Sunday, February 5, 2012

Redefining selfishness (again)

I was reading the book, Who'd You Put Your Panties on for Today? this morning, and feeling frustrated with the author. "This woman is selfish, controlling, and she's driving me crazy!"

I kept reading... mostly because the book was a gift, and I wanted to be able to say nice things about it.
About half way through, she finally said something that warmed me up to her a bit:
"I realized I was putting my panties on for me, and I was expecting everyone else to put their panties on for me too."
Now we're getting somewhere.

In the book up to this point, this woman wanted things perfect. The rug straight. Her children, friends, husband, and family to look and be a certain way. And she thought that by telling them how (and really who) she wanted them to be, she was "putting her panties on for herself". It was a big wakeup call to her when she finally saw things as they are. (She was expecting everyone else to do things her way, and by demanding that she was not taking care of herself like she thought. In reality demanding others to be and do what she wanted was hurting them and herself.)

Redefining selfishness (again):
I used to believe selfish was living my life for myself. That's not true. That's healthy living. Doing EXACTLY what I need and want to do.

Selfish is expecting others to live their life for me.

It is not selfish to take care of myself. It is not selfish to have wants, needs, desires, and to go after them.
It IS selfish to expect others to take care of me. It IS selfish to expect other people to give me my needs, wants, and desires just because I want them. It IS selfish to expect others to sacrifice their wants, needs and desires for mine.

Expressing wants and desires = taking care of myself. Owning my voice.
Expecting others to give me my wants just because I express them = being dependent on another person. Giving them my voice. In this scenario, my voice (sharing my wants, thoughts, desires) is only worth what they give me as a result of my speaking up. If they give me what I want, it was a good thing to ask for what I needed. If they don't, then I shouldn't have asked.

Asking for what I want is NOT about what others do. The part that is important is just saying what I want... it doesn't matter what comes after that.

(By the way, I liked the rest of the book. It was a fun read. Using panties as a way to explain self-care and healthy change. It was like reading her journal - traveling and learning right along with her... I enjoyed that. Plus there's lots of sketches of different types of underwear.)


  1. I think it's possible to use that definition to define people as selfish if they need help.

    This is problematic, because a lot of people (conservatives, objectivists, lousy parents) do exactly that.

  2. interesting thoughts. I like them, but I also wish this world was more community like. say if we all put on our panties for eachother. with and equal give and take on everyones behalf... I know, I am dreaming.