Be Self-Centered: needs and barriers part 2

There is ultimately only one way to address our internal emptiness and the emotional neediness, insecurities and barriers they create. We have to develop the ability to be good to ourselves. This gives us the strength and courage to break out from being dependent on others, to face our negative emotions, and to start moving our lives in a positive direction.

Furthermore, we have to be good to ourselves for nobody else but ourselves, becoming totally self-centered. To do otherwise is selfish. Selfishly attempting to influence the external world. Controlling and manipulating others to please us. Or, controlling and manipulating ourselves to please others. What’s the difference?

Is it selfless and commendable to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others? By striving to please others we do all sorts of things that leave us more and more frustrated, stressed, and emotionally drained.

We pretend to be someone we’re not, acting how we think people want, taking on extra work, and doing things we don’t enjoy. Gradually forsaking our true self, even to the point of giving up on our wants and dreams. And for what? Fools gold.

By not giving to and fulfilling ourselves, we foster a need to seek fulfillment externally. Usually centered around the approval of others… and money, drugs, work, food (insert your coping mechanism here). We’re addicted to it.

Look at how much time and energy we put into things like social media, how we dress, or even dedicating years toward an education or job that we don’t really care for. The difference between us is only in who we’re trying to impress (parents, peers, potential mates, all of the above, etc.) and the extent we’re willing to go.

But if these people cared about us, then they would want us to pursue what was genuinely positive and fulfilling for us. And deep down, that’s what we all want for each other.

Why let the superficial attachments of others, born of their own needs and insecurities, make us miserable? Few would disagree that we should always pursue our dreams and strive to be more self-fulfilled.

Here’s the snag. Our true feelings and desires (which are real and positive) are often hidden. They are buried deep within us, covered up by the garbage we’ve bought into about who and what we are supposed to be (ideas we got by trying to please the external world). So even as we try to do what’s best for us, it ain’t necessarily so.

Nothing we do is good unless the motivation behind it is good. No matter how difficult some of our accomplishments may be (extreme exercise, years of advanced schooling, even “spiritual” things like serving on missions), chances are that we’re still secretly looking for that fix from the outside (approval, money, etc.).

The more difficult the accomplishments, the more we can rationalize how great we are. If we don’t feel great, well… that’s just negative thinking. Of course we feel great! We have to right? I mean, look at all the hard work and wonderful things we’ve done! But unfortunately we’re still playing the game of barriers, performing to get the results we think we want.

And what is the result? We truly reap what we sow, because the reward for external pursuits is external returns. Some form of external recognition. We can’t seem to impress ourselves, but we sure can impress others.

Which may seem exciting at first, but it’s like a picture of food for the starving. Unfulfilling. No good in the real world of our emotions. And the better we are at getting that reward, the more empty it all feels.

What then? Maybe we should be good to ourselves by accepting who and what we are, instead of trying to conform to some unrealistic idea of how we’re supposed to be. Without a doubt.

As long as it doesn’t leave us mired in complacency, “accepting” who we are to the point of making no effort at self-improvement. Sanctifying our less than good qualities with a “that’s just how I am.”

We probably don’t realize when we’re doing it, because it sounds positive to “accept oneself.” It is. But when that includes our unreal garbage, we end up rejecting the true self, and excluding happiness. Giving up on the hope of a truly fulfilling life, and instead waiting/seeking for something external to do it for us.

And self-acceptance takes more than some affirmations and good intentions. It is not being cheerful. It is not being comfortable. Your garbage will knock you down and drag you through the mud, over and over again. It’s a battle.

We have to fight with ourselves, for ourselves. Being determined to resolve the junk that is blocking us from experiencing our real self. Then, only as we come in touch with our real self can we begin to enjoy the peace of self-acceptance.

Sound easy? Remember, no matter what we do, whether it’s an attempt at self-improvement or accepting who we are, it always runs the risk of being yet another barrier, where we’re really just acting out the way we think we ought to be.

So how do we know? How do we navigate through all this to a positive path that is genuinely fulfilling?  

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6 Comments on “Be Self-Centered: needs and barriers part 2”

  1. Ryan Nurmela Says:

    Extremely well said. It seems like there’s more posts like this, that haven’t been posted.

    • Matt Says:

      Well, I do have a lot of posts in progress. I need to both loosen up my need for perfecting them, and kick myself in the butt to do it. I’ve also been overly conflicted about my purpose in these posts. So I also need to poop or get off the pot.

  2. Nartana Says:

    Hi Matt!

    Just wanted to say I really enjoyed reading through your blog…you’ve put so much thought and self-reflection into every sentence.

    I just returned from Japan (did I tell you I lived there for a while?). Have recently been reading up on Zazen….

    Hope you are well. 🙂

    Nartana

    • Matt Says:

      Hey Nartana. Good to hear from you. Mentioning Zazen reminds me of the main point of my next post (pt. 3 of needs and barriers): learning to feel how we feel. I’m no expert on Zazen, but according to me that’s what it should be all about. Meditators can get so wrapped up in clearing their minds of garbage and clutter, that they miss the whole point of doing so. So what do you get? Emotionally distant space cadets. I should know, I’ve been there. 🙂

  3. alligramz Says:

    Love your work, Matt! Thank you for sharing what You are learning.


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