Being in unhealthy survival mode instead of thriving as a human is selfish (it has to be) because we’re doing all we can to make it one more day for food, shelter, safety, our family, etc. Once we get out of survival mode, we shift into that giving space once again.
You are not a problem to be fixed. You are a delightful soul and human being.
The other thing I found interesting during my research on the word selfish and its origins… is it is riddled with masculine energy for those who have written and spoken about it… and not in a good way.
Healthy selfishness is about self care, self appreciation, self esteem and self love… and taking care of your needs and requirements in your life, work, and relationships, but not primarily or constantly or consistently.
Unhealthy selfishness is only caring about yourself without consideration of others, lacking empathy, compassion, kindness, and care for others primarily or constantly.
With the law of polarity, selfishness and people pleasing – put the 2 together, and you get a healthy functioning human. You ensure you are self-caring and you also are a giver and people pleaser in a healthy harmonic balance.
But… because the materialistic world needs problems to be fixed for profit… the focus becomes on just one or the other which creates a whole industry of solutions for profit. But what results is more damaging with the labels that don’t consider the whole person, just some behaviors they exhibit at times or frequently.
When we call someone selfish – are we saying they are 100% selfish?
No, we’re not. We’re saying their choice or behavior in one specific situation or example is selfish.
So let’s be honoring of that – with our words… instead of making grandiose claims about the whole being of a person, point to the example or situation… and say I think that is a selfish way of looking at it or behaving or thinking.
We’re taught to be altruistic and think about others… their family, community, etc. in their lives when we’re very young. And when we don’t look out for our fellow student or sibling or do what our parents tell us to… we can be called selfish. It is a damaging label and accusation.
But are they 100% selfish 100% of the time.
And the bottom line… is this… those accusations are lobbed because at the core of the issue are 3 things:
- We are not wired the same way – we don’t think, act, feel, and behave exactly the same way or see the situation the same way – each person in the relationship is a unique being… and each person has free will to choose. Those differences create misunderstanding. Consequently, if one person cannot accept that another does not see or do it the way they see and do it, then it is considered selfish
- Wanting another person to do what you say or want or demand
- Wanting to control what another person does or says to benefit themselves solely
Let me be clear… when you are called selfish and you are a giver, people pleaser, helper, or service oriented, it usually means that you’re not doing what that person wants… you are not serving their needs or requests or demands. That is when the giving and taking relationship becomes manipulative or controlling. The harmonic balance is unsettled.
Let’s call it for what it is… people who call other people selfish are not getting what they want, demand, or request from that person. That’s what it is about.
When we look at human behavior regardless of the year or generation, once a human is in survival mode, it is self-preservation mode. And it is designed to be self-focused.
We have to know and be clear about our own needs so that we can manage and handle them.
I also want to point out that…
When a people pleaser or giver accuses someone of being selfish… it’s because we don’t understand why that person cannot see, think, feel or do what we would do… the kind, compassionate, feeling rich, honoring, and caring thing. We get triggered when others don’t do what we would do to be kind or compassionate to others. We set ourselves up for an upset… because many people are not givers, helpers, or people pleasers 100% of the time… and we all express giving in our unique ways…
Which creates problems to be fixed. And that cycle goes on and on.
Here’s what unbounded spirit says about the anthropological roots of selfishness: “Looking at “Before the Neolithic Revolution — that is, the wide-scale transition of many human cultures from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement that took place some 12,000 years ago — humans lived mostly in nomadic, hunter-gatherer groups of up to 150 members.
Back then, the world was sparsely populated, food was abundant… it seems unlikely that they would fight against each other for resources, or for any other reason really. …this doesn’t mean that they never did fight, but it does suggest that, generally speaking, they peacefully coexisted, without the need for competition and organized violence. The case that prehistoric humans lived mostly at peace is also supported by anthropological research. Anthropologists who lived with and studied closely some of the world’s few remaining “immediate-return” hunter-gatherer groups — meaning, groups that don’t store food, but consume it soon after obtaining it, as prehistoric humans did — have found them to be highly egalitarian.
Such groups don’t accumulate property or possessions, they share resources, and have no hierarchical power structure. In such a social environment, humans don’t feel the need or desire to compete against or oppress each other. And when they do — which does happen, albeit rarely — the rest of the group fights against them or ostracizes them. As you might imagine, this defense mechanism makes it even less likely that someone would want to compete against or oppress other members of the group, for doing so would mean risking their very life.
It doesn’t make sense that selfishness would have given humans an evolutionary advantage. Quite the contrary, altruism would. Helping, collaborating and sharing resources seems to have been the best way to keep oneself alive and safe. So, if that’s the case, then what could explain for the selfishness that pervades modern society? Well, to answer this question, we need to go back in time again and look at the conditions that turned humans selfish. As humans were settling in agricultural societies, they gradually started to behave very differently compared to hunter-gatherers. They began to privately own land (which, by the way, was inconceivable to hunter-gatherers, who saw the land as a sacred gift of nature to be shared by all), as well as animals and other resources. This, as you can understand, led to social and economic disparities between humans. Resources weren’t enough for everyone anymore, as they used to be until that point in time. Naturally, thrown into an increasing environment of scarcity, humans felt more and more compelled to act selfishly in order to survive and gain a competitive advantage.
Fast-forward a few thousand years and the same competitive ethic exists to this day — and arguably more than ever before. Modern humans — that is, humans like me and you — live in conditions of scarcity, where nearly everyone is forced to compete for money and resources. In this world, we’re taught from a very young age that there are winners and losers — and that if we want to be on the winners’ side, we need to be very competitive. Only this way, we’re conditioned to believe, can we find success in life. Add to this our materialistic culture wherein people are judged based on their possessions, and it becomes crystal clear why humans today behave mostly in selfish ways.
Of course, that doesn’t mean humans are inherently selfish, since as we’ve seen, for nearly the entire span of human history they had been mostly altruistic. Human nature is extremely malleable, and the environmental conditions humans live in largely shape how it’s expressed. Place people in a competitive environment, and they’ll most likely act selfishly. Place them in a collaborative one, and they’ll most likely act altruistically. Put differently, within each human lie two potential psychological aspects — a “selfish” and an “altruistic” one — and the side that becomes manifested is the one we cultivate through the environment we live in. It is in our hands, therefore, to design a social environment that helps us to develop the behavioral traits we want to see in ourselves and others, rather than those we don’t want.”
For me… the bottom line… the core issue… the core concern… is a lack of self-love, self-appreciation, and self-awareness in addition to scarcity mindsets that get generated in a world of competitiveness. Creating problems to fix with products and services for profit.
Scott Barry Kaufman says this in his article on the taboo of selfishness: “Unhealthy selfishness is motivated by neuroticism and greed. For this person, his needs are insatiable, and he rarely receives any long-lasting satisfaction. When we look closely at people who are motivated by unhealthy selfishness, we see that that they do not really love themselves deep down, that that they do not have inner security and affirmation… the person with this form of selfishness is only interested in oneself, wants everything for oneself, is unable to give with any pleasure but is only anxious to take; the world outside himself is conceived only from the standpoint of what he can get out of it; he lacks interest in the needs of others, or respect for their dignity and integrity. He sees only himself, judges everyone and everything from the standpoint of its usefulness to him, is basically unable to love.
In today’s society, we are seriously lacking in self-love. If we want more peace, we need to think more seriously about creating the conditions that allow people to develop their unique intellectual, creative, and emotional capacities, the freedom to assert the totality of their being, and the opportunities to satisfy their basic needs. This will lead to a reduction in hatred, and a reduction in the drive to destruction– both to self and others.”