“You are so SELFISH!”
This particular invective has so much power, people (especially women) arrange their entire lives around making sure that others won’t ever say it–or even think it–about them. They stay as far away from “selfish” as they can, flipping them to the other pole, being “selfless.” Surely that’s better, right? To walk through the world with no regard for self, to put one’s focus completely on how to be in service, to give up on self?
In my practice, I see many examples of the tattered aftermath of the “selfless” strategy. Depression. Anxiety. Lives without passion or direction. Relationships where the relentless “Whatever you want, dear…” turns into disconnection and resentment. And ultimately, affairs and the desperate pronouncement “I need to leave! I HAVE to find myself!”
I imagine a dial. On one side is “selfish.” My definition of selfish is “having no regard for others.” On the other side of the dial is “selfless,” which, for me, meanst “having no regard for self.” In other words, both selfish and selfless lead to a yawning gap in working out how to really be in the world in a connected, authentic way.
Here’s a new possibility. How about being “selfull?” (This word was coined by Mary Tebbs, in a Life Alignment Program call where we were talking about this.) Selfullness allows for self and connection, regard for me and for you and for that wonderful area of new possibility, discovery, and innovation: cocreativity. Where we can both get everything we want.
Here’s how I see this:
I invite you to use this gauge as a tool to keep track of where you are in your own life. In the interactions you’re having with others, where does your needle point? Are you having regard for yourself, for how you feel, what you really want? Are you creating space for others, for their full expression of emotions and desires? Is there enough room for you and them to be in that vast middle space of “selfull”, where everyone’s Creative Brains can be invoked to answer the fascinating question: How do we all get everything we want?