The Self Can Be Our Worst Enemy
Updated: Oct 14, 2019
As human beings, we are subject to certain realities like surviving (Survival of the Fittest). Because of this harsh reality, a lot of our decisions and thinking tend to lean towards supporting the self and strengthening defenses. In other words, the more we over-protect, the more selfish we become.
We are all very selfish creatures. Think about it. In light of recent events, it just becomes more and more evident how self-centered and selfish we really are. I'm not pointing any fingers, either. I throw myself right into this selfish circle. Here are some ways I have noticed this selfishness manifest:
If someone has a differing opinion from your own, we immediately go into defense mode instead of dialoging. This shows we are incapable of having a discussion or have no desire to, and we lean more towards arguing, fighting, or debating.
If something doesn't affect us directly, most times, we don't care to understand what that something is. Whether it be poverty, mental illness, race issues, etc, we tend to stay in our own comfortable bubbles. We do not truly want to understand sad realities outside of our own because it does not affect us directly.
We want accountability and judgment of the highest kind when it comes to others, but we don't want that same accountability and judgment applied to us. We become defensive and justify our actions, despite being harsh and judgmental against others who do similar things, becoming incredibly hypocritical in the process.
We don't really care about the world, only our own world. Normally, we become so invested in our own stuff that even being aware of the world around us becomes somewhat of a nuisance. Horrific killings in the Middle East, awful floodings and storms in Asia, and overseas politics affecting the lives of millions are all happening right now, even as I type this, but for many of us, those are not on our radar. They are not as important to us as our trivial problems and complaints.
We stereotype, whether we want to admit it or not. We judge based on what we see, but we would be incredibly offended if this same stereotyping was applied to us.
If someone believes something contrary to you, we immediately think negatively of that person or the belief. It can be religious, it can be political, or it can even be something of protest. Like prior ones, we are not willing to talk about it, but we are quick to attack.
When someone disappears from your life, we think it is their fault for leaving, but communication is a two-way street. If the connection was severed at all, we are also at fault, a reality that is difficult to face.
There are many other circumstances where we prove our self-centered ways. The thing with our selfishness is that it is easy to do. The more challenging, loving, and wise approach is much more difficult yet incredibly beneficial. That challenge is this:
LISTEN. Really listen. Listen to those around you, listen to those you disagree with, listen to those who have experienced something you've never faced. LISTEN. Become more aware of the world around you and learn.
EMPATHIZE. Imagine yourself in that person's shoes and really feel who they are, where they come from, and why they think the way they do. This helps us to connect more deeply and understand more clearly.
TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WANT TO BE TREATED. It was wise thousands of years ago, and it is still incredibly wise today.
If we just LISTEN, EMPATHIZE, and TREAT OTHERS LOVINGLY, the world can be a much better place. The problem we will always face and run into is our selfish tendencies, and we will have difficulty seeing life and reality through our "self-filter". We need to learn to die to oneself and see the world around us more clearly. Let us work together to be better. Let us work together to help one another. Let us work together to make a difference!
Who is ready to build bridges with me?