Selfish Tendencies……..

Selfish tendencies in all relationships can be a major problem because selfishness promotes individualistic thinking. In order for relationships to grow selfishness must die. Selfishness can come in many different forms in all sorts of relationships: parent/child, intimate, work, and spiritual relationships just to name a few. When a person is selfish they tend to think of themselves only at the cost of others, meaning that although their actions seem to affect others directly they continue on regardless. Selfish people tend to be so focused on their needs and wants that they refuse to think about the ramifications of how their actions will affect others. So how do you know if you have selfish tendencies?……Well hopefully the following will assist:

  1. Spouses: can be selfish when they only think of themselves, making social arrangements without inviting their spouse. Many incidents of infidelity are based in selfishness in that an individual has decided to fulfill their selfish need outside of the marriage. When couples do not ask or consider the other’s opinions, for instance always picking the restaurant or the movie without consulting with their husband or wife. During sex, men and sometimes women are often selfish when they are only concerned with having an orgasm and do not work to make sure their partner has an orgasm or is completely satisfied as well. When one person wants to control and spend all of the money without consulting the other party. When couples do not say thank you for all the little things that their spouse does on a daily basis, such as cooking, cleaning, taking out the trash etc. When spouses do not recognize when their partner is overwhelmed.
  2. Parents: can be selfish when they put their love lives before their children, many single parents spend a lot of time engaging in uncommitted, destructive, abusive, and painful relationships. The children are left to witness their parents spiral out of control, chasing love from relationship to relationship. Parents who put their careers before their children by working excessively and leaving their children alone or to be cared for by strangers in daycare centers from 6am to 6pm  or longer (depending on the situation, some parents don’t have a choice). This does not leave a lot of time for bonding and care-taking by the parents. But for many mothers the thought never occurs to them to stay home and care for their young children, that they desperately wanted, and worked hard to create.
  3. Spiritual selfishness: develops when individuals only pray in times of turmoil or emergency. When God is an afterthought then selfishness has occurred. When every prayer is simply for asking for something as opposed to quality time with God where appreciation and thanksgiving is allowed to develop. When individuals only attend church on major holidays such as Easter or when there is some sort of major church celebration.
  4. Friendships: where the relationship is one-sided, people who call simply to borrow something, to share good news (brag) or to extract some sort of information from a friend. This type of friendship is not reciprocal, there is no give and take, only take.

The good thing about selfishness is that it is not a life sentence, it can be easily remedied with just a few steps. The other good thing about selfishness is that if you determine you are selfish, you are not alone, most people are selfish in some manner (including myself). The key is identifying ways in which you are selfish and working to change. First, sit and have some quiet time to journal and probe your life for selfishness, see if you fit in any of the above categories. Next, ask your love ones if there are times when they notice selfishness in you, this is not an opportunity for your to defend yourself or confront someone else. This is a time for you to listen and learn, and thank them for their honesty. Next, begin to pray and ask God to help you overcome your selfish tendencies. Something that works well in getting the ball rolling is volunteering to help someone who is in need, search your community and find a church or organization that needs your help. Lastly, give without expectation, help and give to others without expecting something in return, not even a thank you. If you are truly giving from the heart, then you are not expecting to be recognized or to have the action reciprocated.

Toxic Parents

Ideally parents are supposed to teach, love, and protect their children. Sometimes parents lack the ability in any of the above  mentioned duties. Parents should value and cultivate their children, but unfortunately some parents are very toxic. By toxic I mean abusive and neglectful, abusive by means of verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional withholding or parental neglect. Some children are lucky enough to receive help in repairing those old wounds of abuse, but what about the children who are not rescued, counseled, or engage in spiritual healing? Well they turn into adults who may someday have children of their own. The question then becomes how do adults avoid becoming a toxic parent? Well lets identify all the ways one can be a toxic parent and then we will examine ways to recover from toxic parenting.

The following should be considered toxic parenting:

  1. Verbal abuse in the form of criticism, yelling, name calling, cursing, discouraging your child, overall negativity. Ex. “you are useless” “you are stupid” “you are not smart enough to do that” “I wish you were never born” “I don’t like you”
  2. Sexual abuse in the form of touching, forcing a child to watch pornography, sexual intercourse, forcing a child to watch adults have sex etc.
  3. Neglect in the forms of not providing adequate food or shelter, meeting the adults needs before the child’s. Ex. buying food or clothes for adults but not the child, leaving children unattended in order to hang out socially, withholding emotional affection/emotionally unavailable.
  4. Physical abuse in the forms of hitting, beating with objects which leave long-lasting bruises, yelling, all punishments are physical, slapping a child, punching a child, pushing into furniture for mere infractions that are age appropriate.
  5. Untreated mental illness in which the child suffers because the parent is suffering from depression, mood disorders etc. the parent refuses to be medicated and refuses mental health counseling. Untreated mental illness leaves the child to suffer with abrupt moods, extreme anger, witnessing suicide attempts etc.
  6. Substance abuse which leaves the child witnessing parental black outs, drug and alcohol abuse by many adults within the home (parties), drug selling, neglect because the family finances are used to obtain drugs or alcohol. All of this can leave the child with trust issues, developmental issues (if use occurs during pregnancy), co-dependency issues, etc.
  7. Manipulating and controlling parents who constantly manipulate their children to fulfill their own agendas such as using guilt trips, using money to control children, using religion to inflict guilt etc.

Ways to recover from toxic parenting:

  1. Adults recovering from toxic parenting should seek mental health and spiritual counseling.
  2. Create boundaries such as staying away from those who have or continue to abuse or mistreat you.
  3. Self reflection exercises: listing your good qualities, volunteer work that makes you feel worthy and needed, and showcases your talents.
  4. Journal often, this helps to regulate feelings and is good for releasing anger.
  5. Learn the art of prayer and meditation.
  6. Join a support group.
  7. Surround yourself around positive people who love and support you in your goals, and who can help further your goals in life.
  8. Seek a mentor, a person who is healthy and possibly have overcome the same type of experience with toxic parents.

No Longer On The List

Who do you have on your friendship list? How did that person make it to the list? How are individuals removed from the list? Your friendship list should be sacred, only a select few allowed. Those that exemplify love, compassion, support, and time when interacting with you should be allowed into the friendship circle. There is no room in the circle for jealously, envy, and those who do not practice reciprocity (returning phone calls and texts and love). In relationships distance is sometimes needed to protect your heart and conserve your time.

What does it look like when someone is no longer on the list?

  1. No longer given priority in relation to time.
  2. No longer going the extra mile to inquire about their day.
  3. In the words of Martin Lawrence “I will see you when I see you”
  4. No longer make the first contact, they should know how to find you, if they want to.
  5. No longer put their concerns before yours.

Misguided Hatred

Quite often, the saying “hate is a wasted emotion” is used, perhaps there is some truth to this saying. Hate usually leaves the individual feeling angry and unhappy.  Dictionary.com  describes hatred as “the feeling of one who hates, intense dislike or extreme aversion or hostility.” Usually when the term hatred is used it is directed toward a specific person, place, or thing. Unfortunately, I think it is highly misused against people.  What does it really mean to hate someone? Does one have to know an individual personally in order to hate them? You would think so, but think of the numerous celebrities that are hated by the general public, most likely for unjust reasons, but yet still hated. I say unjust because how does one hate someone they do not know? The hip hop culture often use the term “he hatin on me” which carries the connotation that someone is disliked or the victim of someone else’s jealous feelings without justification.

What about unjustified hate toward a friend or family member? I often wonder how does someone claim friendship and yet hate the person at the same time?  When the term hate is so loosely used, we forget that sometime the thing that makes us so envious of others could very well be the talent or blessing that God has placed upon them. If you compare yourself to your friend, or become angry or enraged when they acquire material possessions, a new spouse, have a special talent, a raise a work etc., then be careful, because you may be hating a blessing from God. So it’s not really the person you are hating, maybe it’s the blessing, and if it’s the blessing then you run the risk of hating God.

Maybe you should take a personal inventory and examine the next time you feel hate towards someone. Ask yourself, why am I so annoyed by this person, why do I dislike this person?  Think of how unfair it is for the other person who considers you a friend. They spend time with you and share their hopes and dreams, just to have you speak ill behind their backs and to betray their confidence. How unfair for the person who looks at you as a friend, how hurtful. Maybe if you cannot be a true friend without hate or envy then you should let the friendship dissolve. What are you gaining by pretending, every time your friend comes around you feel annoyed or angry; this is your issue not your friend’s. If someone is your friend you should be able to cheer for them and all their successes and help them in times of their failure. Practicing the art of “Fake  Friendship” is a waste of time and is hurtful to the other person.  Just as hate is also a waste of time, because it usually accomplishes nothing.

Knowing When to Relinquish a Relationship

How do you know when it is time to release yourself from a relationship? When I say relationship I mean all relationships, romantic, friendship, business, and family relationships.  When do you call it quits? When is relinquishing a relationship for the best, and when is it considered being a quitter because it’s too hard? It may be a good idea to end a relationship, if you have tried to make things better by communicating with the other person, you tried being flexible and compromising, you have humbled yourself and did not allow your pride to rule your decision-making. Perhaps you are not producing or receiving anything good from the relationship, maybe the relationship is one-sided, you give and the other person takes.  Eventually you will grow tired of giving that you become depleted. How many times must you apologize, choose to quiet your voice, or overlook hurtful words or actions.  

Why would one choose to stay in such a relationship state? Perhaps it is something that you learned early on in life, maybe this is the sort of relationship that you had with your parents or siblings, and you think that this is how relationships are supposed to be.  Maybe, you don’t think you deserve better. You think love or relationships consist of you pursuing and the other party or individual running and mistreating you.  Somewhere on your relationship DNA you were fooled into thinking that this sort of one-sided relationship is good, but deep down you know it is not right.  At what point do you value yourself enough to relinquish the past and walk toward something new and rewarding?

Perhaps, it is time to stop making excuses, and start making healthy choices that will allow you to prosper and grow as an individual. Perhaps, it is time to receive some of the love that you constantly share with others. Maybe, just maybe, every relationship is not worth saving. So, how do you know when it is time to move on to new endeavors and relationships? Here are some helpful hints:

  1. If you are in a one-sided relationship, constantly giving but never receiving.
  2. If your relationship is not producing any income, mutual learning, or emotional connection.
  3. If you are constantly second guessing yourself, trying to figure out how to make the other person happy, but in reality there is no making them happy, because they could care less about you.
  4. If you are being physically, emotionally, or verbally abused or financially depleted/manipulated.
  5. If you are not being appreciated.
  6. If you are dispensable to the other person, they really don’t care if you live or die, show up or cancel, call or don’t call.
  7. If you have given a good faith effort, and still there has been no change.
  8. If you are emotionally, financially, or intellectually depleted (there is simply nothing left).
  9. If you are not learning, prospering, or changing for the better.
  10. If the current relationship is hindering you from new relationships and opportunities.