Compliments of Helga Weber via Flickr

Narcissism is increasing, with more Americans feeling entitled to special treatment (and feeling incensed when they don’t receive it). I think that our self-focus – and the closeness we feel with our things – are intertwined. Excess materialism, individualistic performance appraisal, and competitive practice unearth our worst behavior. A society in which “gimme, gimme, gimme” is the norm spawns beings who are stingy, selfish, and reactive when they don’t get their own way.         

The more  that we become the center of our universe, the less inclined we are to aid other people. Why not recognize individuals for being helpful to their peers? In this type of system, we would see workers scramble to develop their co-workers. In an organization (and in a society) in which selflessness is rewarded, we are less likely to see exploitative behaviors (described below):         

The disordered psyche will pull out all the stops to defend itself from exposure and shame. It must build support to accomplish this. The disorder itself drives him to this first-strike of involving others, enabling him to form a group to malign anyone who could expose his abuse. Thus, it works best if he can recruit your family, friends, children, coworkers to support him and undermine you. Abusers abuse in private.         

In companies where egoism is shamed, stalkers and obsessive types may vanish. I love Salvation Army’s mission statement: it’s simply Others. Personality is in part a function of environment, societal expectations, and what we consider acceptable. I think in many cases we’ve set our sights too low.         

We would be happier souls if our thoughts involved self-improvement. Tenets of selflessness are exemplified in the poem Dying to Self:         


DYING TO SELF         

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient loving silence,         


When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown,         


When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart,         


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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