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What does it mean to be selfless?

wantstorepair posted 2/8/2020 09:28 AM

To be a cheater and liar you have to be selfish right? both are horribly selfish things to do, period. so someone who justified these horrible actions and abject selfishness, and has lived a life of selfish, what does selflessness look like? how do you define it? And is it selfish and transactional for you to want your actions for others to have value to them? I understand One can not control peopleís actions or feelings or reactions, or the outcome of what you do. That being said, is it transactional and selfish to want to know that your actions will be valued?

Is this me looking for external validation under the guise of selflessness?

If a man aid standing on the side of the road bundled up in a hat and coat and gloves against the freezing weather, is it valuable to him for me to stop and give him my coat? Or is it more valuable to him for me to find out what he needs and then try and meet that need because that is what will matter to him.

I have lived a selfish and shitty and transactional life and I am certain that .I am seeing this wrong and have to change, and am asking for others opinions please on what does selflessless mean and how to live that way In order to get learn and change.

3greatkids posted 2/8/2020 14:03 PM

So deep down youíre just a thoughtful gift giver, and you making exactly sure what the homeless person needs is so they are correctly benefitted and not so you make sure your efforts arenít wasted in doing the wrong thing? Only you can be introspective and honest enough to know what your true motivations are.

But if you make sure others see or hear about your efforts, genuine selflessness probably isnít what youíre doing.

EvolvingSoul posted 2/8/2020 15:00 PM

Try practicing secret charity.

Give/do acts of charity anonymously.

That will give you a taste of selflessness as long as you DON'T TELL ANYONE YOU DID IT. If you find yourself with the urge to tell someone, that gives you a place to start digging as to one of your why's.

Are you in IC?

Zugzwang posted 2/8/2020 15:19 PM

You give to ease others. Without wanting to know that your actions are valued. If you want to know that your actions are valued in order to feel value- then it is a selfish act to feed your ego.

Crushed7 posted 2/9/2020 10:02 AM

I struggle with the word "selfless" as a goal. I have been called selfless and giving many times, but there is a more accurate term when one takes that in the wrong direction -- codependent. Being willing to self-sacrifice and to give for others can be something that is lauded, but it can also be selfish at its root -- it can be an act of giving in the hope of getting something in return (some attention, a bit of appreciation, something that looks like "love", etc.)

I think what you are looking for is love. And love needs to be balanced -- loving others *as* yourself, not *more* than yourself. You've recognized that you have been living a transactional life, that it is unfulfilling and that you don't want to go down that path anymore, which is a great start. But I think the next answer you need is not how to be great at not being selfish/transactional, but at why you went down that path to begin with. There is likely a hidden belief or assumption buried deep within you based on your past experiences that led you to believe that selfish and transactional was the only way to play the game. You'll need to find that, examine it, see how you integrated it into your decision making and then start taking small steps to replace it with something healthier. It could be that you'll need to work on your internal sense of self worth. Or on giving without seeking attention or a return. Or any number of things. But you'll first need to identify what is inside before you can identify the best steps to make adjustments that will lead to a healthier you.

sisoon posted 2/9/2020 10:45 AM

I'm not big on 'selflessness' - I think we're all selfish.

More important, I think human beings need to give and get. Giving has been associated with 'selfless' in 2 posts above, and I agree - giving with no strings attached is something we need to do te be healthy.

At the same time, we need to receive, too, and we need to receive more than the good feelings that come with giving with no strings attached. Without being willing to receive, after all, one denies his fellow human beings opportunities to give.


free2016 posted 2/9/2020 10:54 AM

If you can give at least as much as you take from your partner, it is a good start.
Cheaters usually just take, and it seems nothing fulfills them, so they drain their partner and discard.

JBWD posted 2/9/2020 13:58 PM

Sissoon highlights that we have things we want/need.
I quite personally wrestle with where this line is- And the idea of selfless giving means, for me, that when I DO receive, itís a joyful surprise.

Additionally, as I focus more on giving, this also strongly reinforces what I control, as opposed to waiting to receive. I have the power to give, and I find more and more ways to do so.

An additional facet- Giving helps you refocus outside yourself. Once again the less time I think about what Iím getting, the gifts that we have are more evident- They sneak up and create that joyful surprise I mention.

Case in point I have had two recent career windfalls, both QUITE unexpected and welcome. And both were results of friends I had looked out for YEARS ago. Not done with the goal of personal gain but came back around full circle years later. Had I been the JBWD of last year I would have heard about it and been furious had it not been me.

The key distinction is avoiding expectation- My fortunes are not the product of my actions.

hikingout posted 2/10/2020 09:17 AM

I think some very profound things have been said already.

One thing that is for sure is you seem to want your wife to provide you with positive reinforcement. I think you need to accept that is too much to ask for right now. Consider it as a gift, if you aren't going to get it and you do things you need to do as a man and a husband, then you will need to learn to feel satisfied in your own heart about the things you do.

My husband would have said prior to the affair I was the most selfless person that he knows. That was actually not true, I gave like a Martyr to the point I resented it. So, being selfish and protecting our own happiness is also healthy. I tend to think the secret is if we love ourselves and find fulfillment and have our own self worth, then we are a fountain. We love ourselves and we have a lot to give because our bucket is full.

You have been running around with an empty bucket waiting for others to fill it up. That makes you a drain instead of a fountain.

Behaviors are a by product of our thoughts and our internal world. We have to rewire our internal world in order to exhibit long term changed behavior.

You are in a tight spot right now (granted, of your own making). You are unemployed, and you are at the lowest point a marriage can get. I imagine this is a hard place to begin figuring out how to become fulfilled. Especially when you think about how bad most of us WS are at coping. But, only you can pull yourself out of it.

Some things that helped me:

Learning to be present,mindful, and thankful. That means if I am sitting folding clothes that I am completely present, doing the best job I can. I am smelling the warm clean smell. I am appreciating that I have clothes to fold and a home to fold them in. Sounds really crazy, I know. But, we do not feel joy unless we are completely in the present moment. If we are thinking of the future or the past we are in our guilt, regret, anxiety, depression. I read a great book about this that helped me practice this it's called The power of now by Eckhardt Tolle. It's not an easy read but it helped me be more objective in watching my thoughts. We believe so many things we tell ourselves that isn't true.

Changing self talk is important as well. I had to think about if I was my best friend would I talk to myself that way? No, I sure wouldn't.

Doing the best I can every day. That means making my h's life easier and better, doing the best I can with tasks at hand, really taking a moment to enjoy the accomplishment.

I started a gratitude journal. Every day I wrote 3-5 things in it and I really thought about each one and how much I loved and appreciated that thing. Studies show that after about a month of that some rewiring has occurred, because it means that when you come into contact with that increasingly long list of things that you will remember that feeling of joy from when you reflected on it earlier.

Joy is cultivated. And, when you have it, and you start doing things that you know are right each day and concentrating on that one task at hand, you will see you will have a greater connection with yourself. The more you can do that, the more you will be able to do that with others. You will change to a fountain from a drain.

As soon as finances allow I think you should also go to therapy. There are longstanding patterns that you need to realize where they come from so that you can dispel them.

MrsWalloped posted 2/10/2020 11:47 AM

At the same time, we need to receive, too, and we need to receive more than the good feelings that come with giving with no strings attached. Without being willing to receive, after all, one denies his fellow human beings opportunities to give.

OMG, yes! This is sooo important.

I never allowed myself to receive. Any compliment my husband would give me I immediately discounted. Just one example was compliments about my looks. My inner dialogue would be something like ďIt doesnít count. Heís supposed to say that. He doesnít really mean it. Look at me, Iím a mess! No makeup, I havenít shaved my legs in a week and Iíve been cleaning all day and he says Iím beautiful?Ē And even if I was all done up and he complimented me, well, he knows Iíll be hurt if he doesnít so thatís why he said it. Not because he means it.

My inability to receive deprived my husband of his ability to give to me. And in turn I never thought I did get from him and that hole needed to be filled by someone but I didnít let my husband do his rightful job.

Sometimes, being selfless means being selfish.

Brokenlifer posted 2/11/2020 19:17 PM

Without reading the other responses, first resposnse is to say... what it means to be selfless is

Being a betrayed spouse. Offering the gift of R. Being alone in your triggers and trauma because that's 'yours' to deal with, alone. Trying to be happy again when you've literally lost years of your life by being kept in the dark, again it's your job to be happy even though you didn't cause the pain and it would be feasible for the one who did to try and bring you happiness because logically it's possible if they can bring you pain.

Being selfless is being a good parent and not telling your children the truth about your WS so they can look like the good parent. It's defending your WS to your family and putting up with theirs who don't support you even though you were wronged.

It's being the perfect saint like forgiving, loving and gracious spouse to the one who thought it was acceptable on some level, to give you an std and steal your choices. Because if you don't then strangers who are supposed to understand and those who don't, will criticise you for not being exactly that.

It's giving credit to your WS for being a decent human being after being an indecent one to the one person they were supposed to be good to, while only getting credit for being perfect. Because your WS is 'trying' nevermind that you're 'trying' harder because you have more to deal with and didn't ask for any of this.

It's forgiving the ap or you've got issues even though it's normal to have issues. It's not feeling like plan b or the second choice even though that defies your natural response or otherwise you've got issues. It's finding confidence (sexual and otherwise) from nowhere and no one and everywhere but, the one person who should provide that beven though logically it's fair for you to need that from the one person who you have a romantic and sexual relationship with.

It's being alone in your mind movies while making love to the one who just learned that it's wrong to give your spouse an std or cruel to have sex with their AP in their marriage bed. While other betrayed spouses tell you to 'just stop thinking about it and be so present'even though thoughts don't work that way and feelings certainly do not. While everyone tells you that marriages can't survive without aex so you 'have to' even though the same doesn't apply to the the marriage not being able to survive with the std they gave you.

It's giving your betrayed spouse another chance even though you're the one with more to lose, because despite having to learn that you'll 'be okay no matter what', if they betray you again it might actually be worse than the first time and you'll have to recover from that before you can be okay. Meanwhile they start a new relationship soon after and treat the new person better, which is fine because it's okay for WS even on their first posts to be told they should work not themselves not for their BS but for themselves and possible new relationships, before they've even atonned for breaking the current one and the current person.

It means accepting that your partner is a liar and you'll never really know if they're being authentic with you and all the phrases and positive stories in the world of SI and out of it won't give you peace, because you should not have live feeling that way. You deserve better than to question everything and yourself and no self care will change the fact that you've been treated cruelly and made to deal with it predominantly on your own, while your spouse's main job is to do what you've been doing all along- being faithful.

It's all of this, and knowing that your life is diminished, but trying to keep hope that somehow it's better this way or that you can have the same amount as happiness that you would have had otherwise, even though that's not really true for you. But you can't feel that way because 'others have healed and they say otherwise'. Because it's not okay to admit that you feel your life has been ruined by the one who claims to love you, as if you wouldn't know, even though you're the only living it.

It's being the one that gives more and gets less out of the relationship, because no one wants a 'better relationship'and 'spouse' at the expense of their happiness, when they are still dying inside. Because they still can't trust that they are number 1. Because a marriage can't be 'stronger'than before if reconcialtion happened the before but won't happen again. Because the fact is if you love someone then you care about their happiness and well being and don't do anything to jeopardize that.

Which is why betrayeds are selfless. Because they have to be held to that standard of love. Have to give that love while knowing they will never ever ever get it back from their WS.

ashesofkali posted 2/11/2020 19:52 PM

Thank you, Brokenlifer. I think your response is totally on point.

wantstorepair posted 2/17/2020 12:08 PM

Volunteered today at the local soup kitchen with my daughter, who has unfortunately learned from me and has very selfish and narcissistic traits. Humility, selflessness, kindness and gratitude are the right ways to treat others, to be and to live life. Going over to see my BW now and act the way a good person should.

3greatkids posted 2/18/2020 08:40 AM

You can volunteer all you want, but at the end of the day if youíre spending hours talking about what you did volunteering, including tales of how you broke the rules to be extra benevolent and went out of your way to find people to talk to to get them to look up to you as a mentor, I donít think you are acting selfless at all. Youíre acting for you and your self congratulatory pats on your back that you are a ďgoodĒ person, and if you get some others to admire you along the way even better.

But you donít seem to think my opinion matters much at all.

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