The Difference Between Selfishness and Selflessness

The past few years I’ve had a real battle with finding that line between taking care of myself and helping others. We all know the saying “You have to take care of yourself before taking care of others” but how far is too far, and how much is not enough.

In a world of such difficult times and people feeling more alone than ever, we need to focus on reaching out and letting other know that we are here to help. I find it amazing that with this day and age, the world is so easily connected through social media and instant messaging, yet suicide rates are at an all time high. I believe part of this is that we are now, not only comparing our lives to our social circles, but now to the world of the un-realistic lifestyle. Everyone is so overly focused on what people outside their family and friends think and care, that they forget to look at the people right in front of them. Or better yet, look deep within at themselves.

But to what point is that boundary passed? What point do I change focus on reaching out to others or start focusing more on myself?

A few years ago I started a relationship that I never realized would teach me so much. This relationship taught me strength, communication, sacrifice and selflessness, which in turn truly taught me I need to love myself before loving someone else.

The week I moved in, we unfortunately found out news that he was sick and was undetermined just how long healing process would be. At that point I didn’t know how serious it was and to be honest, I really was not expecting everything that was to come. But when you love someone you try your hardest to show them that you are strong, capable and there for them at any moment.

Throughout the months things got worse, then better, then worse, then better, and so did our relationship. You try so hard to adjust your life, your mind and your energy and go back and forth beating yourself up because you struggle. You struggle yourself, to keep a smile on, to change everything around you at home to make them feel comfortable, while working at a job where all you do is put other peoples needs ahead of yourself. Eventually things start to get more difficult to do, you start to loose who you once were and you become extremely mad at yourself for suffering so hard when they are suffering themselves. You need to be the strong one, so suck it up and help them heal.

This vicious circle basically lasted the whole relationship from then on out. Sometimes I would go out and feel the need to “treat myself” because I deserved to a little me time. But then guilt kicks in, and so does anxiety. You now battle with feeling guilty having fun while the other is feeling horrible at home. Long story short, unfortunately the relationship ended. My anxiety being over the top crazy, turned into depression, from a constant battle with myself and not being good enough, not being strong enough and not being able to just put my needs aside and take care of him.

Since the end of the relationship, I have struggled with this battle of what is too much and what is not enough on both ends of these spectrums. That balance of taking care of yourself and making sure you are fully happy and well, before taking on the want to help someone else. Am I going to be able to ever give my all to someone else, without feeling like I loose who I am? What about if something happened to my mom or dad, will my anxiety kick right back in and will I instantly feel like I will fail, because I have before.

Now put love in the equation and shit just hits the fan.

I have always looked at love as, if you love someone you will give up everything you have to make them happy.
But what is giving up everything? Does that mean you change your whole daily routine, your dislikes to their likes, your preferences out the window? What happens when you don’t have much to give? What happens when you simply don’t have the time or resources?

Relationships are all about give and take and you truly need to be happy to be able to make that adjustment. Both people need to understand this and both people need to make sure that yes, you both would change the world for each other. But you both need to understand that you fell in love with that amazing person, and that amazing person needs self love.

To everyone reading this, don’t feel you need to change your world for someone you love. Know that your world, is what we fell in love with in the first place.

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