Saturday, April 4, 2009

Independence and insecurity

I had a revelation as I was writing this. I began thinking that most, if not all selfishness is a minor form of contempt for other people, thinking that you somehow deserve more than the rest of the people of the world. I realize now that this isn't true. I think I see what independence is now. It's fear based. Independence and most selfishness related to independence is based on fear of inferiority, not a belief of superiority.

I offer a bit of self examination to all of you, being somewhat independent myself. Although I am struggling to cure myself, because I think that independence is both a symptom of society's ills as well as part of the problem. So while I deal with my own independence and selfishness, perhaps you might discover some of these truths in yourself.

Indepenent people's approach to cooperation is often, "what do I have to do to get them to give me what I want?" If they do act selflessly, they do so agaist their nature. They are after all, independent, which means "focused on themselves." I see a bit of myself in this, which is why I try to focus on helping other people, even while I am thinking to myself, "how am I going to benefit from this act of altruism?" I try to suppress the selfishness, while at the same time recognizing that the answer is not to remove my help. I should offer up help because it's the right thing to do, not because I get something out of it. The problem isn't that I'm helping. The problem is that I relate it to myself.

No doubt, many don't want to believe that the only reason they give is to get what they want. They believe the opposite, that independence is simply not wanting to bother other people with your problems. But why? This is simplistic and rationalization. If you are one of these people, ask yourself this: "Aren't I just afraid that if I put myself out there, that I ask for help, or I offer help without thinking how it relates to me, that someone will think lower of me? Or that I think low of myself for needing someone. Or that I lose something of myself? Or if I do help or offer my services I won't be able to do a good job? They are better off without my help? Or that helping will cost me something? These thoughts are all self serving. They are self-ish, but it is understandable. At the same time they are protective.

The degree to which someone is independent can actually be measured in terms of selfishness. But it's not pure egoism. It's a protective sort of selfishness. It's self preservation. In fact, what I have found to be true is that the most independent people are the most insecure. They are very quick to tell you that they can "do it on their own." And this is rather ironic since independence is usually used to communicate to the world that you have high self esteem. Independence is a shell designed to give the illusion that you are strong. But in reality, the only person you are fooling is yourself. Everyone knows that independent people are insecure, because everyone is insecure in some area and recognizes its symptoms. Your insecurity reads loud and clear when you act independently and selfishly. If someone else ridicules you because your help was somehow flawed or inadequate, or that you are less of a person because you need help, then they are too self centered themselves. And you can see how selfishness starts to snowball and to create an independent world. Their self-centerdness helps to reinforce yours. Their insecurity feeds yours. Our world is not only independent and selfish, it is also increasingly insecure. When you begin to recognize your own insecurities and begin to deal with them openly rather than internally, you will automatically open up and begin to be more cooperative.

Am I insecure? Sure! We all are in one way or another. So what do we do? Most people do the opposite of what they would do if they embraced their insecurity and put their insecurity on display. But doing the opposite REALLY highlights your insecurity. Most actions like this are unnatural. Independence is actually unnatural. We are meant to be cooperative, not selfish.

So I urge you all to examine your own insecurities and to recognize how you deal with them. Do you react opposite to how you would otherwise? Can you see how your response to insecurity exposes your insecurity to the world? Isn't it then smarter to embrace your insecurities and to let other people help? Or to help other people and to risk finding out that your help will possibly be inadequate?

You need to ask yourself this: Which is worse, exposing that you aren't good at something? That you are inadequate. That you aren't perfect? That you don't have it all figured out? That your life isn't perfect and in order? Or is it worse for the world to know that you are insecure? Insecurity gives the illusion that you are ALL of those things and more! While you are probably only a couple of those things. If the world believes that you are insecure, they think that you believe ALL of the above. If that's not true, then it's better for you to let them in on the couple of problems that you have. Since everyone has skeletons, then they would be hypocritical to ridicule you of your flaws.

And if someone exposes their own weakness to you, be careful that you do not highlight the weakness. Help it. Give the person help to fight the weakness. Give them advice. THAT is the proper way to deal with each other's weaknesses. Helping one another with weakness creates true strength. They become stronger, as does your relationship with them. And the world becomes a little bit better because of it. Thank you.

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