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Archive for September, 2014

My friend and “optimism mentor” posed a question to me today: Is there such thing as a selfless act?

We had a great conversation on this topic that boiled down to this…

The concept of “selfless action” is essentially meaningless. Physics offers an instructive metaphor: The device used to measure some aspect of “reality” can not be separated from the reality it’s measuring.

In a similar way, the self cannot be separated from any action because the self is what intends and perceives the action. To put it another way, we always have a reason for the actions we take. Fulfilling that reason (even if the reason is to be charitable with no expectation of reciprocity) is our “reward” for the action.

If I donate $100 to a cause I believe in, I will certainly receive one or more of the following: feelings of joy, satisfaction, integrity, charity, or even self-actualization.

It seems that the only way “selfless action” makes any sense is if we’re unaware of the action. For example, I unknowingly drop $100 on the ground and someone picks it up. That is selfless!

All of this leads to the conclusion that giving is receiving, and receiving is giving. It’s like playing tennis — you need both sides or you don’t have a game.

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Abuse

Early emotional and psychological abuse taught me how to be a victim. And I became an expert at it.

I sought out abusers, and when none were available I played dual roles in a schizophrenic dance of self-abuse.

I’m learning now that my relationship with myself is where all others take their cue. Only as I learn to stop the self-abuse do I become free of the abuse of others.

Which is beautiful, because my relationship with myself is also the only relationship I have any real control over anyway.

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