August 19, 2016

Selfish vs. Altruistic Intentions: Being more Mindful of Why we Do the things we Do.

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Am I loving to love or to be loved in return?

The intentions behind the actions are so often forgotten and the action itself becomes the only component valued.

A practice I’ve adopted recently is constantly asking myself, “Am I loving to love or to be loved in return?”

I ask myself this simple question when I go out of my way for someone in need. Do I want to do this because I want admiration and praise or because I genuinely want the best for this person? If my answer is a selfish one, then I ask myself why I feel the need to be admired. What am I missing? Why can’t my own admiration be enough?

Somehow through reminding myself that it is, it becomes.

The questions continue.

Do I keep in touch with these old friends because I want to maintain a persona? Or because they make me a better person and I genuinely adore them? Am I a teacher because I want to be a light in these students lives, or because I like how the image resonates with people? Am I criticizing her outfit in hopes to bond with the person I’m gossiping with? Or because I’m jealous of her physique? Am I wearing this outfit for attention or because it is my best form of expression for the day?

Am I posting this photo of myself doing charitable work because the photo represents who I am? Or am I posting this photo because it represents who I want people to see me as? Am I pursuing a graduate degree because I want to be deemed successful or because I crave the knowledge that comes with the piece of paper?

Why am I here? Why am I playing this part?

Do I love him? Or do I love being loved? Do I love him? Or am I terrified of being alone?

Am I listening just to have my turn to speak? Or am I really listening? Am I bringing up a heated topic because I want to put down someone else’s belief? Or to understand someone else’s belief?

For me personally, mindfully recognizing my intentions have easily become my best practice for inner peace.

It’s allowed me to live more authentically and reflect not on who I am by worldly standards, but by who I am to the depths of my core.

I’ve grown up hearing that we are innately selfish human beings. I beg to differ.

I genuinely believe we are conditioned to be that way.

Once we change our hearts through our minds, we have the power to become whoever we want to be.

I have overcome so many personal obstacles only to be faced with more. But each passing week, month, and year, and as the seasons change, I find myself growing into the most authentic version of myself.

Since doing this ritual more frequently, I’ve eradicated the majority of my anxiety. Why be anxious when I’m living for intentional purposes only? What is there to be anxious about?

Since being more mindful of who I am through what I do and how I live, my heart has somehow opened up to more positive souls and influence in my life. My intentions don’t see the purpose in pursuing any type of relationship with someone who weakens my spirit.

I used to think it meant I was a good person to consistently be there for those who are hurting, but I’ve learned there is a difference between hurt and self-sabatoge, and I will never be able to heal someone else, I can only heal myself. But because I was constantly seeking to be a shoulder for someone else to lean on, I was in retrospect constantly seeking my self-worth through the needs of others.

Through understanding my intentions, my life has been transformed.

I still hold tight to the belief that we are not innately selfish, we are innately broken-hearted and insecure—that can be healed only from the inside out. The healing process starts with our beautiful, complex minds.

Being intentional in my daily life has created a sense of steadiness in my soul.

I’m still learning and still stumbling, but my heart is more at peace than ever before.

Please love yourself.


Author: Emily Gordon

Image: With Permission from The Awkward Yeti

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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