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Selfish or Self-absorbed?

November 8, 2012

Many people say, “I think there is some good in all of us”.

I’m never sure what they mean by that. I think it is a wish that even though we see tragic living and unhealthy decisions, there is still a chance that even a sociopath can get it right occasionally. I would love to believe this sentiment also.

Unfortunately, history and experience tell me that many people are just plain rotten to the core. Read about Darfur, Iraq, the slaughter of Native American women and children at Grand Junction Colorado, the Rape of Nanking by the Japanese soldiers in World War 2 – or just about any evening paper – will confirm what I’m saying.

What may be more accurate is to say that all of us have some evil in us.

There are many who suggest that all our ways are perverted and even when we do something right it is for the wrong reasons. I don’t think history and experience can back that up either. I have seen inexplicable moments when truly evil people have done things that cannot be explained by selfishness or malignant motives.

Here’s what I think is going on: We all have a problem with occasionally seeing ourselves as the central focus of the universe. And from what I can tell, it will usually get expressed in our lives (in those awful moments we wouldn’t want recorded in Heaven) in one of two ways:

Selfishness, or

Self-absorption.

I define selfishness as an innate desire to achieve what you want instead of what others want.

I see self-absorption as an inability to understand what others want or what they need.

To see this more clearly, let’s draw up a chart of some of the characteristics of each:

Selfish: Self-Absorbed
Tends to be an extravert Tends to be an introvert
Does not want others to win Doesn’t see that others are losing
Sees needs but doesn’t care Cares, but doesn’t see
Not kind but usually straight-forward Kind, but hides what they think
Listens to others to gain advantage Does not listen
Anger problems Depression problems
Hurts others Is hurt by others
Dominates Manipulates
Like people but hard to tolerate Doesn’t like people, but easy to tolerate
Like the effects of drugs and alcohol Hate feeling out of control
Spends freely on themselves Wants others to spend on them
Annoyed when others want their time Doesn’t realize others want their time
Has job that will fulfill their goals Has job that makes them feel better
Many acquaintances and few close friends Few acquaintances and no close friends

All of us have a default position when we give in to evil. It is usually selfishness or self-absorption. When we do not give in to evil, we are much more complex. Evil motivations make us simpler and more predictable. No one is easier to anticipate than someone who is selfish or self-absorbed.

Which one of these are you when you are living poorly? 

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One comment

  1. Reblogged this on Jeremie’s Weblog and commented:
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