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Selfish and Self Responsible

As a compassionate person you value contributing to others. In fact, you might contribute so much to others, that sometimes you find yourself running on empty.
 
In your quest to contribute to others, you may forget to contribute to yourself.  Sometimes this forgetting can mutate into an upside down spiritual ideal in which you separate yourself from all other living beings as the one who does the giving but not the receiving.  This kind of thinking, despite it's hoped for result, could be considered selfish.  It's selfish in the sense that you have entered a kind of thinking that makes you separate from others, i.e., "It's good for others to thrive, but not me."  This is a kind of reverse arrogance – an exaggerated sense of deflation of self rather than inflation. 
 
A more objective definition of selfishness is that it involves behaviors that cost the needs of any living being, including you.  Both arrogance and reverse arrogance will eventually have this result.
 
When you engage in self-responsibility, you consider your needs equally with the needs of others.  Your thriving is as important as the thriving of the living beings that you serve.
 
You might have a critical voice that makes it hard for you to contribute to your own thriving.  For example, you might be sitting down to do a painting and the voice says something like, "Look at you sitting down putting colors on canvas.  Who cares about your little paintings?!  How does this contribute to others?!"
 
This voice is lobbying for your need for purpose, contribution, and, perhaps most deeply, self-acceptance.  You can begin to calm this voice by speaking to it directly with empathy. 
 
For example, you might say, "Hi critic, I hear you and I am guessing you are feeling anxious because you care so much about contributing meaningfully to others.  (Pause here and let yourself feel the depth of your value around contribution and you will likely feel the critic voice relax).  Then offer some reassurance to this anxious critical part of you.  It might sound like this, "Contributing to my own thriving in this way is as meaningful as contributing to others.  I am the same as the beings that I serve." 
 
If you feel resistance rather than relaxation when you remind yourself of this, you might try a more indirect approach that helps you get around the critic's defenses.  Something like this, "Taking some time to paint helps rejuvenate me.  When I nourish myself in this way I can then contribute more fully to others."
 
Taking care of your thriving in a self-responsible way means that you consider your own needs equally with the needs of others.  For example, you look for creative ways that you can have time to be alone and paint and time to help your mom paint her kitchen. 
 
I don't mean to imply that this kind of creativity or access to thriving is easy to come by.  There are all sorts of conditions, both internal and external, that can make it very difficult.  The most important part is simply to stay connected to the valuing of your own needs equally with the needs of others.  The rest will flow from there, sometimes awkwardly with much effort and sometimes gracefully with ease.
 
Practice
Take a moment now and look at your calendar for the coming week.  Notice if your plan for the week includes activities or rest periods that contribute to your own thriving.  Is there anything that you want to change so that you have sense of your own thriving as well as a sense of contribution?

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Sensitivities & The Needs Underneath
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Authenticity and Depression


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