Over the last week or two, I've been taking the various fairly-serious psychological tests I've found here and elsewhere. One question has me wondering; it's something like, "Do you put others first?"
Well, no, not really; not me. For example, let's say that I've been craving chocolate cake for days. So I finally make myself one, and the frosting has cooled just enough that I can cut it cleanly, and I get myself a knife, a plate, and a fork, and start to sit down and enjoy.
The doorbell rings. It's a friend or neighbor or family member. She says, "I can only stay for a minute." She sees the cake. She says, "Oohhhhh, I've been craving chocolate cake for days."
So I get another plate and cut her a big piece, and wrap it for her to take home. Maybe I cut her two big pieces. But I keep enough of that cake to satisfy my craving. I'm DEFINITELY not giving her the whole thing.
Since I'm in self-discovery mode these days, I decided to google some relevant words and phrases, to find out what to call this attitude, that you matter as much as other people--and actually somewhat more, to yourself.
There were pages and pages about how great it is to put other people first. Putting *yourself* first brings up pages about being narcissistic and sociopathic. Well, there was one page, about Satanism--which doesn't appeal to me--and there were the blogs of a couple of teenagers who had apparently been let down recently.
But anyway, I don't think I'm sick (and no one has let me down in some huge way lately).
Here's another example, something that actually happened (and makes me look somewhat better, but still not "perfect"):
The other day, I was waiting in a checkout line at a store, wondering if I'd get out in time to catch the bus. A woman behind me, with 2 items, asked me if she could go ahead of me, saying that she was in a hurry. I automatically said yes.
Then I stood there wondering if I really liked that decision, given the possiblity of missing the bus (it only comes by there once an hour). She was still waiting, so I could have explained and gotten back ahead. But then I thought, "She's in enough of a hurry to ask to go ahead, so maybe she's in a bigger hurry than I am. All that can happen to me is that I have to wait an hour for the next bus, and I don't have to be anywhere soon. Maybe she'll miss a plane trip or an important appointment or won't be in time to pick up a child at school." So I said nothing. (As it happened, I was on time for the bus, with about 3 minutes to spare. Life can be so fair at times.)
So I'm not a monster or unfeeling. I enjoy helping other people. There's just a limit on how much I'll give up to help another person. And if the amount of inconvenience to each of us is close, I'll probably choose my own well-being, at least some of the time. To me, my own wants and needs are as important as anyone else's, and since I'm the one living in this skin, mine actually matter more to me. I'm not going around letting myself down and causing myself trouble all the time.
Some people are probably more giving than I am. But ALL??? Or even most?
Also, do you know the word for someone who takes care of himself or herself, sometimes more than others? I mean besides "selfish".