Selfish, Self-aware, Selfless

Selfish, Self-aware, Selfless — it’s not selfish to work on yourself… it’s the only way to shift what isn’t working. It’s essential that we ‘get our noses on our side of the fence,’ do our work, and be real

In This Moment

Our area was threatened with mucho bad weather from the hurricane, and so far, we’ve had an unrelated power outage and a bit of wind. I know friends along the east coast are still in the path, and Dar and I have sent best thoughts. Although this will be going out 2 weeks after the storm, our thoughts continue to be with each of you, as you walk the Pathless Path.

selfish selfless
Many are the excuses for not making necessary shifts — and by necessary I mean useful and beneficial. Here’s where it gets dicey. Necessary to whom? Why, to yourself, of course!
selfish selfless

Self-awareness is my preferred term for “working on yourself.” By this I mean that you are aware both of what you do that holds you back, and are aware of and do what brings you closer to wholeness.

For many, thinking and acting this way pushes a big red button labelled “selfish.”

I listen to all kinds of excuses for not working on “self-awareness.” A big one is that doing this work is viewed as selfish. Clients stuck here object to my insistence that they focus on themselves — that they get their noses on their own side of the fence.

It’s funny. They really aren’t listening to themselves.

They go on and on about the flaws of others — the other person is remote, uncommunicative, shut down, angry, whatever. And then they pontificate at great length about all the things the other person(s) need to do to “get better.”

Then they toss in how difficult it is to be with someone who won’t take their advice.

When I suggest that their job is NOT to fix (or even judge) others, that their job is to work on their own stuff, out comes the,

That’s selfish, and besides, I’m only telling them what to do out of care and compassion!”

They miss that they preach change to others, while adamantly arguing against changing the only thing they can change — their own understandings and behaviour.

It’s not selfish to work on yourself. As a matter of fact, you are the only one you can work on. This may sound odd, but I find dealing elegantly with others is easy when I accept others as they are, and simply work on my responses and reactions.

If I’m upsetting myself, that’s me, upsetting myself. To then shift my focus to the other person, and expect them to change so I don’t have to is not selfish — it’s arrogant.

Self-awareness is a great first step down the Pathless Path.

What I pay attention to is me — my stories, my feelings, my avoidances, my judgements. I look at all of this whack stuff I do, and I own every bit of it. I own that I think it, I do it, I own my game playing and my drama.


By own, I do not mean blame.

Not my genetics, not my partner, not my circumstances. I don’t even blame me. Blame is just a finger, pointing. Accepting means, “Yes indeed, this is me, doing stuff that gets me lousy results.”

After acceptance comes reflection

To reflect is to gaze openly at my choices, to compare who I am and what I am producing with what I desire, and to look for other behaviours that will get me where I want to go.

It’s like driving. I want to get from Waterloo to Guelph. (It’s actually where I am right now.) I got here, to this waiting room, by accepting that I wanted to go here, reflecting on how, (consulting a Google map for the exact location,) and then… wait for it… getting in the car and following the directions! In this case, to drive East on highway 7.

Refection sets the walk in motion

Now, imagine. Most people do this: they decide to go to Guelph. They think they are smart, and have it all figured out. They decide to drive West on highway 7, and end up in Stratford. Of course, they blame everyone else, and the map they never consulted, for their drive.

So, they decide to try again.

They return to Waterloo, then drive West again, thinking that this time, because they really, really want Guelph to be there, it will be. They demand that everyone accept that they are really trying, and accuse all in sundry of being stuck in the belief that Guelph is East of Waterloo.

They end up in Stratford again, yet refuse to question their method. Or, of course, change it.

Now, of course, no one really drives like that (I hope) but many people live like that. They endlessly repeat what doesn’t work, and blame “the car, the roads, or the person who taught them to drive.”

And all that’s necessary is Reflection (reading an accurate map) AND driving in and only in, the direction indicated on the map.

This is self-awareness — where I am at every moment is determined by me, and only me. One way or the other, I got myself here. If I don’t like the “here” I’m in, I need to discover another way of ACTING.

This is not selfish — This is self-responsible.

I think I’ll talk more about selflessness in another article, but I might briefly say that all that this (definitely Buddhist) concept really means is that the action is all that there is. It’s not Ego-Wayne writing, it just the act of writing happening.

I think this is a good definition of living out of passion. The dance between the “person” and the activity shows no division. The writing happens out of a choice to write, without agenda. These are the words my essence wishes to convey. Why? To convey them.

I’ve said that I can’t write a book that people like. I can only write a book. What people “do” with the book is out of my control. What is in my control is the words I use, and that I start it and finish it.

This week, think about whether you are flexible enough to be self-aware, to turn down another road, and to evaluate who and how you are based solely on you. Ask yourself if you are ready to do your work, while letting others do theirs. Ask yourself if you are ready to engage with life fully and with depth, from you.

If so, then get directions as you need to, and start.

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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