The Art of Being Selfish; aka; How to Save and Live Your Life!

We are so used to being inundated and indoctrinated with societal norms, religious teachings, governmental regulations, and peer pressure that it is difficult to even remember who we are and what we really think and believe in.    There is a song by Super Tramp, I think it’s called the “Logical Song”, which asks, “Will someone please tell me who I really am?!”

In childhood we are programmed to…Do The Right Thing, which consists of a set of rules imposed upon us by our most of the time, well-meaning parents:  Respect Your Elders (even if these elders have never done one single thing to earn anyone’s respect; Share Your Toys; only to get punished for not taking care of your toys when someone with whom you have shared the damn toy smashes it into a million pieces (It’s a wonder there aren’t more children in psyche wards); Children Should Be Seen and not Heard: the implication here is that your voice, your opinion, much less your values; are of no interest to anyone and that you should be kept silent IF you want to be allowed to stay around; Big Boys Don’t Cry and Don’t Express Emotion; (that way they can grow up to be cold, heartless, control freaks just like their daddies or mommy’s; Don’t Talk Back; even if some adult is blatantly wrong and on an ego trip or a bully taking advantage of a little kid.  As a child, you were subjected to the same unhappy, rule-laden, fulfillment deprived and dreadful lives that your parents and society in general, were living.  And yet, they passed these same restrictions and limitations onto YOU, their child.  WHY? Because it was all they knew, that’s the way their parents raised them,…they didn’t know any better!

Little girls were taught to be submissive and “make nice” while little boys were taught to “take it like a man”!  Now, as women these” little girls” are being exploited, taken advantage of and abused by the very people who profess to care about them or even love them; friends, colleagues and lovers all join in the fray…after all if you don’t respect yourself enough to take care of yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to.

I worked for a major Police Department in the Metro Denver area as the Director of the Victim Services Unit and witnessed so many women being physically, emotionally and mentally abused because they “made nice”…they would never say “No” (it’s not what you’re thinking) and hurt someone’s feelings.  If they felt uncomfortable getting into an elevator with a strange man but didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings – they just got in; after all, it was probably just their imagination (they had always been high strung anyway) and so many, many times these women were beaten, raped or even killed…just because they didn’t want to hurt someone elses feelings.

A kind “gentleman” offers to carry their many bags of groceries up the stairs for them.  Although they said “NO” repeatedly, this kind individual insisted and ended up in their apartment, on top of them with a knife held to their throat!  If someone doesn’t respect you enough to listen to and honor your wishes – you are NOT obligated to “make nice”!  You say NO once and if they can’t honor that, it is up to you to stand your ground; scream, holler in front of others….YES, make a scene, l’d kick them in the nuts…who cares what others think, your life may very well be at stake here!  Do whatever you need to do!

I used to provide, free of charge, personal protection classes primarily to women; nurses, college students etc.  It was amazing to me how these young women could not even begin to comprehend harming another to save their own lives…college students would tell me that the security guards would protect them – not knowing that the security guards were the ones who were raping them!    Or, once a young nurse told me that she was trained to save lives, not take them.  She just couldn’t grasp the fact that if she allowed a serial killer to kill her, he would then go on and kill many others just like her.  If she stopped him, she would not only be saving her own precious life but probably the lives of the many woman he would gave gone on to kill!

The men are “macho”, they can handle anything – after all, they’re MEN…even when they’re dying of heart attacks and suffering from ulcers and PTSD because…well; that’s what REAL MEN do!  I was on a Critical Incident Debriefing Team that debriefed service providers; police officers, fireman, paramedics, etc., etc.  I watched and listened as these men tried so valiantly to maintain their composure while they described in gruesome detail the incidents that had brought them to me.  Firemen. who while sticking their forks into the debris of a building now burned to the ground, had inadvertently plunged their forks into the body of a two month old infant; train conductors who had been involved in a suicide by train incident where they made eye contact with a young girl as her body hurled onto the glass of the train they were operating; police officers who were dispatched to the scene after being told that the victim was a 34 year old male only to find a three year old male who’s head fell off and rolled to the ground when they arrived at the scene.  These were all horrific experiences to endure but through it all these men tried valiantly, but most of the time unsuccessfully to “take it like a man” because that’s what society “expected” from them!


All  those ideas, values and stupid rules that were imposed upon you were not even yours!  You didn’t know better at the time….but….NOW YOU DO!!!

Taking care of yourselves and your needs, your dreams and desires is ESSENTIAL for your survival.  In psychology, we call lit “Enlightened Selfishness.”  When you are flying somewhere (I’m referring to actually flying…you know, like in an airplane!) the Flight Attendants tell you to put the air mask on yourself first.  If you try to help your small child first, or your fragile mother and you become unconscious, you will absolutely not only NOT be in a position to help anyone else but you will not be able to even help yourself!  Furthermore, if you become disabled, you are going to infringe on someone else’s time to assist you.  We try so valiantly to be of service to others but often we are actually providing a disservice to them; possibly even enabling them and thus preventing them from learning their own lessons and reaching their own fulfillment.

While we are not on this beautiful planet solely to meet our selfish needs; we are here to take care of ourselves, to enjoy our lives and to be satisfied…we are not here to live a life of fasting and prayer, nor are we here to deprive ourselves of a life that is our birthright.  We have EVERYTHING we need and, yet, we throw it away it away because we struggle so hard to “Do The Right Thing”…Right in whose mind?  Certainly not the Creators!

Integrity is viewed as something that we apply to others.  Real integrity is about being true to yourself; saying “NO” when something doesn’t feel right and not allowing others to disrespect or take advantage of you.

If we don’t treat ourselves with compassion, love and charity…how can we ever expect to apply those same principles to someone else?  An empty vessel cannot provide ANYTHING to ANYONE!

Who was it that said, To Thine Own Self Be True?”  It’s a FACT, when you’re true to yourself’ your own values, your beliefs, your dreams and your own life; everything goes so much smoother!

REMEMBER:  To Thine Own Self, Always Be true!