We all have limiting beliefs, and this is one that I’ve had to remove from my life. Self-improvement is not selfish. Focusing on myself is not something I’ll ever feel guilty about, ever again. Modern religions and institutions teach self-sacrifice and that we must put ourselves before others. Any other behaviour is selfish, self-centered, narcissistic, and a variety of other guilt-inducing vocabulary words. This is plain bullshit.
Anyone who has ever flown in an airplane or actually listened to an emergency PSA or has ever helped in disaster relief knows that you must place the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others. This is because you cannot help others, if you, yourself, are dead.
This includes being dead emotionally as well. Can you really help someone else, if you are a shell of a human being? Are you really a valuable member of society, if you spend your time worrying about what everyone else is doing and not taking care of yourself?
It is our individual responsibility to take care for ourselves and be happy. Talk to any parents. They will likely tell you that one of their biggest fears is to leave their children on this planet without knowing that they gave them the skills and knowledge required to live an independent and fulfilling life. Since parents are also human and learning things all the time, they continually want to impart that wisdom – for better or worse. The only other fear that I can think of that would be far greater than this one is for a parent to survive his child. Then again, I’m not a parent yet.
Self-improvement is not selfish.
Have you ever thought about what actually comprises you? Our human bodies are made up of roughly 37.2 trillion cells. That’s not including the 40 trillion bacteria that live in your microbiome (i.e. a fancy word for your gut).
If you consider a cell a living organism, then that’s a whole lot of cells that rely on you for LIFE. If you don’t care for yourself, these organisms would die. Maybe these living cells might not be as important to you. However, these same living cells are what actually makes you human.
Another key point is that there is a natural balance in life. Sometimes, we need help. That’s why we have family and friends and mentors. The weak rely on the strong; and the strong rely on the weak. It’s a natural, symbiotic relationship, not a one way street.
It feels good to help others when you are on the top of your game. Similarly, having strong loved ones who support you in your times of need also feels good. Times of need also include physical, emotional, or even spiritual issues. It’s a cycle.
I am forever grateful to have such amazing and inspiring individuals that both nourish and support me, whom I nourish and support as well.
Happiness is contagious
It’s our job on this planet to be happy and to spread that happiness. I had a teacher who told me that his reason for practicing yoga every day was because it made him less miserable to be around. This is a service to humanity, because he is responsible for not being a miserable person. He found something that he loves doing that also makes him less of a jerk in his day to day life. Being fulfilled and happy makes it easier to spread joy.
Happiness is contagious.
Being a martyr is more selfish than working on yourself.
If you are focusing on everyone else and also sacrificing yourself for others too often, then you run the risk of becoming ungrateful, demanding, jealous, angry, confused, and, yes, selfish. You can also get drain your life and mind with negative thoughts and a ‘why me’ attitude and lose sight of all the positives around you.
Being a martyr is also a curiosity killer. Curiosity is what helps us learn and figure out solutions. It allows us to be creative and innovate. Staying curious drives humanity forward and even saves relationships. Have you ever stopped to ask your partner why it is so important for him to watch every single football game? Or why it is so important for her to spend hours chatting on the phone?
Perhaps you’ve been upset and actually wanted to hurt someone or maybe you did hurt someone. Did you ever stop and ask yourself why you had this feeling? Or try to find the root or the cause within yourself? This is self-improvement, learning how you function so that you can be a better human.
The world needs you to shine.
We live in 2017, and being a martyr is an medieval system that no longer serves humanity. The world needs your big, beautiful brain and body to be nourished and to thrive. We need you to stay curious and cultivate creativity so that you can innovate new was to save the world, the planet, and many more lives – human and other. This is our gift as humans. It is your responsibility to discover, to take care of yourself, to be a bit “self-ish.” As this improves your life, you can assuredly improve the lives of others around you.
We are all children and parents, and we all enjoy imparting interesting and useful information to our friends, loved ones, and society as a whole. Adopt a belief that self-improvement is not selfish. Then strap on that oxygen mask, and do it damn fast so that you can save the breath of another fellow human.