's what it sounds like.

You need not become cold or selfish to win. You need not stop caring for others to win.

If you want to focus on yourself, go learn. Go work out. Be more comfortable with yourself. Clean yourself up, if need be. Become someone they're afraid to take advantage of. Become someone they're afraid to ask for help, if it means that you're the person they'd wrong.

If they are taking advantage of you, make them regret it. If people use you as a stepping stone to get what they want, make your step the one they are afraid to take. You need not lash out at the world, and you do not need to shut it out from you, in order to win. Just be better than who they think they are. Become someone people can look up to. Become someone people admire.

It's easy to take the short cuts in life; to take advantage of others, to not be kind.

You are taking the hard route by being kind, and being someone one can rely on, whether or not they take advantage of you. You have the gift of kindness; do not throw it away, please, if you wish to make a difference in the world.

TheArsenal
2011-02-24, 05:30 PM
Im kind. But I can be intimidating if I want to be. I just act nice but not too nice. Becoming Scroog is generaly not a good idea.

Delwugor
2011-02-24, 05:30 PM
As long as you're doing it to improve yourself all is good. But things can go wrong very quickly if it is done to compete against others.

VeisuItaTyhjyys
2011-02-24, 05:59 PM
I suppose not there isn't, in short, if that's what you want; my personal ethic involves accepting and even embracing that others will "take advantage" of me, and being happy that they're happy. Giving someone advantage removes his or her ability to take it, so, after a fashion, it's the most indefatigable form of resistance, and the most mutually beneficial. If this isn't the way you'd like to do things, though, it's always important for one to find one's own path and whatnot.

Wanting to be "dark" and "edgy," though, which is often (although not always) a related pursuit is a trite and self-defeating endeavour which is, contrary to Veisu-when-he-was-thirteen's views on the matter, best to be avoided. To phrase it more seriously, if you want others to perceive you as "cold" rather than want to be cold, it probably is a bad idea to try. Not that there is something wrong with it (well, aside from my earlier aesthetic objection :smallwink:), but because, for the most part, it's very easy to see through and won't really work very well at all. EDIT: Not saying that this is the case, just hypothetically stating my opinion if it were.

Cerlis
2011-02-24, 06:10 PM
there is amiddle ground between selfish and compassionate.

Just cus you are caring and good doesnt mean you cant look out for yourself.

just cus you protect yourself doesnt mean you have to become selfish and cold hearted.

I think maybe the issue is that you trust and give of yourself for people who dont deserve it. I havent had this issue cus i avoid, or at least dont seek out people who arent inherintly good. while i notice everyone else tends to get in relationships with people who dont care about them, or at least do so on a minimum level. for example, people often whore themselves out to family because of some percieved bond. While i believe this should only be done they havent given you reason not to like them, or if they have proven themselves as a friend and loved one.

I think a good phrase from the philosophy in which i speak is. "Im sorry, i love you, but i cant deal with this right now. please go"

essentially its a matter of not being Stupid good, or lawful selfish. its a matter of being Willfully Smart.

Dvandemon
2011-02-24, 06:12 PM
I've had experience with this sort of thing but I moved past it by delving into my interests and studies (partially about philosophy so I could try to get over it). I do have scruples but I compensate by trying to better myself in various areas.
Paul Mounet, a nineteenth-twentieth century French actor. Here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEubt6HpGhs) is the joke.

But yeah, slightly off topic. Everyone else has said more or less what needs to be said here though. Suffice to say, don't be a martyr or a demon; everything in moderation.

Moderation in omnibus rebus :smallbiggrin:

VarenTai
2011-02-25, 04:14 PM
Being too soft and being too hard (or cold) are simply two sides of the same coin - in neither case are you truly open to the humanity of those around you and your own humanity. When you are taken advantage of, you are allowing others to be more important than you are, but going the other way (hardening towards others) tries to over compensate by doing the opposite. However, both of them have the same basic foundation.

As you become open to the basic humanity of those around you, no matter whether they have wronged you or not, you may also become aware of your own humanity. Fact being that those who are seeing others as people get no mileage out of being walked all over by them, and so they don't allow it to happen. But they do so in a way that invites others to respect them back.

People like Viktor Frankl, who were Nazi concentration camp survivors, went through more than just being walked all over for being too kind, and they were able to love their captors and keep themselves open, grateful, wise, gracious beings. It can be done!

If you are a reader, I would *strongly* recommend two books - Leadership & Self-Deception, and The Anatomy of Peace, by the Arbinger Institute. It sounds as though you are in a place where you could benefit by reading them.

CrimsonAngel
2011-02-25, 04:15 PM
Spend the evening with me or my mom. My mom hates everybody. I also hate everybody, but I also don't trust anybody and am offputting.

Haruki-kun
2011-02-25, 04:38 PM
There are some people that you can let take advantage of you: those are the people who won't take advantage of you. Anyone who would take advantage of you should not be allowed to.

What I'm trying to say is... don't be cold or selfish, be assertive. Stand your ground. Let people walk into your ground, but don't let them deface it or walk on top of you. And do the same for them.

Also:


*snip*

This. This is a good post.

Keld Denar
2011-02-25, 04:46 PM
I know people don't like them due to their preachyness, but the Sword of Truth series kinda touches on this concept. Basically, your life is your own. You should let people into your life as you are able and as you learn to trust them. Nobody, however, has the right to come into your life and make demands of you. Thus if you give of yourself, it should be because you love and care for the people/causes you give to. You should never give of yourself because you have to, or feel you have to, as this is similar to taking from you without your permission.

Basically, be open and selfless for the people who you care about, the people who have earned it or deserve it, but always be wary of those who would take advantage of your kindness and use it against you.

Or at least thats what I got out of it...especially from Faith of the Fallen, my personal favorite book of the series (and apparently everyone else's least favorite).

VarenTai
2011-02-25, 05:00 PM
Basically, be open and selfless for the people who you care about, the people who have earned it or deserve it, but always be wary of those who would take advantage of your kindness and use it against you.

I fundamentally disagree.

It is EASY to love and trust those that love and trust you, those who have "earned" it. It is when you see everyone you interact with using eyes of true compassion that you see the good in those that have their best parts hidden.

This is not an argument to be a doormat.

You can fire someone while seeing them as a person.

You can decide to end a relationship while seeing them as a person.

You can forcibly commit someone to rehab while seeing them as a person.

All the hard and difficult things in life are best done (indeed, it could be argued it is the *only* way to do them) while being open to the humanity of others.

By so doing, you invite the best in them.

A true story: In high school, a young lady was beautiful, popular, and the head cheerleader. She met a guy, liked him, and decided that he was the one she was going to marry, so she did. And then for the next 8-9 YEARS, she left every night to party with her friends. He cleaned, cooked, took care of the kids, worked full time, and basically did everything that she refused to do.

His family told him that she was taking advantage of him and that he should leave her, but he replied that he truly loved her, and he didn't mind serving her.

After 8-9 years, she came home one night, announced that she was bored with partying, so for the next 2-3 years, she sat around while he continued doing the same things as before.

He had a heart of love towards her, and continued to serve her. Being human, I can't imagine that he never once felt frustration, hurt, or anger at her behavior, but if they had ruled his heart, then what happened next could not have happened.

After a few years, she finally woke up, and saw him for who he was - the ONLY person in her whole life that truly, honestly loved her. Everyone else said they did, but took off when it got tough, but he was there, even when she did not treat him well. He won her heart, and she changed forever. Now, everyone who knows them is amazed at the strength, quality, and depth of their relationship.

This could not have happened if he was wary of her taking advantage of him.

Here is the truth of life - we are all human, and we can love and be loved without being weak. This husband was strong, not weak. He won her with his love, even when she was actually taking advantage of him, but it didn't feel like she was taking advantage of him to him.

Crow
2011-02-25, 05:43 PM
Take care of yourself first.

This isn't the same as being selfish. Sadly, most of the people out there looking for handouts don't reallly *need* them. Don't give a handouts to people who haven't exhausted all other (legal) options. Giving a bum a hotdog at the expense of your gas (arguably, the bum gets a hotdog *and* gas now <rimshot!>), ultimately doesn't serve either of you. The bum now has a full belly, and is now no closer to deciding to clean himself up and get a job, and you now run the risk of running out of gas on the way to work or school. Your act of charity has made one person's position no better than it was before, and your own position even worse!

It doesn't end there. you may have now encouraged the bum's previous behavior, and the next time he sees you he may try to hit you up for another hotdog. It doesn't take much to liken this bum to any number of people in your life who may attempt to take advantage of you. Sometimes it's even a family member!

pendell
2011-02-25, 06:05 PM
It is EASY to love and trust those that love and trust you, those who have "earned" it. It is when you see everyone you interact with using eyes of true compassion that you see the good in those that have their best parts hidden.

This is not an argument to be a doormat.

You can fire someone while seeing them as a person.

You can decide to end a relationship while seeing them as a person.

You can forcibly commit someone to rehab while seeing them as a person.

All the hard and difficult things in life are best done (indeed, it could be argued it is the *only* way to do them) while being open to the humanity of others.



I agree with everything you say here.

I fundamentally disagree with your example. I've been married for 17 years and I've seen a *lot* of relationships.

I saw a relationship very much like the one you described, where one party gave and gave and gave selflessly.

The other party did not get better. The other party got worse and worse.

Nonetheless, the first person kept trying to "stiff upper lip" it and do what you suggested -- win the person over with love -- but the person only got more and more selfish.

Finally, when the second person started threatening the children in the relationship, party A said "enough".

There followed a very tense couple of weeks.

There followed some very tense counseling sessions.

There followed a strict set of guidelines and accountability.

And the relationship was saved.

Nor is that the only relationship of this type I've seen.

My experience is this: 9 times out of ten it is better to set standards, make your boundaries known, and to lovingly but firmly defend them when they are violated. As a rule, people who have a tendency to be selfish will appreciate those firm boundaries, because it helps them to be more respectful of the other people in the relationships, not less.

That doesn't mean smacking the person down for every tiny thing. This, as so much else in life, has to be seasoned with a certain amount of patience and trust.

It's a delicate balance. You can't be swift to attack but not a doormat either. Know what truly is worth fighting over and what is not.

I'm glad the situation you describe worked out. But I've seen a lot more situations where people tried that and it did NOT. There are people in the world it works on, I guess, but if they're not the right sort of person it'll just make things worse.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Keveak
2011-02-25, 06:36 PM
I fundamentally disagree.

It is EASY to love and trust those that love and trust you, those who have "earned" it. It is when you see everyone you interact with using eyes of true compassion that you see the good in those that have their best parts hidden.

This is not an argument to be a doormat.

You can fire someone while seeing them as a person.

You can decide to end a relationship while seeing them as a person.

You can forcibly commit someone to rehab while seeing them as a person.

All the hard and difficult things in life are best done (indeed, it could be argued it is the *only* way to do them) while being open to the humanity of others.

By so doing, you invite the best in them.

A true story: In high school, a young lady was beautiful, popular, and the head cheerleader. She met a guy, liked him, and decided that he was the one she was going to marry, so she did. And then for the next 8-9 YEARS, she left every night to party with her friends. He cleaned, cooked, took care of the kids, worked full time, and basically did everything that she refused to do.

His family told him that she was taking advantage of him and that he should leave her, but he replied that he truly loved her, and he didn't mind serving her.

After 8-9 years, she came home one night, announced that she was bored with partying, so for the next 2-3 years, she sat around while he continued doing the same things as before.

He had a heart of love towards her, and continued to serve her. Being human, I can't imagine that he never once felt frustration, hurt, or anger at her behavior, but if they had ruled his heart, then what happened next could not have happened.

After a few years, she finally woke up, and saw him for who he was - the ONLY person in her whole life that truly, honestly loved her. Everyone else said they did, but took off when it got tough, but he was there, even when she did not treat him well. He won her heart, and she changed forever. Now, everyone who knows them is amazed at the strength, quality, and depth of their relationship.

This could not have happened if he was wary of her taking advantage of him.

Here is the truth of life - we are all human, and we can love and be loved without being weak. This husband was strong, not weak. He won her with his love, even when she was actually taking advantage of him, but it didn't feel like she was taking advantage of him to him.

That's a beautiful story and I will argue that I think you are right in saying that we should show kindness when we can.

But I thought the issue was being used as a doormat, that the problem was that some people used those who are that nice more than they can afford, mentally or economically.

Or are you saying we should be kind but still be able to say no? That I can agree with, sometimes it is the kindest thing to do to force someone to rehab.

PS: If I sound confused that may be because I read the post wrong ad it's past midnight here, I apologise. :smallsmile:

tomandtish
2011-02-25, 07:26 PM
The short of it is for a while now people have endlessly been taking advantage of me due to my kindness and softness. The last few months really putting the point across that if a@@holes always win, then I need to get colder and more selfish.

It's time for some serious ME focusing, and if that means I have to care a LOT less about others and their well-being, I think that is OK. I am just so sick of it.


Have anyone of you been in this crossroads in life?

Is it wrong to want to be more selfish? Depends. A better question is: Are the changes you are considering actually going to make you more selfish?

From Meriam-Webster:

1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.


(Emphasis provided by me).


In short, it’s not being selfish to make changes in order to take care of yourself and your health, and to stop people who are taking advantage of you.

Case in point: My official position is an intake worker for a state call center. However, because of some other skills I have, I’m often asked to handle various projects, especially those with technical or statistical components. I didn’t mind this at first, and I enjoy doing it. These projects are outside normal duties, and I’m one of the only ones out of 300+ intake workers given these duties.

However, the projects kept piling up, and one day l came in and saw 3 new projects in my box, including one from the head of the center with a deadline that would have forced me to cancel my upcoming vacation (for my wedding anniversary). All three projects had timelines for a list of tasks. I had not heard of any of the projects prior to seeing these e-mails. 2 of the projects also conflicted with each other (no way I could have worked on both).

Note: For hierarchy purposes, I report to a supervisor, who reports to their supervisor, who reports to the head of the call center. He reports to the head of the state agency, who reports to the governor.

I went to the head of the center (let’s call him John), sat down and asked him what my job was. When he asked what I meant, I pulled out my time sheets for the last 6 months, pointed out that I had averaged 300 hours a month during that time, and that I was being scheduled for tasks without anyone even bothering to check my schedule or ask if I was available.

We talked for a while, and I explained that I could not keep working 300 hours a month. I need to be able to spend time with my wife occasionally. He responded that they gave me the projects because I was the only one who could do it (at the risk of sounding conceited this is somewhat true. Others can do it but I am probably the best one there).

Anyway, after more discussion, we agreed on the following: I would not be assigned more than one project a time unless I agreed to it. I could say “No” at any time (I am a volunteer when it comes to projects), and I do not work over 40 hours unless I choose to do so. We shortened my phone time to compensate.

In short, because I decided to engage in a little self-interest (not the same as selfishness), I was able to improve my work situation so I didn’t have to either kill myself or quit because of an impossible workload. I would argue that my actions were not selfish at all. They were necessary for my own well-being.

Incidentally, I should clarify that John is actually a great boss. He does care about his staff, listens to them, and is willing to accept the advice of someone who is more knowledgable than he is in a particular area. As a bonus, he came up the other day and informed me that he had gotten permission to create a projects position that I will be moving into in a few weeks. Therefore all the project work that I do as extra work now will become my official job.

Moff Chumley
2011-02-25, 07:32 PM
Agreed. If you can /handle/ being in that kind of relationship, if being with that person makes you happy regardless, not in spite of, their behavior, than there's nothing wrong with being that selfless. However, I don't think I'm a strong enough person to pull that off, at least at this point.

gooddragon1
2011-02-25, 07:32 PM
The short of it is for a while now people have endlessly been taking advantage of me due to my kindness and softness. The last few months really putting the point across that if a@@holes always win, then I need to get colder and more selfish.

It's time for some serious ME focusing, and if that means I have to care a LOT less about others and their well-being, I think that is OK. I am just so sick of it.


Have anyone of you been in this crossroads in life?

I'm at it, however I'm too much of a coward/nice guy to do it. My younger brother does this, but it just feels wrong. I just don't have it in me to be evil. It's why I play on my computer and sleep a lot rather than living. Something like alcohol except without the alcohol.

The Antagonist
2011-02-25, 10:04 PM
Going back to the original statement, I am the same way, and, no, I don’t believe it is wrong to want to be more selfless, though I personally find it near impossible to change from selfless to a state of being able to care for oneself above others.

The one example I can think of now is my recently-ended relationship. I had begun to dedicate all of my time, thoughts, and energy into making this boy happy, or trying to, because it truly did make me happy. I finally thought I had found my true purpose in life – to be his, forever. Though, it seems now, that he never saw my self-sacrifice, and ignored it, or used it against me. Because of this tendency of mine to devote all of myself to him, when he left me, I was completely, completely lost. And after the breakup, I had so many needs of my own that I could, in fact, recognize needed to be filled, but my nature forced me to also see his needs, and put them before mine. After far too long of torturing myself and ignoring myself to help him, I finally tried to take a stand one night and demand something to help me from him – a simple conversation to settle some issues. It’s all I asked for, and what did I get? I got called a selfish little child. It hurt so, so incredibly much, and didn’t at all help my sense of I Need To Ignore Myself. Because, it seemed to me, it just proved that when I care for myself over others, I get completely ruined in the end.

I still am in this state where I cannot bring myself to demand anything of this boy, though I know, somehow, that I need to stop being so selfless and stop giving him what he feels he needs, if, in fact, by doing so, I continue torturing myself this much in the process. I know I need to make a stand for myself, but I can’t without immediately feeling, yes, like a selfish little child. It’s just this horrible impasse.

Now, in response to VarenTai’s beautiful love story… er, well, *pokes above*

The downside is, even when you do dedicate yourself to someone, and even enjoy it, sometimes they don’t see the light in the end. Your story went, “After a few years, she finally woke up, and saw him for who he was - the ONLY person in her whole life that truly, honestly loved her.” Yeah, well, sometimes they don’t wake up. And that’s the problem. Sometimes they get bored with or tired of being waited on, or feel they don't need that love, or feel they can't mentally or emotionally handle that sort of relationship, or, in some cases, start feeling completely guilty for being waited on hand and foot without giving their love something in return, and then they leave. Then what does our dedicated husband/wife/lover do? Maybe I’m just being cynical, but, I think that being wary is a good idea, in most cases. I know from personal experience that if I had been wary of being taken advantage of – of being too selfless and too focused on using my lover as a reason to live rather than finding my own reasons to live within myself – I wouldn’t have felt so much heartache and devastation in the end of my relationship. But, I don’t really know.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I truly believe that selflessness towards a lover – or, actually, general friendships or any sort of relation to others – is unhealthy, in many ways, but mainly because of this: selflessness like that tends to evolve into – or, even in the beginning, already is – a form of unhealthy obsessive devotion, to the point that the person who is dedicating themselves to their lover/friend has absolutely nothing within themselves they feel they can live for. Selflessness for a lover/friend often becomes a need for that lover/friend, where that lover/friend becomes one’s entire galaxy, and without them, the person dedicating their everything to that person is lost. So, especially in cases of romance, one should always consider themselves, (as well as the other person(s) in the situation, but never less than them,) because nothing is ever set in stone.

Alright, I'm done ranting now. I'll go back into my little corner. :smallfrown:

pendell
2011-02-26, 09:44 AM
Selflessness for a lover/friend often becomes a need for that lover/friend, where that lover/friend becomes one’s entire galaxy, and without them, the person dedicating their everything to that person is lost.


I was in a relationship like that once .. as the guy whom the girl made her entire galaxy.

I didn't like it either. I felt like she was asking me to meet her emotional needs -- her need to care for someone else, her need to love someone else , her need to care for others -- she expected me to be all things to her. I felt like I was being asked to fill the void that friends, family, and colleagues are supposed to fill. Instead of a community, there was just me.

It was an unhealthy relationship. It wasn't healthy for her, because she had made me the center of her universe, and that's not good. I'm a human being, not a god. I can't be that person she was looking for. She was asking me to fulfill a role in her life -- her sun, her galaxy -- that no human could possibly fulfill.

It wasn't healthy for her and it wasn't healthy for me. So we adjusted the relationship, and things got better -- one better calibrated to meeting each others' needs. She also found other people to be friends with, and stopped expecting me to be the be-all and end-all of her world.

That relationship was MUCH better after that.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

grimbold
2011-02-26, 09:55 AM
this is a problem i too face
as the nerdy kid people cheat off of me all the time at school
i try to be nice but it is hard to be both firm and nice

Ravens_cry
2011-02-26, 09:59 AM
I think its rather sad more then wrong. I mean, you have to be at least a little selfish just to survive, every bite you eat could have been eaten by another, not to mention something had to die for you to eat at all, every drink could be drunk by another every breath you take could have been breathed by another, and so forth.
But living all cold and cynical just sounds lonely to me. It is a cold bitter world, but just going along with that isn't going to make it any better. And you can make it better. People will take advantage of this. But you know what, to hell with them, they don't control who you are.

Asta Kask
2011-02-26, 01:43 PM
You might want to study this. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicomachean_Ethics)

No, it is not wrong. There is a middle ground, a Golden Mean between compassion and ruthlessness. The trick is to find that mean, gravitate towards it and stay there. :smallsmile:

VarenTai
2011-02-26, 01:48 PM
I fundamentally disagree with your example. I've been married for 17 years and I've seen a *lot* of relationships.

I saw a relationship very much like the one you described, where one party gave and gave and gave selflessly.

The other party did not get better. The other party got worse and worse.

Nonetheless, the first person kept trying to "stiff upper lip" it and do what you suggested -- win the person over with love -- but the person only got more and more selfish.

Finally, when the second person started threatening the children in the relationship, party A said "enough".


That's a beautiful story and I will argue that I think you are right in saying that we should show kindness when we can.

But I thought the issue was being used as a doormat, that the problem was that some people used those who are that nice more than they can afford, mentally or economically.

Or are you saying we should be kind but still be able to say no? That I can agree with, sometimes it is the kindest thing to do to force someone to rehab.

PS: If I sound confused that may be because I read the post wrong ad it's past midnight here, I apologise.


Now, in response to VarenTai’s beautiful love story… er, well, *pokes above*

The downside is, even when you do dedicate yourself to someone, and even enjoy it, sometimes they don’t see the light in the end. Your story went, “After a few years, she finally woke up, and saw him for who he was - the ONLY person in her whole life that truly, honestly loved her.” Yeah, well, sometimes they don’t wake up.

These are all good points. I should say that I was running out of work to go on a belated Valentine's Day date with my wife (yeah, I know, it was over a week ago, but there was... you know... STUFF going on at the time), so I didn't get to finish my post like I would have preferred.

SO, let me qualify my story. I in no way am saying this is a one-size-fits-all story. Let me tell you a couple of more stories:

A husband and wife (my wife and I knew her but not him) were struggling - he had recently come forward admitting to a serious pornography addiction, and they had decided to work it out. She stayed with him, loved him, etc, but he just wasn't moving forward. As she pondered it, knowing that she really did love him and want things to work out, it came to her that the best thing she could do FOR HIM was to leave him. And so she told him that she loved him, but she was divorcing him. She would stay in his life as a friend, but he was not allowed to date her until he had his life taken care of.

We met her while they were still separated. She was strong, happy, and devoted to him as much as possible, within the framework of being divorced. Last I heard, he did indeed finally get his life together (it took her leaving him to light a fire under his butt), and they have remarried, happily.

Another couple struggled with various problems, and they came into therapy, both talking freely and openly about the issues facing them and being willing to work them out. While there was frustration and anger, they were both willing to do painful work on themselves in order to keep their marriage together. They worked it out, and they are happily married now.

Tie these three stories together, and you will see that I am not proposing one particular solution, one pattern of behavior. No, what the TRUE solution was ran deeper than behavior - it had to do with seeing the other person as a person rather than an object.

Now, that's a relatively complicated topic, so suffice to say, when you see someone as an object, you treat them as though they are a tool or vehicle for your use, an obstacle (even to say, "We could be happy together if you would just change!"), or irrelevant.

In my first story, the husband perceived that the best thing for his wife was to stay with her, and he was never a doormat because being a doormat has to do with the person being walked on, not the person doing the walking on.

If I truly care about someone and love them, then even when they take me for granted, I can still be doing the service regardless of how they treat it. It may be the right thing to stop serving them at some point, not because I "need to protect myself", because if I am TRULY serving, I am already protected, but because it would serve them better for me to cease doing the kind things I have hitherto done.

But every person, every situation is different. It's a good indication that if you feel trampled on by someone else, you are not seeing them as a person, nor are you seeing yourself as a person. It is impossible to grasp the infinite value of another without grasping your own, PERIOD. And if you feel walked all over, it is because you do not grasp your own value, nor do you grasp theirs.

Does that explain it better?

There is no Golden Mean, there is no "middle ground". All of those philosophies are based in behavior, but what I am saying is deeper than that - it has to do with your basic way of being towards another, and there is NO MIDDLE GROUND. You see them as a person or you see them as an object.

The Antagonist
2011-02-26, 03:54 PM
I was in a relationship like that once .. as the guy whom the girl made her entire galaxy.

I didn't like it either. I felt like she was asking me to meet her emotional needs -- her need to care for someone else, her need to love someone else , her need to care for others -- she expected me to be all things to her. I felt like I was being asked to fill the void that friends, family, and colleagues are supposed to fill. Instead of a community, there was just me.

It was an unhealthy relationship. It wasn't healthy for her, because she had made me the center of her universe, and that's not good. I'm a human being, not a god. I can't be that person she was looking for. She was asking me to fulfill a role in her life -- her sun, her galaxy -- that no human could possibly fulfill.

It wasn't healthy for her and it wasn't healthy for me. So we adjusted the relationship, and things got better -- one better calibrated to meeting each others' needs. She also found other people to be friends with, and stopped expecting me to be the be-all and end-all of her world.

That relationship was MUCH better after that.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

That's exactly why my relationship didn't work. I rested too much on him, and he bloody couldn't take it any more. Again, this is why I’m saying the selflessness, especially to that extent, is just a bad, bad idea.


If I truly care about someone and love them, then even when they take me for granted, I can still be doing the service regardless of how they treat it. It may be the right thing to stop serving them at some point, not because I "need to protect myself", because if I am TRULY serving, I am already protected, but because it would serve them better for me to cease doing the kind things I have hitherto done.

I kinda understand what you’re saying, though I’m not sure if we’re thinking of the same thing. My point is, to an extent, serving becomes… overwhelming… Like what Pendell was saying. The service becomes a need, and that need can drive the other person completely insane! But also, it is totally unsafe for the person doing the service, because they have nothing to live for but the one they are devoted to. It’s those cases that I’m saying there needs to be some sort of middle. There needs to be a healthy exchange of devotion, and a healthy amount of love for oneself as well as the other, which is where the selflessness and selfishness come in. They need to mix correctly. Which leads me to te next point…


There is no Golden Mean, there is no "middle ground". All of those philosophies are based in behavior, but what I am saying is deeper than that - it has to do with your basic way of being towards another, and there is NO MIDDLE GROUND. You see them as a person or you see them as an object.

There needs to be middle ground. It does exist. There’s a middle ground within each individual – between their self-respect, and with their respect of the other who is involved – and the middle ground that is the exchange between the devotion and the love for the other person, and how much they can handle. One needs to be able to love themself and care for themself and not just rely on the one their devoted to to do it for them. “…because if I am TRULY serving, I am already protected…” is a lie. Just because you are truly serving does not mean you are truly protected. If you are truly, 110% serving, you have nothing but that person you’re serving to live for. And what happens if they leave? Everything shatters. This is why there needs to be – yes, like I said – a middle ground, where everything is at equilibrium; where the love for oneself and the other, and respect for oneself and the other, can blend. As for the whole seeing someone as a person versus seeing them as an object thing, well, that is definite. You either do or you don’t. But if someone is seeing the other as an object, again, then serving them completely is just destined to end in pure tragedy. Once again, this is why there needs to be mental and emotional middle ground.


But every person, every situation is different. It's a good indication that if you feel trampled on by someone else, you are not seeing them as a person, nor are you seeing yourself as a person. It is impossible to grasp the infinite value of another without grasping your own, PERIOD. And if you feel walked all over, it is because you do not grasp your own value, nor do you grasp theirs.

Feeling trampled on, in absolutely no way, is indication of seeing the other as not a person. People trample people. Objects don’t. Also, the problem, to me, it seems, is not the inability to grasp their value at all. It is just inability to grasp your own value. One tends to demean themselves and put their lover in the highest position of worship, because they see them as the most pure form of beauty there is, but see themselves as just nothing. This is where the original topic of selflessness comes in. One needs to be able to love themselves – like you said – as well as the other. The problem is not an inability to grasp both you and your love’s value, but the inability to grasp one value: your own. One needs to be able to provide for themself, and not just expect their lover – the one they are devoted to and selfless toward – to do it for them. Otherwise everything just falls apart, because the devoted one will eventually start to feel trampled on for recieving nothing (unless they do have absolutely no sense of self-respect and have that state of mind of "I'm so worthless, I don't deserve anything from this beautiful, perfect human being in return anyway"). It doesn't mean they don't see their lover as a person, it just means they feel cheated, in a way. Or it falls apart because, though they may stay completely devoted, the one they're devoted to may just grow tired of it and leave.

Trog
2011-02-26, 05:33 PM
You know it's funny, this thread actually made me make sure that I was very much less so (less cold and selfish, that is) in the last 24 hours.

I had seen a status update from the fiancee of one of my best friends that he was on a restricted diet of... well... mush, basically, because he had just went in and had a ton of teeth pulled. He's going to be getting dentures or something I think. And while this is his own fault for not caring for his teeth and all I still felt for the guy.

Anyway his fiancee was asking for recipes to make him because she was rapidly running out of ideas. So I went grocery shopping after work and picked up a bunch of ingredients for my white turkey chili recipe and made them a huge pot of that and brought it over.

Then later that evening when a different friend and I went out for drinks I gave them a ride home because they were rather inebriated. Heh.

Then today I've been extra sure to be polite to people and to smile at them and the reactions have been very positive from old coworkers I ran into at the book store to a very pretty cashier who didn't smile for anyone but for me in her long line. It made me happy that something so simple as a pleasant demeanor could brighten people's day.

And then I also gave a sincere compliment to a fellow forumite today who deserved to hear one I think and that brightened her day. I've just been riding the wave of this happy positive attitude towards others and it has been great.

So while it might be good to look out for number one now and then (like my small purchase for myself today and my nap this afternoon. Mmm... nap), doing the opposite can reap you rewards as well. :smallsmile:

VarenTai
2011-02-26, 05:48 PM
There needs to be middle ground. It does exist.

Here's where language falls down. When I speak of seeing people as people vs seeing them as objects, I am speaking of a very specific definition as laid out in the books I mentioned earlier. Lacking that common definition, you are left to try and interpret what I mean from your own idea of what they mean, and then we start to cross wires.

If you understood what I meant, you would know what I mean when I say there is no middle ground, and what I meant when I said that by definition, if we are feeling trampled, we are not seeing them or ourselves as people.

In your world and definition, yes, you are correct. But how I mean them, no, absolutely not, There's something deeper going on there.

I only get bits and pieces of time to post up (this weekend has been a bit of an anomaly for me), so I don't have the ability to write up definitions, at least not right now. I'll try to get to it, but that seems to be my response for a lot of writing that is hanging over my head. :)

I know the odds of you (or anyone else, for that matter) taking my advice and actually purchasing/reading the books I recommended earlier are slim to none, and that's fine. I'm a complete stranger, and there's always a book that someone says is totally amazing. None of us have the time to actually READ all those books.

But let me say this - as a counselor, I make all my clients read these books. They have helped rape victims, sex offenders, marriages in trouble, rebellious kids, struggling parents, etc. I have NEVER found another set of principles regarding human behavior to be so applicable to every relationship on such a deep level. In fact, I am in process of teaching them at my day job (training developer at Accenture), and it is revolutionizing how things are being done, because they even apply in business relationships.

Just... just... go read 'em. They're short, they read like a story, and they will change your life, not to mention giving you a common frame of reference whereby we can actually discuss these very profoundly important things in our lives. :)

Or not, and that's OK, too. These conversations are fun, and it's good for me to try and put into words these things I believe in so that others understand where I am coming from!

Alright, I gotta get back to my family! TTFN!

Morph Bark
2011-02-26, 05:54 PM
You don't need to be cold to be selfish, remember that. :smallwink:

I tend to act either warm or ignorant, rather than cold (which is only really when I get pissed off), but won't be so quick to offer a helping hand at all times. Likewise I also try to not be too fast with asking help myself, unless it concerns very important things.

The Antagonist
2011-02-26, 06:21 PM
Well, VarenTai, I'll be sure to check out the books, because I am curious to know what you are talking about. :smallwink:

pendell
2011-02-26, 06:27 PM
You might want to study this. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicomachean_Ethics)

No, it is not wrong. There is a middle ground, a Golden Mean between compassion and ruthlessness. The trick is to find that mean, gravitate towards it and stay there. :smallsmile:

Agreed.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Ravens_cry
2011-02-26, 06:39 PM
Personally, I prefer the Paradoxical Commandments. Grit your teeth, take your stand, and say to world full of hate,
"I love you."

VarenTai
2011-02-26, 07:20 PM
Well, VarenTai, I'll be sure to check out the books, because I am curious to know what you are talking about. :smallwink:

If you do, let me know. (That's an open invite to anyone here, btw.) I went and got trained as an official Arbinger facilitator on my own dime because these are so life-changing, and I am happy to discuss/help/whatevs anyone who has read them and wants more insight or anything.

In the meantime, I'll still try to explain better here as I get time!

Ytaker
2011-02-26, 07:52 PM
A true story: In high school, a young lady was beautiful, popular, and the head cheerleader. She met a guy, liked him, and decided that he was the one she was going to marry, so she did. And then for the next 8-9 YEARS, she left every night to party with her friends. He cleaned, cooked, took care of the kids, worked full time, and basically did everything that she refused to do.

His family told him that she was taking advantage of him and that he should leave her, but he replied that he truly loved her, and he didn't mind serving her.

After 8-9 years, she came home one night, announced that she was bored with partying, so for the next 2-3 years, she sat around while he continued doing the same things as before.

He had a heart of love towards her, and continued to serve her. Being human, I can't imagine that he never once felt frustration, hurt, or anger at her behavior, but if they had ruled his heart, then what happened next could not have happened.

After a few years, she finally woke up, and saw him for who he was - the ONLY person in her whole life that truly, honestly loved her. Everyone else said they did, but took off when it got tough, but he was there, even when she did not treat him well. He won her heart, and she changed forever. Now, everyone who knows them is amazed at the strength, quality, and depth of their relationship.

This could not have happened if he was wary of her taking advantage of him.

Here is the truth of life - we are all human, and we can love and be loved without being weak. This husband was strong, not weak. He won her with his love, even when she was actually taking advantage of him, but it didn't feel like she was taking advantage of him to him.

That sounds like a horrible life. 12 years of hell, with a woman who felt no real love. It had a happy ending, but most of those stories don't. Stories like that give false hope. Most people don't change on their own that much. Better to seek out a vaguely functional relationship.

Giving to others is a virtue, but not one that should be your only goal in a relationship. With that one person you should both be getting some sort of benefit out of the relationship otherwise you're likely to resent them greatly. It's not worth the years of tension waiting for that special moment. You might get it, you might not. Better to seek out their goodside early on than gamble on it showing up 12 years of hell later.

Keld Denar
2011-02-27, 03:22 AM
I think its rather sad more then wrong. I mean, you have to be at least a little selfish just to survive, every bite you eat could have been eaten by another, not to mention something had to die for you to eat at all, every drink could be drunk by another every breath you take could have been breathed by another, and so forth.

This is what I was getting at. You are entitled to the things you need to survive. You need the things you need to survive. You need food, you need air, you need companionship. Nobody has the right to take the air from your lungs, nobody has the right to take food from your plate, and nobody has the right to take from you human companionship. Yet I've seen people who give up the things they have, that they need, for others. Not because they loved that person, or because they had extra to give, but because they felt social pressure to do so. As I said, nobody has the right to take from you the things you need to survive, just because they have need for them as well.

As for your story, VarenTai, at least it had a happy ending. What if she had left him after 12 years. Then what? He would have spent 12 long years giving so much and recieving nothing back. No love, no joy, no happiness. If he had left her after 6 months and met someone else, he could have potentially had 11ish years of happiness in a healthy relationship filled with mutual love and respect. Yea, things ended up great in this story, but this story isn't really typical. It was kinda a long shot gamble with a huge cost to end up at what could have been a much higher reward with less heartache and much less lost time. Or it could have not, but 12 years is an awfully big investment for something that might not have even panned out. I'm in a singles activities club, and as part of that I chat with quite a few divorced people. You know what most of them say was their biggest regret? Waiting as long as they did for the person to change into their ideal mate, and that change never happening. For your one story of happiness, I could name at least 12 friends in the club who put in 5, 10, even 15 years into relationships that didn't work. Many of them talk about stoically grinning and bearing it for years hoping that if they keep working at it, it'll get better, but never having it actually getting better.

So yes, perfect story book endings can come about, but most of the time there is just hurt, regret, and disappointment in such stories. You gotta look out for your own needs sometimes, even if that means changing the situation you are in, because most of the time that situation isn't gonna change on its own.

pendell
2011-02-27, 09:52 AM
Personally, I prefer the Paradoxical Commandments. Grit your teeth, take your stand, and say to world full of hate,
"I love you."

Well said. Stolen and put on my facebook.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Crow
2011-02-27, 10:09 AM
That sounds like a horrible life. 12 years of hell, with a woman who felt no real love. It had a happy ending, but most of those stories don't. Stories like that give false hope. Most people don't change on their own that much. Better to seek out a vaguely functional relationship.

Giving to others is a virtue, but not one that should be your only goal in a relationship. With that one person you should both be getting some sort of benefit out of the relationship otherwise you're likely to resent them greatly. It's not worth the years of tension waiting for that special moment. You might get it, you might not. Better to seek out their goodside early on than gamble on it showing up 12 years of hell later.

Well said. I agree that the story describes a pretty horrible life. That guy wasted 12 years of his life basically living as a servant. What kind of self-respecting man allows himself to be used like that? Sure, this story ended well, but that is the exception. Most stories like that end in (believe it or not) the "cheerleader" leaving the spineless sod. Of course, after 12 years as her servant, that wouldn't be as much of a kick in the nuts as it sounds like.

Ytaker
2011-02-27, 11:53 AM
I agree, Crow. If the selfish lady finally left him after all that he might actually be happier. There are many kind, fun and commited women around who can help you fulfil your full potential. There are a lot of commited women with a strong purpose who will appreciate you serving them, if that's what you want. There's no particular need to be with the dysfunctional cruel ones.

Ricky S
2011-02-28, 06:59 AM
Being selfish is the way to go.

pendell
2011-02-28, 08:54 AM
We.. ell, there's got to be a balance.

ON THE ONE HAND, pretty any much any relationship you get into , you're getting into it with a selfish person. Even the most selfless, caring, generous person is going to have days when they're just impossible to live with.

So if you aren't willing to extend grace to selfish people, well, you're not getting married. And if you think your spouse is bad, you just wait until those kids come along. From infant to toddlerhood, self-interest is pretty much everything they're about.

So there's a place for swallowing other people's stupidity and loving them anyway.

ON THE OTHER HAND, it's possible to take that so far that you're enabling a person in abuse and selfishness. Accepting that your husband will never be a teetotaler is one thing. Having him come home plastered every night quite another.

So it's a matter of balance .. of prudence and temperence, as I mentioned above. A constant give-and-take of setting boundaries, determining what selfish behavior you can live with, and what needs to be confronted.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Anxe
2011-02-28, 09:51 AM
I'd suggest you read RA Salvatore's Sellswords trilogy as it has a lot to say about the good and the bad stuff of being selfish. It's also just D&D fiction, so... Not the best source. Just my opinion!

rakkoon
2011-02-28, 09:59 AM
We.. ell, there's got to be a balance.

ON THE ONE HAND, pretty any much any relationship you get into , you're getting into it with a selfish person. Even the most selfless, caring, generous person is going to have days when they're just impossible to live with.

So if you aren't willing to extend grace to selfish people, well, you're not getting married. And if you think your spouse is bad, you just wait until those kids come along. From infant to toddlerhood, self-interest is pretty much everything they're about.

So there's a place for swallowing other people's stupidity and loving them anyway.

ON THE OTHER HAND, it's possible to take that so far that you're enabling a person in abuse and selfishness. Accepting that your husband will never be a teetotaler is one thing. Having him come home plastered every night quite another.

So it's a matter of balance .. of prudence and temperence, as I mentioned above. A constant give-and-take of setting boundaries, determining what selfish behavior you can live with, and what needs to be confronted.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Always listen to Pendell. He's wisdom distilled!

Ricky S
2011-03-01, 02:11 AM
I give people things but only to get something out of it. Not necessarily something physical though. That counts as being selfish right?

hamishspence
2011-03-01, 05:58 AM
Some people define "selfish" as "excessively concerned with self-interest".

Others define it a little more widely- using the term even for healthy self-interest (maybe because they want to "rehabilitate" the word?)

So it may depend on your point of view.

some acts might seem against one's self-interest in the short term- but be in one's self-interest in the long term (or in one's "genetic" self-interest- like sacrificing oneself to save a relative).

There's also "emotional self-interest"- doing what makes one happy- even if it might come at a cost in time and resources- might pay off dividends in the long run- with happiness supporting self-confidence, and the self-confident person being more successful in life.

So, if helping others, and the happiness of others, makes you very happy, then it may in fact be partly in one's self-interest, to do so, even aside from reciprocal altruism.

Keld Denar
2011-03-01, 10:41 AM
I once heard an expression that no act is truely selfless. The act of doing something seemingly selfless creates emotions and feelings and even biochemical responses that are desireable, and performing acts to create those feelings makes it not completely altruistic.

Just something to think about.

hamishspence
2011-03-01, 01:31 PM
one could say- that only the most self-centred and hateful people, can be capable of "true altruism" by this standard.

If someone actually hates helping others- and does it anyway- then, in a sense, they aren't gaining anything, even emotionally.

That might be a reason not to build a moral code based solely on how altruistic an act is-

with sacrificing for a friend being "less good" than for a stranger, and sacrificing for a stranger "less good" than for an enemy.

that doesn't mean altruism is a bad thing- but maybe it should not be the sole determinator of "how moral" an act is.

Partysan
2011-03-01, 05:07 PM
While I agree with close to all criticism of the 12-year story I'd like to chip in and say that the man might not actually have felt bad. There are types of love you can feel where even living like that for someone can make you genuinely happy, at least partly. Not a defence, but still a fact.

mangosta71
2011-03-04, 03:23 PM
If you really want to become cold and hardened...

Think of the care in your heart as a candle flame. Ruthlessly crush that flame in your fist - it may burn your palm, might even hurt for a couple days, but in the end there's no lasting harm and your eyes will adjust to the darkness. I used to care, but one too many emotional blows made me think that not caring would be easier and less painful. I had no idea how easy it would be.

If you're tired of people stepping on you, move out from beneath their feet. Watch them fall, and then simply walk away. Or, if there are witnesses, grab their ankles and pull them down, then act like you were trying to help - having a reputation as someone who tries to help is better than having a rep as someone who simply lets people fail.

In the end, only you really know your own mind. If you can maintain the illusion of being a fully functional member of society, people will accept that as reality. If you're in a relationship with someone that wants to believe that you care, it's easy to fool them into thinking that you really do. Faking it takes a lot less emotional effort and doesn't leave you hurting at the end.

Cue the entire thread calling me a monster. And cue me not caring.

Keveak
2011-03-04, 03:51 PM
If you really want to become cold and hardened...

Think of the care in your heart as a candle flame. Ruthlessly crush that flame in your fist - it may burn your palm, might even hurt for a couple days, but in the end there's no lasting harm and your eyes will adjust to the darkness. I used to care, but one too many emotional blows made me think that not caring would be easier and less painful. I had no idea how easy it would be.

If you're tired of people stepping on you, move out from beneath their feet. Watch them fall, and then simply walk away. Or, if there are witnesses, grab their ankles and pull them down, then act like you were trying to help - having a reputation as someone who tries to help is better than having a rep as someone who simply lets people fail.

In the end, only you really know your own mind. If you can maintain the illusion of being a fully functional member of society, people will accept that as reality. If you're in a relationship with someone that wants to believe that you care, it's easy to fool them into thinking that you really do. Faking it takes a lot less emotional effort and doesn't leave you hurting at the end.

Cue the entire thread calling me a monster. And cue me not caring.

Wouldn't call you a monster, possibly a Goth or Punk type, monsters are those that not only let people fall but go out of their way to find a lawn-mower to purée the fallen afterwards.

So yay! You're normal, I pity you. :smalltongue:

I will however note that what you described is supposedly how a lot of psychopaths live without being stereotypical murderers.

Not that you're one, it's just an interesting coinkidink. ^_^

mangosta71
2011-03-04, 05:17 PM
I will however note that what you described is supposedly how a lot of psychopaths live without being stereotypical murderers.

Not that you're one, it's just an interesting coinkidink. ^_^
I would not be offended by the label. It's close enough to the truth.

KenderWizard
2011-03-04, 06:46 PM
If you really want to become cold and hardened...

Think of the care in your heart as a candle flame. Ruthlessly crush that flame in your fist - it may burn your palm, might even hurt for a couple days, but in the end there's no lasting harm and your eyes will adjust to the darkness. I used to care, but one too many emotional blows made me think that not caring would be easier and less painful. I had no idea how easy it would be.

If you're tired of people stepping on you, move out from beneath their feet. Watch them fall, and then simply walk away. Or, if there are witnesses, grab their ankles and pull them down, then act like you were trying to help - having a reputation as someone who tries to help is better than having a rep as someone who simply lets people fail.

In the end, only you really know your own mind. If you can maintain the illusion of being a fully functional member of society, people will accept that as reality. If you're in a relationship with someone that wants to believe that you care, it's easy to fool them into thinking that you really do. Faking it takes a lot less emotional effort and doesn't leave you hurting at the end.

Cue the entire thread calling me a monster. And cue me not caring.

I'm not going to call you a monster either, I just feel kind of sorry for you. Yeah, people can hurt you if you care about them, but hey, that's life. Caring about people is life. Sometimes getting hurt is life. If there's no emotions, it's an existence. Personally, I'd prefer a life! I'm saying this more to present a different viewpoint to anyone (including Pika) who's looking for advice, more than trying to change your mind. You're free to quench your metaphorical candle and make believe you can see in pitch darkness if that's what you want to do. I'll still care, but what do you care about that? :smallwink:

Moff Chumley
2011-03-04, 08:10 PM
In the words of John Lennon, and probably a bunch of other people, whatever gets you through the night. :smalltongue: