Friday, January 21, 2011

Self-centeredness

                Yesterday a dear friend asked me a really tough question.  “How can people be so self-centered?”  I proceeded to tell her when I discover that she will be the first I reveal the answer too.  Many people will say it is the society we live in today.  To some extent I agree only I believe it is the society all people live in from the beginning of time.  I finished reading Matthew Kelly’s book Rediscovering Catholicism; plus, Tuesday I went to the first of six DVD seminars given by him.  He talks about how there are three philosophies that most people act on.
                Individualism is the philosophy of what is in it for me.  If a person can’t see any positive outcome for themselves, they just won’t do it.  I tend to think this is the reason there are so few volunteers in the world.  Hedonism states if it feels good do it.  Hum, I have to be honest here.  I love chocolate and tend to consume too much of it because it feels good.  Unfortunately this philosophy can cause addictions, end marriages and other negative outcomes.  Finally, there is the minimalist philosophy, what is the least I can do.  Again, I must confess, I do this with my housecleaning.  I also so this a lot in the work place and I see it in peoples relationships with each other. 
                There are many reasons people become self-centered whether they learn it from a parent or have been hurt so many times they use it as a defense mechanism.  The result is they become very greedy people, greedy with their time, emotions, material goods and the like.  They stop thinking of others and only think of themselves.  Proverbs 15:27 states, “He who is greedy of gain brings ruin on his own house….”  In a word, relationships are hurt or worse destroyed.
                How do we fix self-centered adults?  We don’t.  They have to fix themselves.  If we get angry with them, they become justified.  If we try to help them, we become disappointed.  A wise person once told me not so long ago that it is our ego that thinks we can “fix” them.  They continued with only God can fix them.  All we can do is pray.  But, when people hurt us or our loved ones, we still have those rolling black emotions of anger.
                Saint Francis de Sales says we need to “keep…gentleness and humility in our hearts.”  He continues with “gentleness and humility will avert the burning and swelling which contradiction is apt to excite in our hearts.”    And there is the complication, our hearts.  I can only speak for myself, but I think I am not alone.  When I become angry, the cause is because my heart and most likely ego have been hurt.  My defense is to get angry.  Yet, I know with prayer, gentleness, and humility God will get me through the tough times because we can’t avoid all the self-centered people out there.  But during the first moments of anger and sometimes the first months of anger, I wrestle with being holy in my reactions.  I have learned over the years to try and not speak.  If people bring up topics that insight anger, I listen politely and casually change the subject.  I also try to be busy.  I crochet, cook, or pray during times of difficulty with people I know will cause chaos in life.  This is much better then speaking words in anger because this will never help the situation.
                 Are there any techniques you have to stop the anger when dealing with self-centered people?  I definitely could use some more to help me along the journey.
                Blessings to you all.

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