If someone told you that you must be selfless and not selfish, they are wrong. If they tell you that you need to figure out and take care of all your needs first before you can be there for others; they are very close to being right. The actuality is finding a balance across time to be selfish and selfless. Sometimes you have to do what’s right for yourself and sometimes without hesitation you do what you think is right for others. This is the place to be; the balance.

Here’s my personal account…
It took me about two years from the time I decided to love myself unconditionally till I discovered how I could be truly selfless towards others. I saw this as a move from being selfish to selfless. I started by demanding that others love and accept me for who I was, just like what my mom would do for me. But most of all, I wanted this special someone to accept me as is, for my mistakes, my flaws and my foolishness; to love me for me and not for what I do or say.
With this big expectation that seemed quite easy for others, I was missing a big reality.
The chances of this happening the way I expected was not in my favor. I was battling time and patience.

~The Secret (movie)~

Around this period the inspirational movie – ‘The Secret’ made waves. But as much as it had its media and skeptic back lash, I found a value in the law of attraction i.e. ‘Like attracts like’; the concept of compatibility.
I asked myself ‘what was it that I wanted to attract?’
I wanted others to love me unconditionally just as I love myself. That’s all.

Then it hit me…
In order to be loved and accepted by others unconditionally, I had to first love and accept them unconditionally, i.e. I had to be like them to attract them.

It was a tough thought to accept for the longest time. I didn’t need to consciously apply this to my parents while I was younger; but I guess I always accepted them unconditionally without knowing. And now, to be compatible with this new breed of people, I had to become those qualities that I wanted from them. It seemed to follow the age old wisdom that ‘I have to give love to get love in return’ or ‘Giving away something from your closet to make room for something new.’

~Unselfish Moral Obligations v/s Selfish Heart’s Desire~

From the kind of society we come from and with the constant battles we fight within ourselves and outside, it is a bit difficult to be truly unselfish without understanding or taking help from any source. Even though we try to listen closely to our conscience, we confuse ourselves over moral obligations. Its very unfair that we argue ourselves over what we morally ‘ought’ to do versus what we desire to do. Some moral duties as taught to us by parents and society are the most heart breaking of them all. To make things worse, we sometimes hear disheartening and un-supportive statements from them when we divert away from our moral obligations. We silently punish ourselves by thinking how cruel and un-sacrificial we really are even though we did it in innocence for ourselves.

Here’s a list of popular taunts from my hay days ;-):
You are self centered.
Its all about you.
All you think and care about is yourself.
You are selfish.
You always have vested interests.
You always want something.

Here’s another list of what I secretly tell myself but I deny being it when others question me!
What am I going to get from this?
How am I going to gain if I help others?
What is in it for me?
What’s the point if I get nothing in return?

These are just normal behaviors found in most people who have been trying to help themselves by unconditionally loving themselves. It sounds a bit superficial when I say it but unless they completely help themselves, they cannot help others. What can I offer you if I can’t offer much to myself?

~finding that balance~

When I learned how to balance a bicycle, I’ve noticed that I fell at least once to the left and once to the right. It seemed natural to tip, twist & turn before balancing myself right. Only when I learned and realized the extremities of these 2 ends, that I slowly wavered to a center point decreasing my chances of error. This comes with practice, sheer determination and the understanding that I don’t have to be perfect to appreciate my constant efforts.
I don’t race against time, but I take my time. The same applies to finding a balance between selflessness and selfishness. As long as you are on the earth plane, you have to find a balance between the two. You cannot sustain being entirely selfless or selfish. Experience both extremities before finding what you like. In all cases, humans in general are naturally selfless most of the time as well as naturally confused about it ;). but as always you are the best judge to know what is a good balance for you.

Most people bounce between these two extremities (selfless and selfish).
As they confuse themselves over it, they tend to make life miserable for the ones they love but worse off, they make life miserable for themselves. If they can successfully understand what they are doing wrong, the only way is up!

~Unselfish with resentment aka Miss Doormat~
This is denial at its best. Miss Doormat is a person who loves to help but doesn’t know how to stop and where to draw the line. She needs to learn to help herself instead; she needs to know ‘when’ to say ‘No’ and when to say ‘Yes’. Without this, Miss Doormat is constantly denying herself the love and respect she deserves. I’ve seen my friends behave like doormats and it really upsets me to see them the way they are without seeking help. Worse off, they mostly get bad advice from very helpful friends who are clueless themselves.

~Selfishness with resentment/guilt~
When you recognize that you are selfish, you do so because you have the opposing desire to be what comes to you naturally; i.e. the act of being selfless. The only way to dissolve the guilt and resentment is to understand a certain reality. A reality that ‘you cannot give what you do not have enough of’, ‘you cannot make others happy if you are unhappy’ and that ‘you cannot love others if you cannot love yourself first’. You will also be the best judge to know when you are ready for this selfless leap. Morality is just a road block to attaining high levels of spirituality i.e. your best possible you.

From Miss Doormat’s point of view, she could be making efforts to say ‘No’ and help herself instead. Being in this new place, she may be confused with certain realities. She may be overly uncomfortable with being ‘not nice’ as she may see it. She may worry about what others think about her instead of what she thinks about herself. But putting others aside, if she recognizes herself to feel slightly good about being selfish, its a good thing, a time of self healing. Once she masters this state, she can progress to higher grounds of balance.

~Selfishness without resentment~
If you can be selfish without resentment without publicly denying it, it would be a good state to be in (on one condition). You would need to be truthful about it and make it clear to others that you are what you are i.e. self-centered. A bold statement like this is usually appreciated and well reciprocated. Either way, this stage is a definite stepping stone to finding a good balance. The best judge to know when you are ready to be a bit selfless is you.

~Un-Selfish without resentment~
People at this level are usually the spiritually evolved. I have a set of friends who I thought were like doormats but they never resented giving away what they had. In fact it didn’t really affect them if someone walked away thinking that they took advantage of them. They seemed to do this consciously with absolutely no resentment. But as much as it bothered me initially, I realized that every action they performed was equal to the weathering of rocks. It may not be visible today, but overtime it will weather even the strongest and biggest of stone hearts. They are ‘Time Surfers’ and made time their friend. They understand death, concepts of re-incarnation and the afterlife. They are my teachers in this lifetime and I realize that my life on earth is a like being in school. I am still learning.

I hope this helps you as much as it helped it me during my time of need.
Love & Peace out!

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~love just is~

Unless you are a therapist, a spiritualist or someone who has completely understood the way this world revolves, there is a good chance you believe that you have understood ‘love’ but lack ways to easily articulate it. I don’t mean to down play you in any way but I wrote this especially to empower you with thoughts that have been around for generations and ways to explain what love truly is.

Many of us have associated ourselves with love but ever since our teen years we have misunderstood being ‘in love’ with the actual ‘true love’. We can recognize this when we tell our boy-friends or girl-friends that we’re ‘in love’ with them and when they are not around, we get upset; on occasions when they are with others, we compete for attention; and when they do something different from what we like, it troubles us. We even quantify love by saying ‘I love you more than you love me’. While this seems very cute in its own way, there is a big difference between what we express in the relationship and what love really is.

~the real difference~

We have not understood ‘love’ the way it really is but have experienced something called ‘in love’. ‘In Love’ is to receive love from the other person and is a dependence based relationship. In this relationship, we are attached to our own happiness but this happy feeling comes from another person’s presence. This is more obvious when they are not around us. We miss them and feel low. In truth we only miss them for the love that they give to us. By being dependent or attached in a relationship this way, we are setting ourselves up for pain. We resist any attempt to remove this dependence or attachment and we know how hurtful it is when we don’t get what we want from them (its an addiction). We innocently forget about what makes them happy and sometimes we act possessive taking away the space they need. Barely do we realize that these problems are within ourselves first; that we are deficit in some way and that their presence seems to complete us. These people that we depend on for happiness could be anyone, a boy or girlfriend, a best friend or even a role model. But while this may sound wrong or terrible, it really is not. In the real sense of the word, this is a stepping stone to understand how to be emotionally independent and how to truly love. Everyone walks this path.

~true love~

When we truly love someone, we only give love, not expect to receive any. We accept the person for who he or she is. This is the same as the unconditional love we talk about between a mother and her child. There is never a reason; we just love. When the time and person is right, we feel it deep within ourselves and nothing known physically to us can ever explain it. True love or unconditional love is unconditional acceptance of a person no matter what their actions dictate; but it does not mean unconditional acceptance of their actions; just the person. Please don’t read only into that line, there is more. We know that people change and their actions evolve over time. We have faith in them because we see in them a ‘them’ that they themselves cannot see. It’s just a matter of time before they figure themselves out through the many good and bad things they do; and trust me, they will consciously do almost every thing that today’s society or you considers bad. However, Love, in a relationship, is accepting them for who they are while expecting them to be the best they can be for themselves; not for you. Loving them is never about you; its about them. When they want you to let go, let them go, let them grow; your part is done. If you are looking for someone to love you, just remember the quote by Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” & like will attract like. When you learn to love unconditionally, only then you will easily attract another who will love you unconditionally.

~what love isn’t!~

Love isn’t detachment or attachment but a fine balance between the two and knowing when to do either. Love never has reasons; but reasons have love. Love isn’t dependence but freedom to grow. Love isn’t denial but acceptance of self and self emotions. Even hate is love; its someone who’s upset because they didn’t get the love they needed; they are just asking to be loved. Even Jealousy is love, someone wanting the source of love and happiness that you have.
However, due to haste, desperation or just bad sources of information, we remain confused and continue creating reasons for why we should love. Magazines, surveys or compatibility ads are main sources of our wealth of toxic information. Loving someone for a reason is not true love for the other person. Reasons are conditions which when satisfied makes us happy. It just shows that we are in love with that reason and not the person. When we love the reason or that condition, we indicate that we are loving ourselves instead and are trying to make ‘ourselves’ happy; not them. This is the same as making use of them to make us happy; but the reality is that we need to fill our own voids first before we can truly love someone else for who they are. It’s even more scary when we choose to love for a reason and then over time those reasons vanish; and we’d find ourselves hating that same very person. We know this when we use words like, ‘I loved the old you better’. But this is not the end of it all; it’s just one of those jump starts we need.

~how do I learn to truly love someone?~

It’s easier said than done. Learn to love yourself first without going outside for love. When you truly love yourself will you be able to truly love others. There are so many articles on-line that teach us to truly love ourselves. Here are two articles worth reading and two tracks worth listening to.

http://ezinearticles.com/?How-To-Love-Yourself-Indulgently-And-Unconditionally&id=781515
http://www.healthyplace.com/Communities/Relationships/serendipity/topics/topic016.html
and finally India Arie with her track “Video” (You Tube)
http://www.pandora.com/music/song/india+arie/video
and Whitney Houston with “The Greatest Love of All
They all say one thing. We need to first accept ourselves for the way we are with all the flaws we have. No one is perfect, no one will ever be. Everyone starts from the bottom of the ladder to get to the top with respect to accepting themselves the way they are. Financially rich people face the same problems we do. Underneath all that perfection is always imperfection; behind all the glitz is misery that even money won’t solve. We all walk the same path and help is always there. The best part is that you don’t have to make any sacrifices in loving your self.

~on unconditional love and divorce in non violent relationships~

When we finally learn to love unconditionally, we are much more comfortable in our relationships and we easily accept our other halves as people who are struggling to understand themselves. When a need for a divorce occurs, it would be from their side as they battle to search for their source of true love. True love starts within ourselves and at home; but if a divorce helps, do what it takes to help yourself.

~What is sacrifice? Is it associated with giving up?~

Sacrifice truly means ‘to make sacred’. By giving up something you really want, you are instead only hurting yourself; you are not making any relationship sacred! Even though you may give something up for someone, it is not sacrifice unless you are truly happy inside and without resentment. Anything short of this is truly superficial. Its only after you learn how to truly love yourself, making sacrifices becomes so much easier and accurate to its definition. Let me explain.
Sacrifice is never about giving up happiness but gaining even more happiness for yourself by making others happy. When you unconditionally love others, seeing them happy is what truly makes you happy. If they find happiness in what you have and you truly love them, giving it to them is really easy when you know that your happiness comes from within you and no where else. Sacrifices becomes very simple and no different than a side effect of true love. Sacrifice always originates from self when self is ready and should never be imposed or expected of you.

~when should I not sacrifice?~

When you don’t want to!
The act of sacrifice has been glorified but it has lost its meaning over time and lately associated with giving up for a long term benefit. But there is never any long term benefit gained from performing it in guilt, greed or force. In most cases, follow your instinct; in some where it is confusing, its best to wait and let the passage of time convince you. Do whatever it takes to balance between keeping yourself happy and doing things to keep others happy. Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come from the elders; but in some cases guilt surely does; don’t let them ever guilt you or force you. Draw your boundaries and follow your heart. And for those who prefer to be associated with ‘logic’; follow your mind!

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~define love!~

Love is to accept unconditionally!
I love you = I accept you unconditionally! It is a choice.
I am in love with you = Will you accept me unconditionally?

P.S. “I love you” is “I love you to make you happy” and not “I love you to make me happy”;

tag: Love and Sacrifice Misunderstood