It occurred to me that some people might think “Why should I care if someone thinks I’m an asshole?” I think that is valid- to a certain extent, you shouldn’t!
One of the things I’ve been striving for is being myself and not caring so much what others think of me. You can’t please everyone so one action I take can be perceived as good & positive by one person and annoying & intrusive by another.
The same can be said of my ideas. Carlin once said in one of his sets he felt self-help stuff was garbage- that life is not that difficult and really doesn’t require the help of gurus.
For myself, I have been puzzled by many things in life, wondering what to do in certain circumstances. Part of that has been due to a lack of confidence- perhaps I really do know what to do but doubt my instincts. Sometimes asking the advice of others (friends, family, counselor, self-help book etc….). At other times, I’ve been confused because I don’t know how to stand up for myself, which is related to lacking confidence. I could go on and on.
If seeking advice from someone other than yourself is beneficial, go for it!
For those of us who have empathy and care about others, we don’t want our style of living to be a burden to people. If we’re not married to certain habits and willing to change those so as to make others comfortable, let’s do so.
I will take myself for example. I once wanted to control as much as possible, particularly what others thought of me. If I felt someone had a misunderstanding of me or an action I took, I might try to control the situation by explaining myself and why I did what I did and so on. Once I understood the concept of focusing only on myself and my actions, I let go of others’ opinions of me and attempting to explain myself.
This ties in to “being myself.” I continue to struggle with my natural, introverted desires to have “me” time and when I have go out in public, I prefer to be left alone. I don’t want to talk to sales people, I don’t (usually) want to chat with people I know I’ve bumped into unexpectedly, and I don’t want to flirt with strangers. This can be perceived as being rude, aloof and asshole-ish.
But mostly, being an asshole has more to do with intent. Being selfish, lacking empathy, and purposely making others uncomfortable when it benefits you is different than my introversion. At one point, I went so far as to experiment with being more friendly and warm and I found it actually stressed me out because what came along with that action is that I was caring too much how people perceived me and when they didn’t respond in kind, it pissed me off. It was creating expectations in me that made me feel worse than before.
In my opinion, we should care about ourselves first- be as healthy and content as possible. Once that part is reasonably maintained, then we can move on to worrying about others because if we aren’t fit, there is no point in making sure others are. If we haven’t been maintaining our well-being, we can become resentful, run down, and hypocritical.
Again, I’ll use the airplane analogy- flight attendants tell you during the safety demo that if you are sitting next to someone who might need help in an emergency, place your mask on first before helping them. You can follow that to the logical conclusion that if you are too busy helping the person next to you and run out of oxygen before you have successfully put their mask on, now there are two people in jeopardy. If you help yourself first and successfully get your mask on, you can easily help the person next to you.
So we should care about the suggestions I’m making insofar as 1) It will help with our own health and 2) it contributes to the well-being of others. Ultimately the well-being of others creates a net gain of well-being for us. So perhaps it’s selfish but the seeds we sow today may not see benefits until further down the road.
Think about it.