Then, once my ego stopped having an internal temper tantrum, I was able to stop and listen. Really listen. Not just to the words, but to the essence behind the words. (He didn’t actually say SELFISH, but that is what I heard…)
Here is what he was really saying:
All of us are operating to fulfill our universal needs, either consciously or unconsciously, so all actions that we take, all actions we don’t take, all words we say, and all words we don’t say, are fulfilling a need within us. Most of the time we don’t even know what needs we are fulfilling, but that doesn’t stop us from fulfilling them.
For me that means that everything that I do is really about ME. Even the things I do for other people, are really about ME.
The workshop facilitator called it SELF-FULL, rather than SELFISH, though.
The distinction he made between the two was that SELF-FULL is about working to fulfill our needs in a variety of creative ways, and SELFISH is when we become overly attached to one method of fulfilling those needs.
Here are some examples of how I how I fulfill my needs without really knowing that I am fulfilling my needs:
>> When I am coaching my clients, it isn’t only about them because I am also rewarded by fulfilling my need for meaning and connection.
>> When I am stubbornly attached to “my way is the only way” it isn’t that I am being a bitch, I am fulfilling my need for power and significance.
>> When I am hiding under a rock, pretending that there is no conflict, I am fulfilling my need for peace and harmony.
>> When I get short with my daughter because she is being a little brat, I am tragically trying to fulfill my need for mutual respect and calm. (It usually backfires, though…)
This idea of being SELF-FULL was a big breakthrough for me, especially when it comes to conflict--both internal and external.
First of all, I am better able to let go of prolonged guilt and a tendency to beat myself up when I do something “wrong.” Instead of thinking of my “mistakes,” I can see them as tragic ways that I was fulfilling a need, and then I can create alternative ways to fulfill the need in the future. (After I clean up any mess I made…)
Secondly, I am able to see other people’s behavior in a different way. I can see that they are also trying to fulfill one of their own needs in a way that doesn’t work for me. The numerous names that I want to call them, more easily drop out of my head, and I can see them as a flawed human being who is doing the best they can.
If you are currently in conflict, how can this idea of Selfish or Self-full contribute to a resolution?