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Selfish Choices

The challenge with those who regularly make selfish choices is that typically, they are unaware of the pain and hurt that they create for others. For the purpose of streamlining these thoughts, let's call such people egoists: those who are preoccupied with their own interests.

My life experiences have led me to believe that the vast majority of egoists behave the way they do because they carry significant unresolved pain within, often some combination of not having received sufficient love and being put down by those they most needed to be nurtured by as youngsters.

I don't think there's any arguing that some egoists live in psychopathic territory - they are cold-hearted, calculating, and can use extreme aggression to get what they want.

My view is that the majority of egoists are more accurately seen as sociopaths - people who lack empathy, act without thinking about how others will be affected, and have little to no remorse for wrongdoings. On the extreme end of the spectrum of sociopathic behaviour is a need to exploit and manipulate others for personal gain.

When well-intentioned loved ones share thoughtfully expressed feedback with hope that the egoist will recognize the pain he is causing for others and make an attempt to make more considerate choices, in many cases, the egoist does not have the capacity to reflect on such feedback - this can manifest in an angry response and any number of replies, common ones being:

"You don't understand me!"

"I have to stay true to myself."

"How dare you insult me."

"I don't give a..."

In my view, understanding that egoists exist and that they are unlikely to change their ways is essential to preserving our health and life energy. When we regularly engage with an egoist, make excuses for their behaviour, and tiptoe around the trail of broken people they continue to leave in their wake, we cannot come close to living our best life and doing good works for those around us.

I can guess from experience that some people reading this are thinking "what if I'm married to one?" or "what if one of my parents is like that? or "what if it's my own grown child?"

It's never easy to split from a family member - there are many factors to consider, including consequences to dependents and other loved ones. Still, I can share that I've intimately known people among relatives, friends, and patients who have tragically passed on too early because of the toxicity they felt they had to endure for x number of years - such memories make me lean towards believing that where being around a relative is regularly causing great pain and despair, it's rational to strongly consider parting ways after strong attempts to mend broken relations yield no sustainable improvement. In the case of a parent or grown child who is an egoist, putting a strong boundary in place may be a better option than complete estrangement.

As the saying goes, givers need to set limits with takers because takers don't have any. It's virtuous to strive to be giving and kind and a source of love and healing to those who are broken. But may all of us recognize and remember that martyrdom is a permanent end to all good things we can experience and do for others.

 
 

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Comments

Wow, thank you! This article was the final piece I needed to let go of my long-time (10-year) beloved. A minor sociopath. She is sweet and beguiling and when she packed up to leave our home she was moving on to her next (un)lucky victim. She dismissed my emotional "pain" as my responsibility (yes) but showed no sympathy or understanding of how her actions affected me. He seems to be enjoying being chosen. I wish him luck.