As I continue this journey to living to my fullest potential and being my best self, I was thinking about how being self-centered is one of my most self-defeating habits. It’s so ironic – I can be so concerned with my own SELF and yet this concern is one of the things that holds my SELF back the most.
I think we all are inherently selfish, as human beings, and I am no exception. I think many people would describe me as a nice person, but they don’t always see how very selfish I am and can be. Sometimes, it’s the people closest to you who see you at your worst. I am really determined to see myself at my worst so I can work on those things and live my best.
Let me explain what I mean. There’s nothing wrong with being concerned about yourself or thinking about yourself, your needs, etc. There are many doctrines and schools of thought about not being completely selfless and expounding the virtue – and necessity – of thinking of yourself and your own needs. And it is necessary to do that. But I see now that it is equally important to not get so wrapped up in yourself that you can’t see the forest for the trees. That you can’t see your real reality (as opposed to your perceived reality) and that you can’t see the needs of others.
I was reading a commentary from Joyce Meyer and she said that at one point in her life, she was more concerned with how she was being treated than how she was treating others. And this spoke volumes to me. I thought how true that was of me and how many ways this manifests itself in my life.
Take WORRY as one example. It’s human to worry, and I am very human. LOL. I worry a lot. I worry about the safety and wellbeing of my loved ones. I worry about life circumstances, like health, finances, business, the future – the usual things. I worry about how I look, how I take care of myself – OMG, I worry about everything it seems sometimes. And worry can get me down, I tell you! Sometimes, I can get so consumed with worry about something that it just plain gets me into a depression.
They have this quote that says, ‘Be a warrior not a worrier’. A friend told me that once and I took it to mean simply that I should focus on my solutions and my strength and not on my fears and weaknesses. And that is sound advice, indeed. But one Sunday morning recently, I was volunteering at Church by greeting at one of the entrance doors. I found myself assigned to a door on my own because we were undermanned, and it was not one of our busiest doors so I found myself with a lot of time to think about my worries that morning. And feel the worry and fear start to bubble up inside of me.
So as I stood there, I heard a soft voice say, “Stop being so wrapped up in yourself. Pray for some other people right now and stop focusing so much on you!”
I was like, “Hmm, ok…” And I started to pray as I stood there, saying Good Morning to comers and goers, praying silently while I served. I prayed for all the people I knew and their specific needs. I prayed for people I didn’t know. I just prayed for everyone I could think of. And as I prayed, I felt the worry simmer down and slowly leave me. I felt a peace rolling in and settling inside of me. And I knew in my heart that everything was going to be okay and I felt serenity and comfort and confidence.
That morning took place MONTHS ago now. But I remember it as if it were yesterday, because it really impacted me that I spend so much time focusing on myself and my own worries and that if I just focus on lifting up other people and their needs, I will find peace. And clarity. I’m not saying that my worries were relieved magically as a result; just that I found peace and perspective – and that gave me clarity I needed so desperately to start to think calmly – without panic – about possible solutions and to start to work on them.
Another example is in RELATIONSHIPS. When I have a disagreement or fight with someone, I tend to spend the time following thinking about how their words or actions affected or hurt me. And how good I am to them. And how much I don’t deserve their treatment of me. And how good a person I am in general. And how, gosh-dammit, people like me…
Do you see where I am going with this? I spend sooooo much time thinking about me, me, me, me, me.
Dangit, if only the world could see that it needs to spend as much time thinking about ME!!! Because, Fifth Harmony hit the nail on the head, Baby – I’m worth it!!!! 😉
Over the past year or so, I have really started to learn to look closer at my own actions in any disagreement or fight. To consider how MY words or actions affected the other person – or hurt them. And to genuinely feel regret, remorse – and apologize. Now sometimes, this process takes HOURS, days even. It is not so easy to get outside of your own head and emotions and see how things might look from the other person’s perspective. It’s especially difficult to find fault in yourself and to own it and be accountable for it. But I try – especially if the relationship matters – my gosh – its even more CRITICAL if you truly value the relationship.
I read something last week – on pinterest, I think – that says in an argument with someone you love, be strong enough, courageous enough and gracious enough to recognize, acknowledge and say ‘I love you more than this argument!’. And I just said “BOOM!!!!!!” That hit me hard!!! If I love them more than the argument – more than being right, more than pressing my point, getting my way or whatever – I can find the strength to think about their feelings and see how they might be affected by whatever it is I am saying, wanting or doing – and I can man up enough to say “Hey, I’m sorry! I may feel this or that – but I never meant to hurt you or discount your feelings or to be so freaking self-centered that I can’t consider your view, feelings or point. Where can we find middle ground here?” Of course, sometimes I am the one who is just plain wrong and I need to own that too.
I have learned that you can’t change someone else’s behavior, actions or reactions – but you can change your own. And that over time, in any type of relationship, if you work on making your actions and reactions in the relationship be grounded in love first and foremost, and grace – you will bring about positive change to your relationship, because it’s pretty darn hard for the other party not to respond to that. Maybe not immediately, not overnight, but over time – they will react to the way you act and react and change occurs.
And let’s face it – in any argument, you are pretty much guaranteed to each have a point and a side to consider. It’s unusual for you to not each be at least partially right. And this applies to any type of relationship you have: family, friends, business…
I guess I’m saying that what I have been learning is that when I recognize that it is NOT all about me and that it is also about other people – and I act in accordance with that – I WIN! Not when I focus on myself and work single-mindedly on my own interest(s), way or concerns. I usually pretty much always lose when I do it that way.
And right now, at this time of my life, I want to win. I want to win in ways that matter. I’m forty-seven years old. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life losing because I was fighting for the wrong things and in all the wrong ways. I want to win the fight of being the best person I can be – becoming and being the person God created me to be.
I want to run the race before me and never give up; to remove everything from my life that gets in my way and holds me back; to focus on the One who created me and my faith and makes it perfect in me – and win!