Do you care for and love your self as you ought to?
In today’s society, we have become so focused on our jobs, our families, our friends, our coworkers, our education, our finances, our possessions, our weekends, and so on and so forth – that we have become utterly negligent of the self.
I came across this notion of Pathwalking – and choosing my own life’s path – because I took a look at who I was, and determined I wanted to focus on myself. I wanted to seek out, choose, explore, and share the walk along my path. I determined that I was not alone in this desire, and so began to write about my journey.
We have become indoctrinated in the idea that this is selfishness. Too much focus on the self, we have come to believe, leads automatically to selfishness, arrogance, greed, corruption…and as a consequence we will become uncaring, socially unacceptable creatures unfit to walk amongst the rest of humankind. But this is a lie that prevents us from getting to know ourselves.
We are taught from an early age to share, and to think about others, and to consider the feelings of those around us. I am not saying that this is a bad thing in any way, but what we neglect to explore is the connection between the self and the person we are sharing with, how we think about ourselves, and considering our own feelings.
I must iterate here that there is nothing wrong with selflessness – except when it involves the utter lack of attention and energy to the self. When all you do is give, and sacrifice, and disregard your own needs and desires, you create an immense imbalance in your own energies. As I have said many times before, balance is necessary in life.
We have become creatures of extremes. Society places tremendous attention and focus on the extreme opposites: male versus female, Republican versus Democrat, heterosexual versus homosexual, rich versus poor, fat versus thin, and so forth. But life is very seldom defined by the extreme opposites, most is balanced somewhere in the middle.
When it comes to time on the self and time for others, we cannot neglect the self and have balance. But because we are so acutely aware of these opposite extremes, we forget that there is a line between self care and selfishness, and that we cannot ignore the one because of fear of the other.
We see all kinds of examples of selfish acts. Greed, betrayal, lies and deceptions, hatred and cruelty, hoarding and on and on are constantly being displayed across social media, in the news, and elsewhere. These selfish examples are held up as standards of bad people and behavior, and they are used to discourage others from being the same.
But self care, self love, and self talk are NOT selfish. They are utterly necessary. If we neglect the self and sacrifice our wellbeing, our happiness, and our desires just to be selfless, we are only hurting ourselves. In truth, we selfishly give in order to keep up appearances.
That makes no sense. Giving to others is not a selfish act, no matter if it is time, money, energy or whatever. That’s true. But when you sacrifice your principles, your ideals, your own goals and desires and happiness in the act of giving, why are you doing that? Because you selfishly need to show others what a good, giving, kind and caring person you are.
Yes, I am going right to the extremes I was decrying just a few paragraphs before this. But in our society we have become far too accepting of all-or-nothing approaches and attitudes. It is in this way that we have become increasingly neglectful of the self, and justified that neglect by observing the ways we sacrifice and share and give to others around us.
So there you have your extremes in this matter. Selfishness on the one hand, sacrifice on the other. Where is the middle? Compromise.
It is surprisingly easy to mistake compromise for sacrifice. The difference with regards to the self is simple – compromise is striking a balance between giving OF, holding FOR and taking FOR the self; whereas sacrifice is unbalanced with giving FROM, holding NOTHING and taking FROM the self. Compromise acknowledges the necessity of balance in the needs for the self and for giving to others, while sacrifice is giving without any consideration for the healthy needs of the self.
Caring for and loving yourself is immensely important to Pathwalking. If you do not find balance in giving to and taking for the self, then you might find you really do not know who you are. Pathwalking requires a healthy knowledge of the self. The choice of path can hardly matter when the self has been neglected.
Do you have the same healthy love, honor, and respect for the self as you seek to show when giving to others?
This is the ninety-third entry in my series. These weekly posts are specifically about walking along the path of life, and my desire to make a difference in this world along the way. Thank you for joining me.