Selflessness and selfishness are two very misunderstood terms. People mistakenly think that selfishness means doing things with the intention of taking care of your-self and they also think that selflessness means doing everything for other people that they want, taking everything on board, and never doing anything for your-self.
It’s always important to understand the balance in all of these actions in order to see the reality of the situation.
All day long, you do things for yourself, only based on what you want. If someone else needs something from you, or asks you to get something that they need which might ‘put you out’ a little, you refuse. Your time is your time and you want to keep it all to you.
This is pure selfishness.
Now imagine the opposite.
All day long, you run around for people getting everything they want, not having a second for yourself to get things done or to focus on what you need. You are constantly being told where to go and what to do without ever having the ability to sit down and think for yourself. People use you to the point of exhaustion, every day like a servant to the needs and wants of others.
This is pure selflessness and it is exhausting.
In all of this, it is vital that we find the balance.
When we take care of the needs of others, we must do so while maintaining what we need also. When we need a break, we must be able to say no. When a person’s requests or demands are getting to be too much weight on our shoulders, again we must learn to say no.
While looking after and taking care of others, we must also make it a high priority to have time to ourselves, to relax and not have to deal with any added stresses and pressure.
Doing this, taking time out for ourselves, to give ourselves what we need, actually allows us to better serve others. If there is not balance, very quickly we will become exhausted and drained of our ability to do anything.
In this state, we would quickly become depressed and overwhelmed, or perhaps even start to get irritable and angry. This is all because there is no balance between selfishness and selflessness.
What we are trying to achieve here is ‘Real Selflessness’. The kind of selflessness that is balanced, that gives both ourselves and the other person or people what we all need. Living in this way actually makes us more capable of helping others, because at the same time we maintain our own requirements along with the requirements of everyone else.
It is important that we take as good care of ourselves as we do others. If we don’t, we actually lose the ability to take care of others properly.
Developing the right kind of balance means we can go on living through ‘Real Selflessness’ for as long as we continue to live.
How To Be Truly Selfless
We must be honest with ourselves and with others. We must have boundaries in place that don’t allow other people to take advantage, unknowingly or not.
We must recognize when things are becoming too much to handle, and when we need a little space to relax and let go of the stress.
Once we recognize this, we must put everything down, essentially say ‘no’ to the world for a little while so that we can rest, recover, recuperate and reset to come back reinvigorated and ready to serve once again.
Living in this way means that we aren’t just taking care of others, we are simultaneously taking care of ourselves in the same moment.
People will respect this and appreciate it because everyone knows how it feels to be stressed and exhausted and at the same time, they will appreciate that you are still helping them, or that you will continue to be your giving self once, you have had enough of a break to focus on yourself.
Learn to have boundaries in place and effectively implement them. By doing this, you will learn how to be the right amount of selfless and the right amount of selfish, without falling into any extremes.
The middle way is always balanced. Learn to walk the middle way and take care of yourself as much as you do others.