Monday, January 16, 2017

The Twofold Attack of Self-Centeredness

You know, a lot of times we as human beings are self-centered. Nearly all of us are, actually.

So often when we think of self-centeredness, we immediately think of pride - having an unrealistically high opinion of ourselves. But when we really dig down into it, that's not the only form of self-centeredness. And oftentimes not realizing this can lead us into a trap of self-pity and depression.

I remember when I was about... seven, I started to drift away from the crowd. I became somewhat of a loner, not really feeling connected, not feeling appreciated, and not feeling accepted. I wanted to be liked, I wanted to be valued by my peers, and I wanted to be respected for who I was.

So in the years that followed, I kept trying to do whatever I could to earn that acceptance. I worked hard to be liked. And when I wasn't... I blamed others. I thought to myself...

Everyone else is cool, why can't I be?
Real friends include each other - they must not be real friends to me.
If only they cared.
I deserve some kind of attention.
I need some kind of appreciation. Is that too much to ask?

For years, this was me. At my core was one thought, one priority: me.

I look around me today and sadly, I see that same self-focus in so many people all around me. In one form or another, the majority of people are just so focused on the idea of... me.

There's a joke I heard once that said, "Nowadays, our socirty is so self-centered, even the "Wii" has two 'I"s!'" Haha. Sad, but true.

It took me forever to get out of that mindset in my life. You want to know what finally broke me out of it?

The realization that I wasn't the only one frustrated about life. I wasn't the only one looking for a friend. I wasn't the only one hiding my insecurities. I wasn't the only one who didn't have all the answers. I wasn't the only one who didn't have it all together. I wasn't the only one waiting for someone else to make the first move.

That's when I realized that it wasn't about me. It finally clicked with me that I shouldn't be blaming others when so many of us were in the same boat. It was as if we were all in a big canoe, each holding paddles, getting angry that no one else was rowing. Every one of us had the potential to step out and welcome that new friend. Each of us had countless opportunities to help others.

The problem was, so many of us were afraid to stick our necks out, because we're afraid of rejection. We want someone else to do the hard work, while we just sit back and do the easy part. After all, there's no risk in that!

But if we think about it, that's just self-centeredness once again.

If we really aren't focused on ourselves, but on others, then how they react really won't matter to us. It's not going to traumatize us if they laugh in our face. Instead, we'll just shrug our shoulders and try and find someone else to help.

You see, that's the key. When you feel lonely, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, or try to act cool around the already established crowd, try to find someone else in your situation - or someone in a worse situation. Do to them what you wish other people would have done for you.

And you know what?

You'll make friends.
You'll help people.
You'll change lives.
You'll serve God.

So when it all comes down to it, that's my challenge for you: rather then focus on yourself, do everything you can to focus on others going through similar circumstances. See what happens.

I believe things will start to change in your life - for the better.

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