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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Self-first is not selfishness...

I know you may not agree with me off the bat...
well, neither did I until I got some more insight.

I feel very strongly about this because of how "giving" some of us are (P.S. I know the right word may be  generous; but "giving" appeals to me at this time). So let's go on...

Let's start by distinguishing between selffishness and self-lessness and then
zero in on "self-first"...

Selfish means: "looking after own desires: concerned with your own interests, needs, and wishes while ignoring those of others.*"

On the other hand, Selfless means: "thinking of others first: putting other people's needs, interests, or wishes before your own.**"

When you think of these two words as being 2 ends of a spectrum, Self-first sits right in the middle. Any slight move to the right or left can make you self-less, which is preferred since it is a virtue, or selfish - which is a vice and highly discouraged.

To me Self-first means: thinking of yourself so you can think of others...and hopefully take care of their needs, interests or wishes.

You may recognize an instruction similar to this from air travel: In the event that the cabin experiences a sudden loss of pressure, oxygen masks will drop automatically from the panel above your head. Pull one towards you and place the mask over your mouth and nose. Pull the elastic straps to tighten it and breathe normally. If you are traveling with children, make sure that your own mask is on first before helping your children.  The action of pulling the mask starts the flow of oxygen.

This is an instruction not a suggestion and for good reason. If you pass out, how can you help any other person? Is that a classic example of the fact that "self-first is not selfishness" or what?!

I've said it time and again and will continue to say:
You cannot give what you do not have.
You need to think of yourself e.g. invest in yourself so you have have something of value to give or share with another person or organisation.

Let's also think of the basic challenge - finding time to rest. A lot of us encourage others to rest, take care of themselves etc. and yet we don't do half of that for ourselves. In running around to make sure everything is in order, if you don't rest, take care of yourself or even take the time to go for, at least, an annual physical check-up and of course a daily spiritual check-up, you won't be around much longer to "give" to others.

It saddens me to think about it - look around, you may have also noticed that there are some health care professionals who fall victim of the very ailments they help others through. How is that possible? Maybe in being self-less, they looked out for others without looking out for themselves. There needs to be a balance for all our lives to be meaningful.

The Bible instructs us clearly in Mark 12:31a "The second most important commandment says: `Love others as much as you love yourself.'" It goes without saying that God expects us to love ourselves first and then love others self-lessly. If you learn and know how to love yourself, loving others will be easier. Just be careful not to tip the scale from self-first to selfishness.



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