I am not by nature an unselfish person. I tend to be very self-absorbed i.e. preoccupied with myself and my interests. This, of course, has made it very difficult for me to relate well with many people. Whenever you talk to me, I zone out and wait oh-so-patiently for a break in the conversation so that I can air whatever brilliant idea that is on my mind. Until a series of painful experiences made me realize the need to change this aspect of myself.
How did I set out on the road to unselfishness? It’s very simple, really. Growing up, my mother never got tired of telling me how selfish I was and we had lots of fights at home over this. Maybe I was truly a selfish bitch, maybe not. But the point is that I believe perception is reality, according to Bree Van de Kamp in the ABC TV series Desperate Housewives. If people around me see me as selfish, it shows that I have a problem which I need to work upon. I should not just go on hurting others with my inability to take other’s feelings, opinions, and preferences into consideration.
I’m not a fan of altruism because, to me, it only serves to protect the altruistic person from anxiety. I was also offended by the thought of putting others first, as though I were unimportant. My ego was offended whenever I thought of this. So one other option was open to me: my very own definition which I call unselfishness, rather than selflessness.
An unselfish person takes the time out to show an active and equal interest in people’s affairs and feelings as he would do on his own. This is done simultaneously as you are thinking of yourself.
You do not suspend your interest in your affairs while you think of the next person.
Don’t get me wrong: it is not as if I never had any interest in others. The thing is that my interest in myself far exceeded my interest in the next person. I realized that this ought to change.
Someone once told me that I needed to be able to develop a lively interest in other people, their opinions, preferences, likes, dislikes, beliefs, feelings, what makes them tick and so on. That it is not only when I am sizing someone up in a bid to know if s/he will be a good fit for a friendship or partnership that I should do this. And that I should monitor my feelings in the process. I am currently working on this because it is my goal to get on well with as many people as possible.
I hope I succeed!
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