An Epiphany

If you read my post last week, you saw me go on and on about the importance of peace.

Avoiding conflict is great. Lowering stress is also favorable.

But how exactly do we implement peace?

Two weeks ago I had an epiphany. But I didn’t know how to fit it into my blog. I didn’t want to follow a post about procrastination with a random realization I had about how I’m supposed to conduct my life.

So I decided to take baby steps. Step one was to post about pacifism. Step two is to share my epiphany.

And step three is to challenge you, should you choose to accept.

Step Two

I hate conflict. I really do. But I feel like sometimes I make unnecessary conflicts for myself, with absolutely no grounds to back it up.

This epiphany is kind of a conflict. But I think it’s a necessary one.

Think of the absolute worst thing any relationship could have. I’m sure something immediately came to mind, and I’ll bet you scanned the next paragraph to see if you were right. Maybe you didn’t get the exact word, but I’m almost certain it falls under this umbrella term.

Selfishness.

“(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure”.

Oxford Dictionary

It’s when someone is too focused on their own needs that they neglect thinking about others. Sometimes it’s malicious. Sometimes it happens without a thought, like a bad habit that’s years in the making.

I know what you want to say. “But Erin, my answer was better.” I’m sure you’re answer was amazing. But think deeply on it for a moment. Is it a form of selfishness? Does it involve one person lacking consideration for the other? Did the perpetrator ignore the victim’s emotions, rights, and best interest in order to inflict some form of harm on them for self gain?

If the other person ends up worse than before due to this action, then the person to blame has acted in selfishness. Don’t get me wrong, there are different levels to selfishness. There are serious, harmful levels that are warning signs to leave a relationship immediately. But there’s also lower levels – dishonesty, passive aggression, disloyalty. But in the end, all these things boil down to someone acting without consideration, for “one’s own personal profit or pleasure”.

I had an epiphany. I realized that I was selfish. And so was everyone around me.

I love the people I hang out with. They are amazing people and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. And they are generous, and kind, and thoughtful, and understanding. They take time out of their day for each other, and it overwhelms me sometimes how amazing this group of people can be.

But no one is perfect. As much as I want my relationships with those people to be void of selfishness, it’s not. And I’m inclined to believe 95% of it is my fault. After all, I’m the only person I can control.

My motives in those relationships were all wrong. I wanted the profit of those friendships – I wanted their time, to be around their personalities, to join in on their fun. I wanted the pleasure of those friendships – so I won’t be lonely or bored or depressed, or whatever it is. I’m raking in great rewards for being in these relationships.

What am I doing for them?

Step Three

Here’s my idea.

I dare everyone who reads this. One person. Fifty people. However many of you are out there. I dare you to join me in projecting focus outwards.

We live in a self-absorbed world. Everyone has a million things on their plate. No one has time for each other. We lead such busy lives it almost feels like we aren’t in control anymore, the world is.

Let’s change that.

Obviously, we can’t change society. We live in a fast paced world now. That’s how it is. But maybe we could manage our time better so that it stops being about us, us, us and more about them, them, them.

I live in a family that emphasizes volunteer work. My mom runs a neighborhood food co-op for our community. We go to a church that emphasizes serving others. My sister and I are well connected in the youth group there, and do volunteer activities through it.

I’m surrounded by influences telling me to think about the other person. To do something generous and meaningful everyday. Not because it’s a rule I’ve got to follow, but because it’ll make me feel good. It’ll make the other person feel good.

Google this. I promise you a million articles will pop up about the correlation between selflessness and happiness. (Like this one, or this one, or here). Being generous doesn’t just help the other person – it makes us feel healthier, more confident, and content. So why don’t we do this more?

I want to challenge us to start focusing outwards instead of inward, on ourselves. Everyday, for the next month, let’s try to do one thing for someone else. Let’s hold a door open for a stranger. Let’s put down our phones for two seconds to have a meaningful conversation. Let’s make time for others and pull ourselves out of this selfish trend that’s quite frankly destroying our lives.

I’ve been struggling with confidence for a while now. I’ve felt out of place everywhere I’ve went, and with everyone I’m around. I’ve felt like a small, insignificant person in the midst of people who are all better than me and more deserving of happiness.

But all those thoughts stemmed from focusing too often on me. I’ve given myself room to compare myself to others. I’ve given myself time to question whether I mean anything at all (Side note: everybody is a meaningful part of the world). I’ve been projecting all my energy inward, onto all my insecurities and failures. I think the remedy is to pull myself out of my head for a little bit, and put myself in someone else’s shoes.

This kind of feels like an attack. I feel personally attacked by this post, and I wrote it. But I think it’s time to end selfishness in our relationships. It’s stopping us from having deep connections with people. It’s causing us to live on auto pilot, searching for the next thing we can enjoy rather than who we can help. It’s putting a blockade between passable happiness and true happiness.

This is the toughest thing I could ever ask anyone to do. And at the end of the day, I’m the only one I can control. I’m going to do this. I’m going to work on focusing less on me and more on you.

What about you?

October 1st starts tomorrow. Let’s do this.

3 thoughts on “An Epiphany

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