How can I stop being so selfless

You get depth instead of tips.

No doubt, people who try to be selfless and, above all, to live their lives around the expectations of others are popular. And know a lot of sayings and quotes from famous people as justification: "Egoism is the tenderness of the elbows." ((Samuel Taylor Coleridge) or "Everyone has to decide whether he wants to live in the light of charity or in the darkness of selfishness." (Martin Luther King).

But as is so often the case with moral appeals, arguments are only argued in black and white instead of in the sense of both - and.

How is it with you? Which of the following statements do you agree with?

  • I feel responsible that those who interact with me feel comfortable.
  • It is important for me to be accepted by others.
  • I often try to find out what others want me to do in order to act on it.
  • It is important to me to find out from others whether I have done a good job.
  • I put my wants and needs aside in favor of other people.
  • I feel uncomfortable criticizing other people.
  • If someone is upset with me, I'll do everything I can to make it all right between us.

If any of these apply to you, you may be trying to please others too.

Many people are too focused on what other people expect. In a way, that's good, because humans are social beings and depend on others in many ways. However, as with all exaggerations, there are also clear disadvantages that are easy to overlook.

1. You can't please everyone.

A well-known fable by Aesop illustrates this:

A man rides his donkey home and lets his son run alongside on foot. A wanderer comes and says, “It is not right, father, for you to ride and let your son go; You have stronger links. "

So the father got down from the donkey and let the son ride. Another hiker comes along and says: “That's not right, boy, that you ride and let your father go on foot. You have younger legs. "

Then both got up and rode a distance. A third hiker comes and says: “What kind of torture is that, two guys on a weak animal? Shouldn't one take a stick and chase both of you down? ”Both of them dismounted and walked, to the right and left the father and son and in the middle the donkey.

A fourth hiker comes along and says: “You are three strange fellows. Isn't it enough if two people walk? Isn't it easier if one of you rides? ”Then the father tied the donkey's front legs, and the son tied his back legs, pulled through a strong tree stake that stood by the road and carried the donkey on his shoulder home.

Actually, you have known that for a long time. It is impossible to please everyone. Even if you could, there would probably be someone who would not be entirely happy with it - you.

Even the most famous writer, the most famous pianist, the hottest rock star does not manage to please everyone. There will always be several who do not like something. Often exactly what others like very much at the moment.

So what's your life? Just a collection of to-do lists that contain the wishes, ideas and expectations of other people?

2. The expectations of others arise from their view of the world. And that is not "right".

And that is never objective, even if the person presents it as reasonable, rational and the only correct worldview. You learn that when you read the newspaper. Should taxes be increased or decreased in the current economic situation? Good arguments can be found for each side. This would reduce or stimulate consumption. Even the economists have different views on this. There is no such thing as the truth.

Once you have grasped this in depth, then from now on you can also live your "truth". Because it is as subjective as the others. In other words, so wrong or just as right. With the important difference that this is your life - your time, your energy.

3. Whoever tries to please everyone is not automatically selfless.

No question about it, people with a "Do it all - driver" are mostly popular. Where other people refuse a request, don't feel like it or simply say “no”, you can rely on people who always want to be nice.

But that comes at a price. Because such people do not do this mainly because they are only noble, helpful and good. One could almost say that they also act selfishly. Isn't that often the opinion of others? About yourself so important that they subordinate everything to it.

Mostly they do it for completely different reasons:

  • You are afraid of conflict.
    Whoever follows the wishes of others usually has a conflict-free life with other people. (How it looks inside is a different matter.) He also gets a lot of recognition and sympathy for his easy-care nature.
    "You can have a great vacation with you, you go along with everything."
    “There are so many selfish types. It's completely different with you. "
  • They fear rejection.
    Anyone who as a child has often heard or experienced that their wishes are stupid, superfluous or too expensive, often decides not to give up this nakedness anymore and from now on only to do what others want or demand.
    Behind this is often the fear that an appropriate demarcation from the other would not be tolerated. In other words, it would put too much strain on the relationship.
    That may happen from time to time, depending on the situation and the status of the relationship. But you don't need to take this personally ("I know, easily said.") Just as the other person has the “right” to be angry or disappointed with your behavior, you can set yourself apart.
  • You are prone to feeling very guilty.
    Those who have a high self-ideal, have misunderstood the Buddhist teaching or believe that they have to earn their living here all the time are often more interested in the wishes of others than in their own needs. Because he knows of himself that he will then lie awake half the night plaguing himself with his feelings of guilt, so it is often more natural to behave in an exaggeratedly virtuous manner and suppress his desires, as it were as an anticipated penance for the supposed sinful desires.
    Sometimes it can turn into the opposite. Those who only give and do not take anything from the other often make the other person feel guilty. This is a very subtle, unconscious mechanism. I have often observed that a couple split up after a partner has successfully completed their studies. In the meantime, one partner has been working and completely financed the other's studies and maintenance - and is leaving. Neither of them can explain it.
    I then utter the hypothesis in the direction of the partner who separates: "Perhaps you realized that you owe too much of your girlfriend's debt and that you can never make up for it." , there is often clarity in the dynamics. If one gives a lot and takes nothing, it easily creates an enormous relationship gap, which the other eludes by escaping.
  • They stick on discount stamps.
    The older ones among my readers still know the discount stamps that you got when shopping, stuck neatly in a corresponding book, collected and could at some point redeem for something nice. This principle is now called “Payback Points”, but it cannot be experienced as sensually as a collection of discount stamp books.

    There is this principle in the psychological field "Save now - reward later!" but also. It works internally, with virtual discount stamps, so to speak. If someone feels offended by someone else and cannot clarify this with the person in the relationship, one or more discount stamps are often stuck inside. According to the motto: "I will remember that." Or "You always meet twice." This also works extremely well in a partnership. These fully glued brand books are then redeemed for something that is then “afforded”: two days of celebrating sick leave, an affair or a sinfully expensive luxury item.

How do you stop that now?

As is usually the case, simple tips are of little use: "Be more self-confident!" "Think more about yourself." "Make yourself less dependent on the opinion of others."

It is important to understand when and why you are doing this.

  • Do you often nod to the other person while listening?

    Do you also show this gesture of humility often?

  • Do you often ask how the other is doing without your interest?
  • Do you feel like staying home in the evening and worry that your partner might find you boring?
  • Don't you dare to decline the request for a favor because you are afraid that the other person will not like you?
  • Do you disguise your sex book in the subway with the newspaper so that people don't think ...?
  • Do you often tilt your head?

As always, if you want to change something, it is important to be aware.

Now it's happening! Or even better: “Now I'm trying again to please others.” And to explore curiously and compassionately with yourself what is going on in you. Who are you trying to please right now? Whose approval are you waiting for? What are your fears about what might happen?

This exploration can make you aware that an "old" program is going on in you. Five-year-olds or eight-year-olds want to be good because otherwise they would be deprived of affection or recognition.

The good news: you are an adult. You don't need that special affection anymore. It might be "nice to have". But no longer essential.

Try something new instead of the old program. The following sentences are ways of setting yourself apart from others.

- "I'm not for you. I'm not against you I am to myself. "

- "I'm different from you."

- "I am separated from others."

- "My wishes are just as important."

It is not about repeating these sentences like a prayer wheel in the sense of positive thinking. It's not about reprogramming. It's about a deeper understanding of what is driving you to do something that you don't really want to.

You will learn the most about yourself if you think them carefully or, if you are alone, say them out loud and observe your inner reactions.

By the way: "The love for yourself is the beginning of a lifelong romance", Oscar Wilde already knew.

What are your experiences with it?
What helped you change your behavior?

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Photo: © Helmut Niklas, Klaus Eppele -

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