Volume XIX, No.2
When It's All About Me
Not long ago I did a radio show on the topic, “why I cannot be satisfied when it’s about me.” It has
turned out be one of the most powerful fundamental truths for myself, those I counsel, and anyone
who wants to experience real lasting joy in life.
We were not designed, never intended to be self-seeking. And, if you are an atheist it still doesn’t work.
Popular self-help phrases such as “You must love yourself before your can love others,” “You must forgive
yourself before you can forgive others,” seem suspiciously circular yet they are pleasing; and so we accept
them at face value without thinking them through. If we did, we would realize they are a ploy of redefining
of principle terms. However, they put “me” first, which is just where we all want “me” to be. And the
excuse for not feeling good about life is “I guess I’m still not putting myself first enough.”
To be fully human, we require intimate human relationship. Human intimate human relationship requires full
human exchange; very much in the way (according to the entropic principle) open systems become ordered and
closed systems become disordered.
Here are five reasons why “I can never be satisfied if life is about me.”
When life is about me everyone else is by definition a distraction from my best interest. Others are a
threat, an inconvenience, an annoyance. Because I know I am mortal, if life is about me, the alternative
to self absorption must be akin to death. In more palatable terms, distraction from my own interests is
equivalent to a loss of personal value, control and power. This mind set assumes entitlement and generates
competition anxiety and develops a defensive, fear and shame-based disorder of personality.
When life is about me there can be no fixed or ultimate purpose. In the poem, “As the Ruin Falls,” C.S. Lewis
describes himself as the scholar's parrot that is able to speak Greek, but ”self-imprisoned, always end where
I began.” When the purpose of life is me, I cannot but wonder in circles. In fact, one cannot tow his or her
own line. One cannot pull himself or herself airborne by the boot straps. Anyone who believes he or she can be
his or her own reason, should try to define “reason” without being redundant. This frame of mind results in
impulsivity, instability, fragmented thinking, mood swings, and, at worst, the development of schizoid like
When life is about me there can be no hope in the future. If the value of life is defined by my existence then
life has only reliable value in my past. I do not own the future, I cannot control the future. I do not exist
somewhere in the future to make promises and insure their keeping. On the other hand, if the locus of life is
understood to reside elsewhere, then life is always a journey outward and its purpose, the reason of hope,
always lies in the future. Ultimately, the true hope in life must give meaning to every aspect of one’s life
experience and to life itself. We do not make up, or invent that kind of hope. It already exists as self-existent
and self-explained. It resides in the Creator, who is Life. Having no hope results in depression, melancholy,
fatalism, often addictive, avoidant personality.
When life is about me there are no absolute virtues such as love, trust and so forth. In fact, I wrote an article
and also did a radio show on “The Love Triad: trust, forgiveness and communion.” Accordingly, forgiving and
“forgetting rely on giving and receiving, that exchange cannot even be experienced when life is about me. So,
the next time you struggle to feel forgiven, it might be that life is too much about your receiving and not enough
about your giving. If life is about me, everything is relative to me: my limited life experience and personality
development define all virtues and pass judgment on the virtues of others. This mind set leads to the conclusion
that others are hypocrites, that virtues are pretentious. It leads to amorality. It leads to a pessimistic outlook
that results in opportunism, abusiveness and leans toward the antisocial personality. This is the familiar road to
the breakdown of a marriage. The fatalistic views of secular existentialism and socialism, the cruelty of nihilism
and the debauchery of hedonism all begin here.
When life is about me I cannot grow. Human growth is spiritual growth. Spiritual growth involves integration.
Vulnerability is fundamental. Imagine putting yeast in a lump of dough with the intention of removing the yeast
once the bead has risen. You are who you are in relationships.
Your “self” your “personality” your “growth,” all
simply imply the degree to which you offer yourself in service to others, and to which your life is intertwined
in the community.
COPYRIGHT©DANIEL PRYOR 2017