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!

I walked this path. I trusted her, I lost trust, I questioned trust and understood it.
Its been a long journey but I hope this helps.

I want us to think about the last time we put our trust or faith in someone and for some reason it ended up in a fiasco. I’m sure that we have all gone through this bit of personal regret while trusting others, and I’m even sure that somewhere we tell ourselves never to trust again, especially with matters very close to our heart. Somewhere and somehow we are losing faith in people and humanity in general. In all this, I ask just one question!

~what kind of a lesson is life teaching us about trust?~

The true reality is, we haven’t understood trust the way it really is, just as the many other things that we believe we know everything about. All that bickering, crying and sulking over blaming others might just go up in smoke after this read is complete. Let me make a quick analysis.

~what are we doing when we trust someone?~

We are placing our happiness in their hands. It could be something as simple as asking a friend to keep a secret from others; a rule that this friend now needs to follow. And when they do as we expect them to, we become or remain happy. The minute they let go of that rule or boundary we placed around them, we see them as letting us down and in turn we’re unhappy with them.
To begin with, is it fair that we put a boundary wall around people we care for as friends or family? Or is it us caring for ourselves and expecting them to care for us too? Trade places for a second now; how would we feel if we were made responsible to keep others happy most of the time? (or in other words carry their emotional baggage?) I know that most of us selflessly do it, but even carrying ones own weight gets tiring. Good friends think wisely before burdening others with their weight. When they do, they make it a point to pay back.

~true happiness and misconception of trust~

If we understand that true happiness comes from within ourselves, then we will also understand that the happiness that comes from fulfilling the ‘trust’ bestowed on others is highly superficial. Somewhere even though we may deny it, we are really seeking acceptance and attention from the ones we trust. It has everything to do with making us happy and not them. Further more, the truth of the matter is that we haven’t yet accepted ourselves for who we are. We lack healthy self esteem and we constantly need someone else to fill in our voids. Hence the ‘trust’ we think we know is a pure misconception.

~true trust & faith~

Trust in others is having faith that they will do their best even though they are vulnerable to mistakes like we all are. Its only human to err. We trust that someday they will learn from their mistakes (if they believe its a mistake) and do the best for themselves; and that’s all that matters. Trusting others with something important means that you are happily ready to accept failure when it happens just as much as you would happily accept success. It’s a package deal and anything less is hypocrisy and leads to the concept of forgiveness. Forgiveness is nothing a but an unhappy seed that arises when trust is misunderstood. More on this in a later post.

~trusting others trails trusting ourselves~

In reality, we need to first trust ourselves to find happiness through a deeper understanding of ourself and not through superficial means. When we lose trust in others, or claim that others have broken our trust, we are really saying that we do not understand the true concept of trust. We have in turn lost trust in ourselves. Its only when we trust ourselves completely, can we trust others with ease. Whatever wrong they do will not affect the true happiness we get from within ourselves. For the fact that every time we superficially trust and it fails us should ring a bell that somewhere we got something figured wrong. Trusting others must never define our happiness; just theirs. Trusting ourselves defines ours.

~what about trusting others to do something I don’t know how to do myself?~

If we want to do something right and its very important to us, its best to do it ourselves. The process of doing it ourselves has many hidden lessons of life. If we don’t know how, we can always learn. If we don’t have the time, we can pay a professional to do it to our expectations. If we just want to find excuses, it boils down to the fact that we don’t trust ourselves enough.

PS. I have faith in you because I have faith in myself. The time to learn is immaterial.

(this is a personal account of what we went through and still striving to achieve as a couple)

I want to start off by resonating with a silent echo that’s been around for generations; i.e. A “healthy self esteem” is the most sought after emotional state for every person aiming to be self confident. Some have successfully achieved authentic self esteem through painful life experiences; some through wise parental guidance but most folks still stand tall on false bottoms – a false sense of self esteem. Unfortunately, a false sense of self esteem spares no one, neither the rich nor the successful. It’s known to be prevalent in CEOs, actors, rap stars, narcissists and even psychologists themselves. It is clearly prevalent in drug addicts, addicts in general, criminals, abusers and the like.

My story spans thirty years during which my emotional baggage got heavier and I constantly duct taped together a false bottom. My wife, a victim of suppressive parenting, was no exception to this psychological handicap. For eight years in our marriage I found on many occasions I bickered, blamed & regretted. I caused her a lot of guilt and shame for not being what I wanted her to be. We couldn’t even be honest and respectful in a relationship. She could not accept constructive criticism and neither could I. Eventually anything she would do was never good enough for me and nothing I did was enough to make her happy. For every step she took, no matter which direction, I guess I ended up saying “you suck!”.  I called her parents suppressive and here I was no different.

It took a devastating turn in my life to notice my junk emotional baggage. I had an extra marital affair in 2006 followed by an attempted divorce. But on the advice of a very good friend and a failing marriage I attempted therapy. She tried it too.

The first thing the therapist signed me up for was self esteem in group therapy. As I walked out of her office, I told myself that I don’t need this and that I have great self esteem. This was my male ego reassuring that the false bottom could withstand an 8.0 earthquake! During my first session, they circulated study material on self esteem. I was taken aback when I found some of the symptoms of low self esteem were the symptoms I had (outlined some of it below). It took a while but when I finally accepted it, I asked my wife to experience this paradigm shift.  She didn’t understand it and preferred her existing way of life. Even though I didn’t see the end of the tunnel for us, I didn’t want to give up. But first I needed to fix myself. I immediately understood that if I had great self esteem I would not have cheated.

Here are some of the symptoms of Low Self Esteem that I had:
I noticed that I was a perfectionist with low tolerance for anything less. (This was only towards people I can take for granted, like my wife).
I would be embarrassed about the color of my skin or the natural discoloration in my teeth. But if you like my skin color, I like it too!
I had very defensive behavior and used to take everything personally (seriously insecure).
I felt a void and I wanted someone to fill it in for me – extra marital affair.
I wanted a hot looking wife to feel important, a little trophy. I didn’t realize I used them.  Many a times (thanks to my culture), I saw them as objects for my own happiness instead of human beings with emotions of their own.
I always wanted to please others at the cost of my own time or money in return for compliments & appreciation.
I wanted everyone to like me and I tried to please everyone. Many a times I ignored the people that mattered because they weren’t that important to my social appearance.
I treated everyone special and lied to them about how great they were so they don’t think any low of me. It was about me, not about them.
At times, I would settle for second best or nothing at all because I thought I didn’t deserve the best and that it was a ‘sacrifice’ well worth it.
I remained a workaholic to prove to everyone how good I was.
I was unable to easily forgive or forget.
I had a superficial outlook.
I wanted to dress well & drive an expensive car to impress others.
I could not say the word “I” with confidence. I would say “we”  or use third person reference while trying to refer to myself.
I was always defensive and in denial.

Initial conclusion:
During my search for answers, I concluded that I had low self esteem. To my surprise and from various sources, I realized that even criminals, alcohol abusers, drug abusers, gamblers, every form of addiction – sex offenders, video game addiction, internet chat addicts, internet addicts, blog addicts, bullies and even something as common as depression source from low self esteem. I’ve read that dysfunctional families (like mine) lacked social integrity. They too lacked self esteem. This explains how the examples they (parents) set for me became an integral part of my life. I’m reluctant to say this (might be taken out of context) but most of the families I know are dysfunctional and there have been very few that I can commend.

Helping my Wife – Low to healthy self esteem:
Over the years I fixed myself pretty good and am finally seeing the end of the tunnel for my wife. I had to take the help of a story to find the patience and endurance to make it work for her.  Check this out. It really helped me!

And with my wife, I watched the false bottom she stood on give away. It took much longer than I expected but I stood below it to cushion her. Therapy didn’t help her at all. There were times I tried to break the false bottom myself, but it just caused us more pain with no result.

Then one fine day she woke up depressed and said, “I’ve lost all my confidence.” This happened right after she discovered that most of her “friends” were using her. They never really liked her to begin with. All that false praise and pretense faded away leaving her emotionally vulnerable.

“I lost my friends & lost my confidence Evans. Am I that bad a person?”  She went on.
I listened as she poured her heart out and then calmly replied, “I’m glad you lost those so called friends. I’m even happier that you lost that confidence.”

Stunned as she was, I continued. “What kind of confidence is it when it comes with your friends and leaves with them? I’d rather you start fresh and build it from within. Look at yourself today. You can achieve anything anywhere anyhow and no one can take that away from you. The real confidence comes from knowing that you are very capable if you choose to. Don’t let others remote control how you feel.” And this is where we are today.

Here’s a few epiphanies I’ve encountered the hard way:
I have realized that being a good listener is the same as making it half way across the bridge.
Clarity, kindness and reassurance in communication is the next most important piece.
I always mention intent when things go wrong. i.e.  “My intent was good, but I couldn’t control the outcome. I’m sorry.”
Its a marathon; building higher tolerance, patience and strength to withstand emotional trauma. I had to push constantly to have her do things for herself.
I realized that I have to fix and finish the job her parents left half way, and that’s a marriage.

Here’s why we ended up the way we were!
We had lack of constant encouragement and support from parents.
We were children not being loved or accepted unconditionally either at home, at school or in the community.
We were always or occasionally compared to other kids.
Our parents were a product of a dysfunctional family themselves where new ideas were not expressed and authoritative behaviors glorified.
One of us came from workaholic parents who were absolutely unaware of its effects.
We were in an environment where feelings were not openly expressed, experienced, or welcome.
We had to deal with fearful or anxiety driven parents who tend to suppress the freedom of growth and expression

Since Recovery Process isn’t easy:
Coming out of low self esteem in an adult life is a lot of work. See link.
If this is important to your life you will need to take the trouble to Google or Yahoo seach “low self esteem”, “self esteem issues” etc. One of the best books I found was ‘The Transformative Power of Crisis‘ by the Alter Family. I highly recommend a copy of it (its out of print, I bought a used copy!).

Good Luck & Peace.


Links:
Article where scientists highlight the effects of low self esteem on a consumer
For those who want to help their spouses with low self esteem, hope this story (http://www.lightyourfire.com/my-girlfriend-has-low-self-esteem.htm)  enlightens you.

~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!

.

.
~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