I have been thinking about selfishness, love, and my cat and how they can all be related. I know that this sounds a bit strange, but hear me out and then take it for what it is worth.
I believe that selfishness is the opposite of love. Everything is done for self and not for anything other than that. This is where the thought of my cat comes into play. She will wake us up early in the morning to be fed. She will cry to go outside on the patio and then the next minute cry to come back in when she is unhappy. She will ignore you and run from us when we want to play with her, but when it is right for her she will climb all over us. Everything is done for her benefit and pleasure. She does not think about what others in the house want or need, everything is about her.
All of this exemplifies selfishness. The cat has no true regard for anything other than what she wants. There is no concern of how we are feeling at the moment. All she knows is her needs are not being met and she cries until she gets what she wants. Unfortunately, it is easy for us to fall into this same trap of only being thoughtful of our own wants and needs.
As an alcoholic I found myself being this type of person to all around me. I found myself unable to truly think or do anything that did not somehow benefit me in the end. No matter how small the item or task was I could not look past me in and of it all. It truly shames me to admit this, because I know I was not raised to be this way.
In my marriage I did not think of her needs. They were not my anywhere near my thought or comprehension and treated her as if she was there just to fulfill what I needed. Sure there were times that I would buy her something a bit “thoughtful” or doing something for her, but it was because I wanted to manipulate a situation. These things were not about her. It was to create a peace that I could live with for a few more days or weeks. It had nothing to do with her happiness or contentment, it was all about mine.
At work, I did my job, but treated things as though if I did want was required of me I deserved some type of great reward recognition. This brought about anger and frustration, because I was not receiving the respect, money, or whatever seemed to be right according to me. This then was brought into all other aspects of my life because I was making myself miserable in work and life. The idea that they were keeping me as an employee and giving my wages was what was agreed upon and should have been what I expected never truly crossed my mind. I felt as though I was the greatest thing for the company and that they should notice that and give me something more.
There are countless other examples of how I lived my life in this manner of only looking at myself and then how it affected all those around me. This is not what I want to look at though. I want to consider life of giving of self in order to show love. Not just words, but actions in all of this. Learning about myself and my alcoholism, I learned that there is more to life than just me. I know this sounds very simple, but in my mind I truly never did understand that. With accepting this, I needed to be a contributing member of society and not just sitting back and letting whatever happen, but to truly be in the mix.
Then within in church I started learning of true love. The love that Christ has shown us: when he healed the sick, taught his disciples, and the dying on the cross. Each of these things was not about him, but about others. It was not words, but actions that showed his love, and if I am to be Christ like, then my actions need to match my words. This means taking away the selfishness and thinking and giving to others before myself.
As I continually try to improve myself in this area, I have stumbled upon people questioning my motives because it is out of character. Selfishness had been a way of life for so long, that I came to realize that my actions and words will need to be consistently aligned with love and care for others for people to truly accept the change. I am not even close to being perfect on these things, but I am doing better and that is all that we can hope for. I can say that the new me truly to think of others before myself is a much more content person and far less angry. It can do wonders for you as well if you just give it a try.