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Archive for June, 2010

One of the most recurrent themes I encounter in working with clients is the inability to truly distinguish between selfishness and self-directed approaches to daily living.  Those who struggle to identify either their actions or their attitudes as being in the service of selfish desires or genuine needs can often struggle with a burdensome sense of guilt, confusion and shame.  Persistent feelings of this nature can, in turn, contribute to depressed moods, agitation and a tendency to compromise one’s own personal values.  I have found that people who confuse self care with “selfishness” were often indoctrinated into a family culture that, itself, was confused.  Remember, selfishness is nothing more than an opinion, a judgment.  When such an opinion, for example,  is rendered with persistence upon a child, he or she eventually will internalize this judgment and then use it as a template.  Unfortunately, if this template is relied upon too heavily, then he or she will be burdened and confused.  Sometimes, a person’s desires become so compromised that they become terribly inhibited and avoidant,  as if feeling that they might be on the precipice of a “selfish” act.  For some, this can be terribly debilitating and contribute to poor self-esteem.  For others, a ricochet effect is noted and they become terribly rebellious in their behaviors as if to assume that the judgment of selfishness has already been rendered and that there is no use in trying to be empathic and conscientious.  In either case, relationship troubles will likely ensue.  Before casting judgment on yourself or others, it is best to try to determine what are the reasons or context for decision made.  Perhaps what might look like a selfish act might be a healthy act of self care.

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