How often do you feel like your partner is being “selfish?” Do you find your emotions stirring with frustration, anger, impatience?
It’s common to sit with a client or a couple who are critical of someone significant in their life for being “selfish.”
Individuals and couples both have challenges with someone in their life who is perceived to focus their time, energy, and interest on their own career, the kids, a hobby, or friends and family.
The individual or partner who is critical of the other often describes they feel left out, ignored, over-worked, and often describes the other as being “selfish” and not thinking of others.
“Selfish” is a tricky word. It means something different to each of us and it looks different to each of us. It’s also interesting to understand how impactful the word “selfish” can be on the human spirit and in turn the impact it has on relationships.
When you review one of the many definitions of the word “selfish” one could interpret or imply that when one’s actions are focused towards themselves regardless of others that the person is being selfish.
- Sel-fish: devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
When the subject of being “selfish” comes up I find it worth while to explore what the word and behavior means to each individual and what it looks like through their lens of the world.
While there are moments of “selfishness” that do occur in a relationship, often, what reveals itself is that each individual is trying to find time for themselves.
Time to re-charge, time to re-connect with who they are or once were, time to pivot away from the day-to-day grind, time to explore, time to re-connect with friends and family, or simply find that spark that reminds them of their identity.
When you take a moment to understand the purpose of your friend or partner’s focus then you may find that there are more benefits to what they are trying to do rather than hardships.
When your partner has time to be “self-full” they may become more focused on the friendship, on the relationship, more patient with the kids, more tolerant, more energetic, laugh more, or simply be more present in the moment.
Being “self-full” is a take-away from our basic human interest and personal desires to find self-fulfillment.
When we review one of the many definitions of “self-fulfillment” you find a different spin on the circumstances that play out when a person focuses on themselves.
- Self-Fulfillment: the act or fact of fulfilling one’s ambitions, desires, etc., through one’s own efforts.
Therefore, next time you feel those emotions stirring in your gut and interpret a situation as your partner being “selfish,” challenge yourself to see the situation in a different way. Try to understand what your partner is trying to do or what the activity means to them.
If it enables them to be “self-full” and the benefits from that time outweigh the challenges, then support their efforts rather than criticize them.
It’s also important for you to take the time and understand what you need to be “self-full.” Once you know what that is, go ahead, and be selfish by becoming “self-full!”