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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My counselor tells me that I need to be more selfish and in turn manipulative in relationships overall.


This is due to my approach of taking other people's needs and concerns and giving them more precedent and care than my own. I reflect, think through, and make decisions entirely on the grounds of trying to put other peoples concerns and seeing to that they are happy. Inadvertently, this translates to me having a hard time "letting lose" because I live in a world where I constantly put other people first. To reiterate, I think through and plan ahead for every single situation as to avoid any discomfort for others.

Many may think I am crazy or unhealthy but must I find are grateful. I find this to be my biggest strength and also my biggest weakness, changing it is not an option as it is who I am and I embrace it.

For those of you who live with an empathetic heart or have a precise insight into the mind and nature of such a position I ask: What tricks have you learned to live with such a disposition?

I am not insecure or anxious person. I am rather independent. Though when I let other people into my life I tend to start having trouble, often because I'll often form one sided relationships and long term emotional neglect turns into insecurity and anxiety. I do not have a hard time opening up. I imagine myself as a castle surrounded by a city of which has a second layer of walls. Inside my castle walls pertain to being vulnerable and open to others emotionally - truly caring and embracing others as a whole. Many people have a hard time with this, but letting people in is something that you must learn how to do if you wish to truly care for someone. Though, since I am just now addressing and learning to bring other people to be content and creating healthy relationships while also staying true to my very devoting and giving self, I have learned to keep people out of my city. I have become rather solitary, to compensate for the fact that I have no inner castle walls.

I wish to learn to live openly with my heart on my shoulder. I wish to learn to dance in the rain and avoid getting wet, to avoid exploding the minefield of life. I have only now accepted the premise that I am a human being with needs to and that I need to learn to be content for asking for other people's effort, instead of just hoping they treat me the way I treat them.

"TLDR: I am asking for your experiences, thoughts, and advice on learning to and managing to live a selfless life."
 

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I'm trying to think of how to describe this, but the words just aren't coming out right. Mostly, to realize that when someone else is in pain, or in trouble, they're the ones that ultimately have to climb out of their own hole. It sounds like it should be stressful and sad to watch, but for myself at least, it actually brings a lot of peace to know that. Life has its ups and downs, we all get the unlucky cards dealt to us, and healing and growth both take time. There's no shortcut that a friend can give to inner peace; you really are just there to enjoy the ride with them...or not. Yeah, acts of kindness and love count, but what really matters is your presence.

Two other things as a matter of fact help me keep balance too: I can't help anyone when I'M out of whack..that makes as much sense as a man with a broken leg trying to help another man win a race!...and also there's a difference between "helping" and "enabling". Sometimes being selfish and strict is because you're refusing to spoil the other person, not because you're being mean or thoughtless.
 

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For those of you who live with an empathetic heart or have a precise insight into the mind and nature of such a position I ask: What tricks have you learned to live with such a disposition?
I try to remember that I don't want anything from anyone. So all that I do is out of my own desire and if it's not reciprocated, it's okay; there was never any expectation.

but letting people in is something that you must learn how to do if you wish to truly care for someone.
Conventional wisdom says it is wrong but sometimes I wonder that maybe if you truly care, it's about having enough strength to never let them in.

I wish to learn to live openly with my heart on my shoulder. I wish to learn to dance in the rain and avoid getting wet, to avoid exploding the minefield of life.
Accept that you are nothing and learn to love; yourself; gain everything. Put away your umbrella and become the lightning rod.
 
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Using words like selfish and manipulative hints to me that your perspective on this matter is slightly askew. You're a person too, and if you don't take care of your own needs you could never help others. No matter how infinite your good intentions are, as a human being you are limited and fragile, which means you cannot give as much as your mind believes it can. Don't manipulate yourself or be selfish against yourself on behalf of the world. It doesn't deserve it if you think that's right.

I fully realize how arousing and calling the emotions related to martyring and being the one others need are, but those who are caught in this delicious state of mind are prone to neglect more rational perspectives. It is of course obvious that others will often need help and that you do make the world a better place by intervening, but then again there might be other times where those who are unfortunate would develop more by fixing their own problems, and where to draw the line on that is terribly complicated and nerve-wrecking, but to spread as much good and sustainability in the world as you can, that distinction must be made.

I have a girlfriend whom I guess it's fair to say used to be dependent on me, and despicable as it is I actually enjoyed that. It was delightful and proof of my good nature that someone whom I adored so much would have crashed emotionally had it not been for me saving her like a martyr by giving up my time, ear, heart and resources.
Of course I had to realize that all of that could only be temporarily. My role had to be to get her back on her feet and thus help her become independent and whole again. I succeeded and luckily we're still together, but had I continued giving her fish instead of a fishing pole it would have been unethical, stupid, and ended up badly for the both of us.
 

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What comes to mind is the so called 'cancer personality' or type D personality that cares and gives until they become sick themselves.
 

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My counselor tells me that I need to be more selfish and in turn manipulative in relationships overall.


This is due to my approach of taking other people's needs and concerns and giving them more precedent and care than my own. I reflect, think through, and make decisions entirely on the grounds of trying to put other peoples concerns and seeing to that they are happy. Inadvertently, this translates to me having a hard time "letting lose" because I live in a world where I constantly put other people first. To reiterate, I think through and plan ahead for every single situation as to avoid any discomfort for others.

Many may think I am crazy or unhealthy but must I find are grateful. I find this to be my biggest strength and also my biggest weakness, changing it is not an option as it is who I am and I embrace it.

For those of you who live with an empathetic heart or have a precise insight into the mind and nature of such a position I ask: What tricks have you learned to live with such a disposition?

I am not insecure or anxious person. I am rather independent. Though when I let other people into my life I tend to start having trouble, often because I'll often form one sided relationships and long term emotional neglect turns into insecurity and anxiety. I do not have a hard time opening up. I imagine myself as a castle surrounded by a city of which has a second layer of walls. Inside my castle walls pertain to being vulnerable and open to others emotionally - truly caring and embracing others as a whole. Many people have a hard time with this, but letting people in is something that you must learn how to do if you wish to truly care for someone. Though, since I am just now addressing and learning to bring other people to be content and creating healthy relationships while also staying true to my very devoting and giving self, I have learned to keep people out of my city. I have become rather solitary, to compensate for the fact that I have no inner castle walls.

I wish to learn to live openly with my heart on my shoulder. I wish to learn to dance in the rain and avoid getting wet, to avoid exploding the minefield of life. I have only now accepted the premise that I am a human being with needs to and that I need to learn to be content for asking for other people's effort, instead of just hoping they treat me the way I treat them.

"TLDR: I am asking for your experiences, thoughts, and advice on learning to and managing to live a selfless life."
I cannot speak for others, however, for mine own self, I find great satisfaction in the emotional realm, (and I'm going to get deeper than my normal public self generally allows) by giving to the needs of others, and in that obtaining my own personal gratification. I understand the position of the counsel that was given you, but for me, it wouldn't be the best way. Especially when it comes to intimacy and the most intimate of subject matter. And manipulation on any level isn't honest or in the other's best interest. Having said that, I understand what it is to introvert one's self.

The really hard part here is understanding that some want everyone to be like them, or acceptable by some other defined standard. Cookie cutters. Everyone looks the same. But embracing the rarity and the way in which a person is, makes us the most unique and attractive. I know as corny as this sounds, good ol' Phil McGraw (Dr. Phil) says it correctly, in that the success in relationships are not by some standard of how good you may measure up to a societal frame or someone else's standard, but by the way in which we accept and allow the freedom of others into our relationships with them. He then goes on to use a real life example of a person who is multi-personality and the success of their marriage, because the partner knows how to accept them for who they are. You can never please everyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Conventional wisdom says it is wrong but sometimes I wonder that maybe if you truly care, it's about having enough strength to never let them in.
When it comes to helping people I can definitely agree in some situations, i was just using that statement to show that I am comfortable with myself. I have found myself in situations where I realized that I was no longer helping a person but I was the help. When people just transfer their problems to you are no longer helping, just a part of the problem now.


Using words like selfish and manipulative hints to me that your perspective on this matter is slightly askew. You're a person too, and if you don't take care of your own needs you could never help others. No matter how infinite your good intentions are, as a human being you are limited and fragile, which means you cannot give as much as your mind believes it can. Don't manipulate yourself or be selfish against yourself on behalf of the world. It doesn't deserve it if you think that's right.
Part of it is a self-worth thing which I am changing. That quote was my initial mindset when I had to wrap my head around it with my counselor. Asking for help for me would make me feel unworthy, which was important to me because if I am not a worthy person I do not deserve to be helping other people. For the same reason I value my emotional stability. I now accept that I need to be asking people for help instead of hope they are the type of person to care. - before I would feel like I was bothering the other person but now I realize that I need to make sure at least my bare minimum is being met.



I cannot speak for others, however, for mine own self, I find great satisfaction in the emotional realm, (and I'm going to get deeper than my normal public self generally allows) by giving to the needs of others, and in that obtaining my own personal gratification. I understand the position of the counsel that was given you, but for me, it wouldn't be the best way. Especially when it comes to intimacy and the most intimate of subject matter. And manipulation on any level isn't honest or in the other's best interest. Having said that, I understand what it is to introvert one's self.
I call it manipulation and selfishness because as a person I am naturally independent (don't feel the need to ask for help) but for those close to me I obviously am going to care for them a lot. This puts me in a very sensitive position as opposed to helping someone I don't know. When other people aren't respectful of how sensitive I am I need to be willing to reach out and ask and create an environment that is healthy for me. IE) A close friend of mine is very emotionally isolate and is going through a tough time. I basically lead every single interaction and take care of her to try and make her feel better as much as I can. (Don't worry I know that she has to deal with her own problems.) She hasn't been one to talk openly or gestures to show that she cares even though I know she cares a great deal for me. So, I am trying to compensate by finding something that she is comfortable - cuddle time!! xD

What comes to mind is the so called 'cancer personality' or type D personality that cares and gives until they become sick themselves.

It would be a shame to think that it is impossible to be a very caring and giving person who puts other people first can't also be a healthy personality style. You may need to make sure that those close to you have a strong, firm, and healthy balance, but once you have a solid basis for taking care of your own needs you can move on to helping others - self actualization.
 

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I call it manipulation and selfishness because as a person I am naturally independent (don't feel the need to ask for help) but for those close to me I obviously am going to care for them a lot. This puts me in a very sensitive position as opposed to helping someone I don't know. When other people aren't respectful of how sensitive I am I need to be willing to reach out and ask and create an environment that is healthy for me. IE) A close friend of mine is very emotionally isolate and is going through a tough time. I basically lead every single interaction and take care of her to try and make her feel better as much as I can. (Don't worry I know that she has to deal with her own problems.) She hasn't been one to talk openly or gestures to show that she cares even though I know she cares a great deal for me. So, I just compensate by finding something that she is comfortable - cuddle time!! xD
I'm not sure if I was helpful then, but I hope you find some solution that makes you comfortable in the situation. Best of luck with it.
 

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Just to be clear, I was saying that conventional wisdom would disagree with the statement I followed with.

I have found myself in situations where I realized that I was no longer helping a person but I was the help. When people just transfer their problems to you are no longer helping, just a part of the problem now.
You're still relieving them of whatever it is they need help with. You might not be coming up with solutions or giving them tools to fight themselves, but you're still helping in some kind of mental or emotional aspect.

As with some of the other things you've said, I think that being able to put others first isn't always unhealthy or a bad trait. That is assuming that you have your own basic needs met so that you aren't searching for a barter situation.

In those cases there's no need to put yourself first because you're just the starting position. Everyone else is a step ahead or towards your agenda.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You're still relieving them of whatever it is they need help with. You might not be coming up with solutions or giving them tools to fight themselves, but you're still helping in some kind of mental or emotional aspect.
I see what you are saying now, and realized I spoke in general terms when I was referring to a specific instance. I had a situation where I was helping someone and they got to a point to where they said that if I don't help them they were going to commit suicide. I would agree that yeah it is possible for someone to be dependent on you as long as you are helping them get back on their feet in the long term. I just also know in my experience that co-dependence can be taken to far.

So yes, now that I understand what you are saying. I agree. Most conventional wisdom forewarning it only applies the general populous who doesn't really have their sticks in a row.
 

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@MewMeu that makes sense. I wonder if not having their sticks in a row goes hand in hand with a lack of education/knowledge. i.e. what happens in the cases where one is very well off, educated, perfect family etc... but is lacking the experience overall, not knowing/recognizing signs of codependency.

In your case you seem to be better off having experience and guidance from your counselor. I also wonder, does this make it harder or easier now, to love? A bit rhetorical, no real need to respond.
 

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Are you familiar with the conventional story of Atlas? He was punished for going against the Gods and condemned to hold the Earth on his shoulders for all of eternity. Rather than plead for forgiveness, he instead asked for broader shoulders. Selfless people, when provided with greater strength, tend to look towards more ways to devote it to others.

Speaking for myself, I have a tendency to idealize or romanticize unbelievably close bonds with people -- it's something I crave deeply. I love being able to nurture, empower, or offer guidance when it is needed. Truthfully, it's satisfying for me to have an outlet for my affection or warm & positive thoughts that I can basically smother someone with, haha. I understand not everyone likes that sort of attention and may find it overwhelming, so I try to devote it more-so towards people with clingy or needy personalities as they'll make the most of it without me having to subdue myself. Truthfully, my own needs are rather minimal as I'm highly self reliant, but if I have a gift or a curse, the smallest modicum of good intention or good will towards me is something I can amplify by a thousand to make me feel amazing. Give me a drop of gasoline and we can circle the country.

In any case, from my experience there are three primary types of people that need help.
#1 Emotional vampires -- I swear this is a core trait for some and they will never deviate from this. Doesn't matter who you are, I'm not even sure they ever really look at your face, but they'll suck the life right out of you. They are permanently in crisis mode.

#2 Those who need help, but are emotionally unavailable to do much for you. Helping these sort of people is like helping a bird with a broken wing. You nurture them, but you don't really speak their language (or rather, they don't speak yours). Once they're healed they fly away -- you typically have to pat yourself on the back with these sort of people, since they will rarely do it for you.

#3 Are those who are highly appreciative and maybe even say STOP! Something in their conscience says ya, maybe they are struggling, but you're important too. You reassure them you don't need anything or whatever, but they'll stubbornly fight with you to effectively lean on them in a way. They want to be there for you and be closer to you rather than just your patient. **These are the sort of people you want to find**

Steer clear of #1. #2 Isn't so bad, but don't really invest yourself too much and just appreciate it as a moment or blip in your life, #3 try to lock them down as they tend to be lifers and really good for you.

I'm rambling like hell though, but when I volunteer on a Help / Suicide line I've always had people that apologize to me for calling in and basically by their own accounts, whining. They hate wasting my time or basically feeling like a burden or drain when maybe other people are trying to call in for help as well. I always tell them that I'm not interacting with them as some sort of charity or anything, but rather that I'm also learning and growing through their stories so if anything I should be thanking them. What I'm saying though is sometimes it's a matter of perspective of creating and drawing energy from people in unlikely ways. I think you can still live a selfless lifestyle while getting your needs met. Sometimes helping others is a form of therapy for yourself.
 

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@Lad Don't forget to keep an eye out for number one's that suck you in with/without either of you knowing it until you're both in too far and too invested.

I think this is where the cliché of putting yourself first really makes sense and where one really needs to be able to think for themselves, while having access to objective information. There are universal tips for a reason.
 
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Sometimes, I'll stay at work for an additional 40 minutes to put everything in its proper place for those coming back in the morning.
The fast pace and number of distractions often make this necessary past quitting time to actually get done (even though I have already been drained by all of the interaction of the day).

Most of it is out of kindness and my current routine (the co-workers have families, obligations, etc., where, in contrast, I go home to a clean slate and no one waiting for me), but part of it is out of fear of being seen in a negative light by others for not doing my share.
I'm of the mind (perhaps wrongly) that if you miss one task the night before, the trail of gossip and chatter will turn the one failure into two dozen oversights, and suddenly, you're guilty of everything evil all the way back to 1692.

With that, I'm often guilty of overkill, just to keep everything completely peaceful at work.
The small price I'm paying for my good deeds comes in the form of being used by others (a typical INFJ bulls-eye); there are others at work that will take longer breaks because they know from past practice that I'm going to work right through mine.

In all, I'd have to guess that 80% of my caregiving is natural, spontaneous, and out of kindness.
The other 20% is obligation out of fear of being judged negatively.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
@MewMeu that makes sense. I wonder if not having their sticks in a row goes hand in hand with a lack of education/knowledge. i.e. what happens in the cases where one is very well off, educated, perfect family etc... but is lacking the experience overall, not knowing/recognizing signs of codependency.

In your case you seem to be better off having experience and guidance from your counselor.
I suppose even if a person wasn't aware of the dangers of codependency but was emotionally stable I don't think it would matter. That being said, I really don't think someone who doesn't have their sticks in a row would understand how to really and properly take care of someone. (My favorite is watching people push their own agenda onto other people.)


To be honest, I have learned this from trial and error over the course of my life. I started helping people beginning early on in high school. I go to a counselor when I need a sound board for figuring out a problem. (I realized that I was acting insecure/anxious when that is not who I am and realized I was neglecting myself and was looking for how to justify being more selfish/manipulative as to at least meet my bare needs. By accepting that I am a human being with needs and that in order to help people I have to be healthy myself.)


I also wonder, does this make it harder or easier now, to love? A bit rhetorical, no real need to respond
Incredibly easy, I am the most emotionally open and comfortable person I know - (so much that it pushes some more insecure people away). I balance this by being very selective by who I let into my life. If you read my analogies about castles in the HEAD post, I have learned to welcome and embrace people with open arms. I leave the door to my castle open and I live with my heart on my shoulder. To be able to really care for someone, you have to be able to do so with care and compassion. It is really hard to care for someone without being empathetic, it is hard to embrace someone with a metal wall between the two of you. Helping other people is about being able to pull someone close to you and treating them as your own.

@Lad

Very well said and you take the same approach and mindset as I have it. My biggest problem with making close friends is with how young I am, few other people are comfortable enough with themselves to be okay with my "tendency to idealize or romanticize unbelievably close bonds with people". as you say. I am also incredibly "self-reliant" and all I ask is for the smallest gestures and I too will take you around the country and back. Just the instance that had me write this, is that my best and only friend is completely isolate - no understatement.
 

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@MewMeu I find knowing makes it harder, because it creates new restrictions and possible realities.
 
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