The Sin of Selfishness

May 3, 2010

“Some people help others just to make themselves feel better than they really are.” I read this sentence and thought: “helping others only to make yourself feel better is not a good thing. It is selfish, it’s cheating, manipulation. It is wrong to want something for yourself. The real, praiseworthy and honorable deed, is the one that does not benefit the doer, a deed that is truly altruistic.” I know all this, and yet I could not restrain a shudder when I read this sentence. Some people help others just to make themselves feel better that they really are. I am being myself lately, more than ever before. I am exploring my ways of being. I draw and I write and I make up stories and I begin to believe that I can do all that, only that, because I want to. Because I like to. Because when I wake up in a morning, knowing that I will draw a portrait I started the day before, and I ask myself: “if I were to die tomorrow, would I be drawing this portrait today?” my answer is: “O Yes! Yes, I would.” And that is a reason enough. It is not an easy thing to believe, that it’s a reason enough. I have been struggling with myself for over a year now. The first time I thought: “I think I’d like to write a book” I was hit squarely in a face with: “no, you cant!”. This punch brought with it depression, hypochondria, fear so strong that it was hardly possible to function. It all came up so that I would not be able to function. I was hardly aware of anything this last year – but I was aware of that. I knew what’s going on because every time another an idea came, whenever I imagined drawing, illustrating, writing stories, a thought would come immediately to slap me in a face and say: “No! You can’t! You won’t!”. “You won’t be happy”, it said, “you won’t have this wonderful, blissful and joyous life you are daring to imagine for yourself! You won’t be able to do just what you want to do! No!”. There wasn’t any “you are not worthy” kind of thoughts. Whatever it was that would stop me did not find it necessary to give any reasons. It was enough for me to know that I will not do what I want, that I will not live how I want – that I will live as I should. And yet I kept going, little step by little step. I kept writing and kept drawing and kept doing all the things I wanted to do and, eventually, the refusal lessened a bit. The denial became weaker. Little by little, I was becoming my life. Little by little, “me” became the only reason – what I want, how I see, how I feel, how I express. And I felt happy, more and more, with every day. Not only that – people around me begun to feel happy, they liked what I do, they felt inspired by me being me. They tell me so, that’s how I know. There is happiness in my life these days, there is joy in what I do every day not only for me, but for others around me. There is happiness and joy and play and fun for everyone, available to everyone, because I am myself and I do what I want. But what if I wanted to be good, honorable and helpful? What if I sacrificed myself, what if I let go of myself in order to help others, as a good human being should? What if I did not argue with whatever was telling me: “no, you can’t do what you want!”? If I let go of myself, If I decided not to be myself, not to do what I want, but to do what is “right”, do what I “should” – what would be left? What would be left of me? What would be left of me, if I decided that I am not important, that my life is not important, that I have to sacrifice myself for others? Yes, I would work, yes, I would fix some things, I would relieve some pain, maybe, eventually, I would make some difference in the world but … would I be happy? Would there be happiness in my life? Would there be joy for me? Or for anyone else? Would there be joy in my life if the life wasn’t mine, if it was for something else, for someone else? Would there be joy in my life if I wasn’t in it? I don’t think there would be. There would be sacrifice and work and duty, there would be some satisfaction, but not fun. And if I have no fun – how can I bring fun to others? If I have no joy – how can I bring joy to others? If I am not happy in my life, as who I am – how can I bring happiness to others? How can I inspire others to be themselves, if I am not being myself? And how can I be myself if I believe that doing things to make myself feel better is not a good thing? That It is selfish, it’s cheating, manipulation? That It is wrong to want something for yourself? That the real, praiseworthy and honorable deed, is the one that does not benefit the doer, a deed that is truly altruistic? I don’t think I can. This is why I shuddered when I read the sentence: “Some people help others just to make themselves feel better than they really are.” I shuddered, and I thought that everything that we do should be done just to make ourselves feel better. In fact the most important thing in the world should be to find delight in being ourselves, in expressing ourselves, in exploring ourselves, in being who we are, because how we relate creates reality. How we relate to ourselves creates our life.

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