I speak often of selflessness as being necessary for relationships and a good life. However, selflessness can because a vice of itself if we are not careful. Everyone is a well. Selfless acts deplete that well a bucket at a time. Everyone needs time to refill that well. While it seems selfish to want and even need time alone, it is the basis for our ability to help others. A dry well cannot help anyone.
Really, by being too selfless and depriving ourselves we are being selfish. We fail to help people as they need simply because we haven’t taken care of ourselves. We grow sick, agitated, and deadened. We just become a shell. In turn, that deprives people of what really helps them: you. It deprives them of your personality, your energy, your interests, and all the many things that make you you. The best way of helping people is by simply spending time with them without seeking anything. The best way to be selfless is by just being.
Selflessness can become a way to avoid ourselves. We all have problems we rather not face. By being too other-centric we can avoid many of them. Of course this is selfish! We are depriving others of our best selves when we fail to address our internal problems. We are distracted by our distractions. Problems whisper from the corners of the mind. Most martyrs nail themselves to the cross of avoidance. They proudly flaunt their thorns while they shudder at the lashes within.They are too afraid to really live a whole healthy life.
The best way to be selfless is by taking care of ourselves first. We cannot love anyone if we do not first love ourselves: “love thy neighbor as thyself.” The spiritually starved cannot help anyone; they only spread disease. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying selfishness and greed are good things. They are sins against our fellow beings and ourselves. We just have to take care of ourselves, be of sound mind and body, before we can reasonable expect to help others or establish a healthy relationship.
While people can help us, we are responsible for our own thinking and behavior. You need to take a hard look at yourself moment by moment to see if you are on the course you want to take. A full life requires healthy selflessness and self awareness. A full life requires time alone to reflect and rest.