Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker: Life Coach for Empaths, Highly Sensitive People & People Pleasers

When Someone Calls You Selfish

February 15, 2024 MaryAnn Walker Episode 82
Inner Work With MaryAnn Walker: Life Coach for Empaths, Highly Sensitive People & People Pleasers
When Someone Calls You Selfish
Show Notes Transcript

In today's episode, we're diving into a topic that hits close to home for many of us: the fear of being seen as selfish. It's a struggle we've all faced, especially those of us who genuinely enjoy lending a helping hand. Let's break it down together:

Understanding "Selfishness":   Being selfish means not considering others' needs. Interestingly,  it's those who are most considerate of others who often worry the most about being selfish.

Imagining Judgment: Saying "no" might lead to judgment. But here's the thing: how others perceive us isn't entirely in our control. Their thoughts and actions are about them, not us.

Self-Assessment Tips: Take a moment to reflect on a recent situation, think about the emotions driving your actions, and remember that other people's opinions aren't the whole story.

Spotting Unbalanced Relationships: Using Anna and Sarah's story, we talk about how accusations of selfishness often reveal more about the accuser than the accused. By journaling about our actions and theirs, we can uncover any imbalances in our relationships.

Empowerment Through Boundaries: Setting boundaries isn't selfish; it's essential for healthy relationships. Let's flip the script from feeling guilty to feeling empowered.

Just a reminder: we're only responsible for our own actions. If you found this episode helpful or if you want suppor around learning how to say no, click the link to message me. I'm happy to coach you through it.

Well, hello and welcome back. So today we're going to be talking about what happens when somebody calls you selfish. Now, as you know, I work with the helpers, the healers and the people pleasers, and this is honestly one of their greatest concerns is, but what if somebody thinks I'm being selfish? So first let's kind of explore. What does it even mean to be selfish now, when I ask someone in a coaching session, what does it mean to be selfish more often than not? They're going to say something like, oh, well it's placing your needs above somebody. Else's. And that's really kind of an interesting definition. I think a lot of us use that definition, especially those of us that are people pleasers or recovering people pleasers. Because if the definition is placing your own needs above somebody else's, then this would essentially mean that it would always be considered selfish to meet your own needs. If anyone around you, how to competing Nate, no matter how great, no matter how small. That you would be selfish if you prioritize to self, even if that meant negative consequences for you. So one of the main ideas that I coach on around this idea of being perceived as selfish. Is that your needs are at least as valid as the next persons. It is. Okay. To have your needs met and it's not only okay, but it's actually imperative. That you work to have your own needs met. If you actually desire to have your relationships be long lasting and sustainable for you. So thinking that in order to not be perceived as selfish means that you should never place your needs first is not a very good idea. So now let's kind of turn to the good old dictionary to see what a better definition of selfish might be. Now the dictionary defines being selfish as a lack of consideration for others. Now again, I work with the helpers, the healers and the people pleasers, and it is so interesting. That this really is such a great and significant concern for this population because going off of this definition, That it's having a lack of consideration for others. Then this population actually in my mind, contains the least selfish people that I know. Because they're highly sensitive to other people's wants and desires. They're highly attuned to what their needs are and because they're so highly attuned to what other people might be needing, it is really hard for them to not be considered. So they're actually working really hard to be considered of others while also maintaining self. And it's kind of this balancing act there. So being selfish is not actually a problem at all for this population. So, let me just get that out of the way. If you're wondering if you were the one who might be selfish in this relationship, if you're the one, having those questions and wondering isn't me. Is it me? Am I being selfish? You're probably not the one who's being selfish. Selfish people. They never even consider the idea that they're being selfish because honestly they feel entitled to whatever it is that they are seeking. They don't even ever question if it's being selfish. So, no, you're probably not being selfish. Even if someone calls you selfish. So imagine for a moment, a situation where someone has asked you for your help or your support. And for whatever reason, you were unable to help. So maybe you were unable to help due to time constraints or your own mental load or your energy level or whatever it is, but you, the one who usually jumps in first to go and help other people and you actually tell everybody else. Yes. You have to actually say no to somebody that you usually say yes to. And maybe when you do that for the first time, maybe they do call you selfish. And they might not use those exact words, but the sentiment is still there. So, for example, they might say, oh, I see who comes first in your world and it's not others. I see where I stand on your list of priorities. I guess you only give to get gain fine. You do. You usually do. Oh, and here, I thought we were in this together, but clearly we are not, or they even might just say, oh, I see how it is. Now if you are a recovering people, pleaser like me, those comments sting, they really hurt deeply. At our natural tendency is to want to change our plans, to accommodate the one who is saying those hurtful things. And of course you get to look at each situation as it arises. So maybe they really are in overwhelm and maybe they really do have a significant need right now. And you choose that, you know what? This is important to them. It's important to me and I do want to prioritize them for this event. So if you do, that's great. That is very kind of, you. And also, if you are constantly being told in this relationship that you are being selfish, maybe step back and assess the whole relationship and know that just because someone might be having a hard time with your lack of availability. it's still does not mean that you are being selfish. So asking yourself some questions rather than taking their comments at face value can be really helpful. So for example, are they making their lack of planning and procrastination your problem? If so they might actually be more upset with themselves and they're just taking it out on you. Or are there other people that could possibly help to fill the need? Is it something that needs to be addressed now? Or is it something that can wait until later? Just start asking yourself a lot of questions and that can help to alleviate a lot of that guilt and that shame. If somebody is accusing you as being selfish. Now when someone is highly attuned to other people's emotional states, like those that listened to this podcast, it is really easy to fall into that people pleasing trap. Of self-sacrifice. It is so hard to be told things that really go against your nature. Right. To be told that we're the ones being selfish and it is so hard to see someone else upset when we have to say no. And oftentimes, because we're so uncomfortable with their upset. We do cave in, we do tend to placate others because we just don't want to see them upset. It breaks our heart to see someone having a hard time. And while this can work out for a little while when it becomes a pattern in relationship, that is when we find ourselves experiencing compassion, fatigue, and burnout. And that does not create a balanced, sustainable relationship. Now, as I said earlier, there might be situations where it really is an emergency and you might choose to help out. I am not by any stretch. Of the imagination suggesting that you just need to say no to anybody who makes a last minute request, but look for, and notice any patterns of behavior. So that you can act accordingly. Notice if there is a significant imbalance when it comes to the giving and the receiving in that particular relationship, not just insignificant times of trial, right? We might make exceptions for those things, but notice, what does it look like in the day to day life and notice if you're starting to experience the burnout and resentment towards those that you're trying to serve and approve your lack of selfishness to. Notice, if it seems like there's maybe like a silent competition happening around whose needs are greater than someone else's, if they're trying to diminish what it is that you are prioritizing at that time, just notice that right. If they're making it a competition in order to prove that no, I need you more than you need. You. Just notice it and then work to see the situation a bit more clearly. Now, let me tell you about Anna and Sarah. Anna and her friend, Sarah had been close friends for years. And Anna has always been supportive and loving and generous and offering help and kindness without expecting anything in return. However lately Anna has been really going through some hard things. She's experiencing a really challenging time and she could really use some support from her friend. So one day, Anna opened up to Sarah about her struggles and expressed a desire for more emotional support. And instead of offering comfort, then Sarah actually reacted negatively to Anna's request. And she said, oh, I see how it is. You're just giving to get something in return. That's how you are. You're not really a true friend. Now in reality, Anna was simply reaching out during a difficult period of life. And she was seeking the reciprocity that she believed was a natural part of their friendship. Unfortunately, Sarah misinterpreted Anna's request for support as opportunistic behavior that she's taking advantage of her in some way, which absolutely undermined the genuine connection that they had once shared. Now if Anna is a people pleaser, her tendency will be to apologize and then shut down. Right. That's what we're going to tend to do is, oh, sorry. I'm so sorry. You're right. I am being selfish and then we're going to shut down. We're not going to be expressing needs in the future. She might even try to make amends to this friend by doing even more for Sarah, which is actually going to result in even more imbalance in the relationship. But now Ann is in a place where she is becoming more aware that this is in fact, a pattern in this particular relationship. And she's noticing not only Sarah's patterns, but also her own patterns. And just to bring even more clarity she has started journaling on the situation. And so after they have an exchange, then Anna is going home and journaling on it to just see if she can deepen her own awareness and her own level of clarity around this particular relationship. She's journaling on the requests that she has fulfilled for Sarah, as well as the requests that Sarah has fulfilled for her. she'll journal on how do I respond when Sarah tells me no. And how does Sarah respond when I tell her no. And this is not as a means of score-keeping, but in an effort to just see things a bit more clearly. When she's being accused of being selfish. And as she does that, she starts to feel a bit more secure in her own motives and her own intentions. She knows her heart. She knows that her heart has been in the right place. And she knows that, you know what, for the most part, I am in a better position to show up. And love and support for Sarah. Then Sarah is to show up for me. But guess what it is still. Okay. For Anna to make requests, to have her need met. It's a hundred percent. Okay. To ask for reciprocation. And Sarah's inability to reciprocate. It does not mean the Ana is being selfish. Now, furthermore, while Sarah was accusing Anna of being selfish, who was actually the one withholding and unwilling to offer love, support and reciprocation. It's just an interesting thing to notice when something might be true or when something might be a projection and it is about the other person. Now it can be so crazy making to be in relationship with someone who is unable to articulate a no, I can't help you with that when they're unable to an offer their help and support. But instead of actually saying no and taking ownership of what's going on for them, when they say, oh, no, you must be selfish because you're asking me to do something. When you have no idea what's going on in my life. And you're making me say no to something, and that makes. Me feel uncomfortable. So instead, I'm going to tell you that you're being selfish. Right. So when that happens, it can be a little bit disorienting, a little bit crazy-making and it's easy to believe their impassioned reaction when they just blurt out that you're being selfish. But remember that just because somebody is saying that you're selfish, it doesn't make it true. So just recognize that. Yeah. When somebody calls me selfish, these are my tendencies, especially if you're a giver, if you're a helper, you're a people pleaser. Of course. When somebody tells you that you're being selfish, of course, you're going to want to take ownership of the imbalance in relationship and work hard to fix it. And you know what? This is honestly why I'm such a huge fan of journaling. Because when somebody is having a huge, emotional reaction, it's harder for us to see those patterns. Now I coach a lot of people who are either currently in imbalanced relationships or they have just left imbalanced relationships and they're still kind of recovering and still kind of in the aftermath from that. And many of them ask me. Okay, well, I've been journaling on this a lot and I'm wondering if I should just get rid of the journals because I find myself ruminating on it. And I tell him, you know, what you can, if you want to. However, if you are still working to heal from this relationship, if you're still working to see things, clearly, if you still are confused as to what happened and what is going on. I find those journals to be very helpful and very supportive because they can help you to see things a bit more clearly. And it really can be very beneficial to look back over those journals, to look for those patterns of behavior, to see how long those imbalances have been there. What things you've tried to see, how often you've tried to see if there's a chance of change, it can bring so much clarity around those relationships. And it will help you to see not only your actions more clearly, but also their actions more clearly. What happens when you make a request? What happens when they make a request? Give yourself all that information and work to see things more clearly. So yes. Keep writing, write it all down, And see what clarity can be gained through that writing expression. maybe they are in fact showing up more often than you think. But as I said, it's hard to see things out of that one particular heated situation when emotions are heightened, it can make it harder to see those things. So journal on it so you can see, okay. Guess what? Like for the most part, yes. They're showing up for me or to see. Okay. Well, yes, for the most part I'm showing up for them and they're not showing up for me. But work to just see those things more clearly, it can just help you to see the imbalances more clearly and help you to let go of any guilt over another person's projection that you are showing up. Selfishly. So to help you with this, I want to share with you three tips to help you to self assess when you're worried that you were the one who's being selfish. So tip number one, reflect. Reflect on the current situation and what is going on there and reflect on your other exchanges with this person as a whole. Was this an off time for either of you? Was this just something in the heat of the moment, or is this a pattern of behavior kind of zoom out a little bit and see what kind of clarity you can find through that reflection. And it might also be helpful to reflect on recent situations where you felt the need to express your desires or maybe. Uh, boundary, right? So you're there making a request or you're stating a boundary that I'm sorry, I can't fulfill a request, but just kind of notice what happens when I say no. And what happens when they say no? And what happens? Describe the scenario and also describe kind of your feelings about it. And remember that a selfish person is someone who lacks consideration for others. So ask yourself that question. Was I being considerate about their situation? Because oftentimes when I think of consideration, it means, well, I need to be considerate and fulfill their request, but true consideration is more about honoring their experience whether or not we can help them. So, for example, you might say something like, I wish I could help you right now, but I actually have prayer commitments that I can't rearrange, but I am more than happy to help you to brainstorm alternatives or find somebody else who can help right now. Or maybe you might say, you know what, I'm unable to provide the help that you're looking for right now, but I really do value our relationship. And I want to make sure that you get the help and the support that you need. So can we explore some options together? Or maybe he might say, Hey, I won't be available until later today, but I will do my best to prioritize your request when I am free. In the meantime, is there somebody else who might be able to let the hand a little bit sooner than me? Now these comments, they both shall support for the one that you're in relationship with while acknowledging their request. And it also honors your time and energy. All right. Number two, consider your motives. Just kind of check in with self, doing that self assessment, regardless of whatever is that they're saying check in with you. Why are you saying no? Are you saying no, because you're feeling burned out. You're unavailable. You have other obligations you need to rest, or are you saying no, because you just want to stick it to them and let them know how much more important you are than they are. How you were feeling when you say no. Can give you a lot of information. And again, my assumption is that if you're listening to this podcast and if saying no is hard for you, you're probably not being selfish. You're probably being very considerate of the other person and really, truly wish that you could help. But you're just unavailable and had to say no, and they're experiencing some feelings around it. Now, oftentimes with this population saying no really is like the hardest thing ever. So that means that you're probably someone who regularly does accommodate others and really wants to show up and love and support whenever you can. So you might hear you are not being selfish. Even if that other person is saying otherwise, All right. Number three. Remember the other people's thoughts and opinions are about them. They're not about you. You are the only one that knows your heart and your energy level and your prior commitments and your current needs. You are the only one that knows those things. And I get it. It can be really hard. When someone is upset with you, or if they're implying that you're being selfish, especially when it is someone that you have invested so much love and time and energy into. That can really hurt. So here are some thoughts to help you to shift your energy around that, to remind you of your own heart and your own intent. Okay. Here we go. Okay. I am someone that loves and serves as I am able. And I love that about me. I know my heart and I no longer allow others' comments to negatively impact me. I am the only one that knows my energy level, my time constraints and my situation. I am the only one that knows what I can and cannot take on right now. Honoring my needs is not selfish. It contributes positively to my relationships as well as to my overall happiness. I choose to prioritize my own needs without guilt, knowing that it actually makes me more resilient and empowered and helps me to show up better in relationship. And I have saved my favorite thought for last. My favorite one is my wants and wishes are at least as valid as theirs. And I'm going to read that one again, because it is a big one. So yes, there are times where one person's need might be more pressing than the others. And in general, your wants wishes and desires are at least as valid as the next persons. And it's okay to seek out relationships that feel balanced and reciprocal. I've said it multiple times on this podcast, but I'm saying it again. I think it is pretty safe to say that if you are listening to this podcast, you are not being selfish. It is okay to ask to have your needs met. And it is okay to say no when you're unable to fulfill somebody's request. And that does not mean you're being selfish. It's really interesting that it's those who constantly love and serve and support that they're often the most afraid of being seen as selfish when really the struggle lies in the concern for others, perceptions of our selfishness. And just because they might think that you're being selfish when you tell them, no, it doesn't mean that you are, and as a side note, there may be people in your life that won't like it. When you tell them no. And they might even heavily imply that you are acting selfishly. And sometimes this is done because they are emotionally immature and they actually don't know how to handle it when somebody tells them no. And other times it might be said in an attempt to manipulate you into either not asking for a separate station or into giving even more into the relationship than you're currently able, but only you get to decide that and it really zooming out and taking time to yeah. Become the observer of behavior and look for those patterns and see what comes up for. You can give you that information to let you know, how do I want to navigate this relationship and what is coming up for me? Now, when you find yourself wondering if you were the one manipulating things self-reflect. Look at your own motives, look at how you have traditionally shown up. And recognize the subjective nature of other people's opinions of us, especially if they're feeling overwhelmed themselves. And remember the asserting your own needs. It is not a selfish act. But it is actually a necessary step towards creating sustainable relationships. This means that if you value the relationship, it is actually vital to create balance and honor your own needs. So to all of the empathetic hearts tuning in, remember that your needs are valid. Your heart is known only to you. And choosing self prioritization is a step towards a more balanced and fulfilling life. Now as always, if this resonates with you and you would like more support come and work with me, I would love to work with you. I'm currently offering six week packages, and I think that you will be amazed at how much we can accomplish in six weeks together. And if you have enjoyed this episode, please leave me a review or share it with a friend. It really does help me to share this message with others and support them on their individual journeys. So I hope you have a great week. You beautiful, selfless souls and let's talk soon. All right, bye now.