Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dancing With The Mind



Finding Self-Worth, Part II


Sometimes, I wonder at the nuanced word 'selfish' when it is being verbalised.  Whether this word is being intended, or expressed, or signified about us or to the person at which the word is being directed at.  Whether the circumstances, at the point the word is said, are a call for us to further identify our inner state of being or truly reflect the character of the concerned individual.  Is it a psychological reaction of an expression indirectly an admission of who we are?  Is it about a self trait that we cannot accept?

Say, when another car suddenly cuts in front of our car on the road, adrenaline pumps into our bloodstream.  Our heart rate jumps.  Our blood pressure surges.  Immediately, we jump into conclusion how selfish and inconsiderate the other driver is.

Or, it started with a simple drive to the airport but, before long, our partner started to criticize the way we drive.  That we were not aggressive enough.  That we were not pushing past the speed limit resulting to arrive late at the destination.

Or, when we are being invited to a potluck gathering and we have to finish a project for the group.  In all the rush and time constraint, we offer not to bring anything but the finished project.  Our excuse is 'I have no time to go to the market, buy the stuffs and cook'.  Our stomach is filled but none of the food belongs to our contributions.

Or, a parent starts to instill guilt at the daughter, or son, to get married regardless of her/his conditions.  For them to have additional hand at getting support or at whatever their personal reasons may be.  Or, for them to have grand children just to hold the family's name.  Procreation is not the ultimate nor it is a compulsive, nor perhaps spiritual, duty of every souls.  Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha and Guan Yin didn't procreate.

Let's face it, it is always easier to judge and criticize someone else.  It is always easier to advise someone else.  It is always easier to push the blame to someone else.  Our world, as it is, is filled with a feeling towards hate.  We tend to empower this energy before we learn to love.  Love has been conditioned towards protecting our struggles with anger and frustration.  Love leans on the negative aspects as a result of our psychological defence against threats that hides our essential human vulnerabilities and weaknesses.  When anything or anyone threatens us with the truth of our essential being, the easiest and most common defense available is to think how selfish the attacker/interrogator/intimidator is.

Being selfish is a common human emotion.  We all feel it and we feel it more often than we like to admit.  Our parent, all our brothers and sisters, all our friends and the people around us AND ourselves feel hurt or irritated and will judge another to be selfish when someone or something obstructs their AND our needs or desires.  The psychological process is clear and simple.  If another person hurts us, we just want to hurt him back just as we have been hurt.

When I attended a motivational seminar many years ago, the facilitator asked 'Who should you love and take care first - your parent or yourself?'.  I struggled with my answer.  There I was, in front of many others, had to share it out loud my priority.  I sensed a room filled with judgement.  A room where some felt I was such a selfish son.  An inconsiderate child. 

I chose to think that I should take care of myself first.  It was, and still is, a conviction within me.  It may sound that I am a narcissist, someone who is basically in love with myself, only talk about myself and does not care about anyone else.  In that seminar, that I put my parent second.

Perhaps, I am being selfish to think this way.  Perhaps, this is what selfish is all about.  But what will happen should I ignore about my being, my health, my career and not able to support them in return?  How can I provide them when I am constantly troubled with life?  How can I give love when I do not know how to love myself?  How can I let them to live comfortably when I do not have a good career?  How can I nurse them should we are struck with illnesses at the same time?

It is always remarkable to see a son, or a daughter, care for the parent as though his own needs and desires hardly existed.  I am reminded of the safety airline speech, on board the plane, where we need to put our mask on first before we help with the child.  What if we had put the child's mask on first and we are not able to breathe well enough to take care of ourselves?  My principle is to learn to balance caring for self with caring for others.

It is not to advocate that we should not help those around us and be self-centered.  The core of the oxygen mask is rather that should we become faint from lack of oxygen, we won't be much good to anyone at all.  Speaking for myself, I have found that a certain core of peace and centeredness is necessary before I can really get engaged in promoting a happy, compassionate and peaceful environment.

If I get depressed, it may affect the people around me adversely.  The reverse is also true that when I do what it takes to be happy myself, the people around me reap the benefits.  Emotions, in general, are just plain contagious.

If I look at how I will leave this world alone, on death, being selfish will have a better meaning.  Growing up, I learned the hard way what not taking care of myself can do.  I watched it through the lives of my mum.  And my dad.  And, particularly my late eldest sister.  They sacrificed everything to take care of me and my sisters, give only to others and never themselves.  They worked full time and came home exhausted.

My mum and my dad never did things for themselves, never lived nor pursued their dreams.  Their focus was to make sure that our basic needs were met.  In the case of my late eldest sister, she was not putting the mask on herself and lost all her strength to fight her years with cancer.   When I grew up and realized the missing pieces, I were so resentful and angry.

We cannot give what we do not have.  If I want to give more, serve more, contribute more, build more, create more, I have to be stronger and more vital, have more stamina and vigor.  Only when we secure our own oxygen mask first that we can be more selfless and helpful for everyone else.

I admire, and hold full respect, some of my friends.  In particular, my master.  A man who finds his own strength before he could provide for others.  A man who knows how to say 'No' when he has nothing to offer.  A man who will then give endlessly when his hands are full.

However, being altruistic is not all rainbows.  We may be hit with conscience.  The bottom line is, as long as we remember to stand up for ourselves and take care of ourselves, becoming a more selfless person will help to make the world a better place.





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    I am a certified Master in Traditional USUI REIKI and KARUNA REIKI. I am also a certified practitioner in MAGNIFIED HEALING and INNER DANCE.

    I have been teaching and conducting spirituality, healing and energy works (including Breathing Techniques, Meditation and Spinal Qiqong) for more than two decades.

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