I am a selfish person. This took me many, many years to finally and freely admit, but it’s true. It’s partially because of my personality, and partially because of my anxiety. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t really matter – selfishness is selfishness. And it’s a relationship killer. It’s destructive. I hate it.
You know who else hates my selfishness? My fiancé (F.). My friends. My cousins. My parents. My brother. God. Literally, no one benefits from it except for me. Basically, that’s the definition of the thing. A few weeks ago, F. and I had a very serious conversation. He confronted me about how I consistently act selfishly and how it’s seriously hurting our relationship, and my relationship with God, and my relationship with basically everyone. Man – was that hard pill to swallow.
To be honest, I didn’t take it well. I reacted very…well…selfishly. I got angry, I didn’t want to accept it, and I became very emotional. But F., being the patient guy he is, waited for me to get over it and after about two hours of arguing and crying, I finally accepted it.
He was right.
I am selfish.
If you are a chronic sufferer of anxiety, you may have become selfish too. I realized a REALLY big part of my selfishness stemmed from fear. Here are a few examples:
One of my good friends is suffering from a really horrible setback in her anxiety/depression. She asks me to come over, but it’s late at night. I’m afraid to drive late at night so I tell her I can’t.
F. wants to try a new restaurant. I’m afraid of trying new foods because of my emetophobia. I tell him it’s not going to happen without even thinking about his feelings.
My parents ask me to run an errand. I’m having a panic attack so I tell them I can’t. They tell me I’m fine and I should go anyway. I yell at them because my anxiety is running high.
I could honestly go on and on and on and on, but you get the idea. I have lived my entire life in fear. I have lived my entire life trying to avoid situations that make me anxious at the cost of other people’s happiness.
Anxiety is not an excuse to be selfish. I refuse to live like this anymore. I want people to enjoy being around me. I don’t want my friends and family to think I only care about myself or getting my way. I want to do things for the people I care about. I want them to see how much I love and appreciate them through my actions and ability to say: “even though this is not what I want, I will do it for you.”
When F. and I first had this conversation, after I stopped crying and feeling sorry for myself, he suggested I keep a “selflessness journal.” So now, along with my devotionals, every single night I write in this journal. I write at least ONE thing I did for someone else today. I know it sounds silly, but having that journal keeps me accountable. I know that I HAVE to have at least one thing to write down at the end of the day – and if I don’t, that’s gonna look pretty bad when F. reads it at the end of all this. One thing a day, yeah, it may sound like a piece of cake. But for the extremely selfish like myself, it’s not easy. And it’s also still not easy to admit how selfish I’ve been. No one wants to talk about how crappy a person they are.
But let’s be real. We are all crappy people. Maybe you’re not selfish, but I’m sure you have some other crap to deal with. And if you are selfish, I hope this helped you feel less crappy and inspired you to change.
Because the people in your life, the people you care about, are worth changing for. And even if they aren’t, God calls us to be selfless and to serve.
“But she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.”
-1 Timothy 5:6