Self-Compassion For Selfishness

Decoding Selfishness Through Self-Compassion

One of the great values of self-compassion is that it helps us gain a complete understanding of something.  It frees us from our subjective perceptions, our desires, our perspectives, our need to be right.  Selfishness is a good example of a commonly misunderstood idea.  Most people believe that people enacting selfish behavior have more than enough, and are greedily clamoring or clawing for more.  Physiology disputes this claim.  Think of the last time that you tried to grab as much of something as you could for yourself.  Notice the coexisting feelings in your body: increased heart rate, shallow breathing, rapid thoughts. 

This sounds a lot like anxiety, right?  Now, imagine prolonging this feeling, and how this effort would affect your body, and your mind.  Some of you are thinking, “It serves them right.  Finally their actions are causing them suffering.”  Aside from the fact that is not very self-compassionate, take a second look at that experience.  Clawing and clamoring are efforts wrought by a desperate person.

Opening Up The Space to Bring Self-Compassion To Selfishness

Using our self-compassion analysis, we see that selfishness comes from a sort of desperation, and we can all relate to how painful desperation is both as an internal experience, but also as an external experience that exposes us to judgment, humiliation, and disdain.  Despite our initial misgivings about selfishness, how can we now not look at these behaviors with self-compassion?

It is clear that someone, who is already suffering is taking on a behavior that will only cause them more suffering, and because they lack this insight, this eventual understanding may cause considerable shame and guilt.  We all behave selfishly, sometimes.  Can we not create enough space to understand the selfish behaviors of others, so that the same understanding is available to us, when we act selfishly?  I hope that we can.

4 Easy Steps From Selfishness To Self-Compassion

So, let’s look at the steps to moving from the experience of selfishness, our own or the selfishness of another, to self-compassion. 

Step one, identify that it is selfishness that you are witnessing, and notice with a kind awareness of how this experience is manifesting in your body, in your thoughts, and in your affective experience. 

Step two, soften around the physically tense parts, and honor your thoughts, and feelings, rather than chasing them away.

Step three, acknowledge how you have come by this experience naturally, and how it is a response to a desire to escape suffering.  Remember how our universal wish is to avoid or at least be free of suffering. 

Step four, ask yourself how you can be kind to yourself in this very moment.  Presto mundo, the selfishness has been exorcised!  Well, perhaps not exorcised, but processed in a way that helps you feel more at home in your body, and in the world.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 224.  In The Books.