This article turned out to be more complicated than I thought. Several times he sat down and put it aside. Something inside resisted and raised the topic with a creak, as if not wanting to give up some outdated positions and beliefs about greed and selfishness. Probably, if you ask a layman to describe these phenomena, most likely examples of actions of the type: “selfishness is when …” … As I see it, there is no selfishness or greed. There are only elements that, like pixels on a monitor, create their illusory images. And while we do not distinguish between these constituent particles, the image seems to be complete and real. This metaphor with pixels fits just about any phenomenon. In this article I will try to decompose selfishness and greed into elements.
The fabric of greed and selfishness
At the event level, we consider those people who do not want to share their benefits with us as selfish greedy ones. That is, according to this logic, absolutely any person who refuses to give us their assets – be it money, personal time, or any property – can become a greedy person in our eyes.
And here the right question sounds like this: under what conditions do other people donate their goods to us? When does one person want to give something to another? The answer to this question is as simple as it is unacceptable for the self-esteem of the average person. So, the benefactor donates his goods under such conditions, when he wants to please. That is, if a person wants to look good in our eyes, he will probably be capable of the so-called generosity towards our person.
On the contrary, we consider those people who do not try to please us to be greedy egoists. Why don’t they try? Because the bad ones? We, of course, think so – the most convenient thing. Or maybe because we are bad? This is a double-edged sword. A person does not try to please us when he does not see the reasons for this. We are not saints, and we usually strive to please others when we feel that it is beneficial for us. That is, wanting to look good in someone’s eyes, we somehow expect to get something …
And this is where our long-suffering pride comes into play, on one side of which there is an inferiority complex, and on the other – a sense of self-importance. No wonder they say that pride is the father of all vices.
We feel someone else’s greed when we worry that we are not loved and respected, but only used for our benefits. We crave sincere unconditional love for our own person, which, by and large, only saints and some mothers are capable of in relation to their children. We deceive ourselves into hoping that such love is possible. But in fact, we live in a world of consumer relations, where everyone loves not unconditionally, but for some reason – for specific qualities, traits and properties.
We are all “corrupt creatures”, bribing each other in our relationships, who can do what they can. And when we lack real benefits, we master the art of advertising – positioning illusory images and qualities. We don’t know who we are to earn love and respect with an artificial image. And this is still half the trouble. It would be fine if we did so deliberately. But at some point, we lie so much that we ourselves begin to believe that we really are that very normal good person, whose image we demonstrate to everyone around us. This is how neuroses arise in discord with themselves – psychosomatic ailments that poison our lives.
We become greedy owners when we want to control our relationships with other people. We try to control other people’s feelings when we want to be loved and respected unconditionally – that is, for no reason. Otherwise, we feel false – a humiliating deception, such a disgusting experience, as if a person really does not love us at all, and will throw us out of our existence as soon as we stop sponsoring his presence in our life. But after all, as already mentioned – we are not saints and do not know how to love for nothing!
Even when the so-called “greed” is shown by a stranger whom we have not seen before, we may have a neurotic reaction, because behind someone’s frugality, we find a “disrespectful” attitude towards our person.
In other words, greed and selfishness is a personal fear that we are loved not just like that, but for some reason. Just latently, we feel when they want to make mugs out of us, and as a big and pure love to push through a typical corrupt relationship. And honesty often does not quite suit us either, because we still want to believe in love!
Most of all friendships and friendships also revolve around such mutually beneficial neuroses. And if a person doesn’t want anything from us, our wounded pride can christen him a bastard. But in fact, there is nothing wrong with someone else’s indifference. It’s just that someone seemed uninteresting to someone – maybe the person is tired, he has little time, or he is annoyed by the drawing on our shirt. Everyone has their own preferences. This is fine. But this fact seems all the more humiliating, the more expectations we wind up around the victim of our needs.
The traumatic fact for the layman’s pride in the body of an adult is that no one owes anything to anyone. And if we thought differently, then this is our personal problem.
For personal mental health, it is better to be a conscious gigolo or a prostitute who is aware of his position, rather than a neurotic who expects free “unconditional” love from others.
Motives of greed and selfishness
So it turns out that if a person acts honestly, without covering up his true motives with a noble lie, then he becomes a “bad” greedy and “ruthless” egoist who did not want to stand on ceremony with our neuroses.
Sometimes we think of people who are selfish and take care of their attention and value their personal time. It seems like if a person does not read our useless spam somewhere on VKontakte, it means that he is a cunning egoist who, instead of being imbued with our profound “nonsense”, is engaged in some of his own completely useless affairs for us.
Often, we like to explain our own need for free freebies with someone else’s egoism. After all, it is much easier to lure ready-made benefits from the haves than to earn them yourself. It seems like if a person managed to provide for himself, it would be nice for him to like it, so that now he will provide for our person, since he is so good at it.
In order for a person to be our debtor, it is not necessary for him to like him. To draw out other people’s benefits, you can flatter, humiliate yourself, appeal to pity, a sense of duty, nobility, superiority, greatness and other signs of a “good” person. Anything will do that will make the “generous” benefactor prove that he is not a greedy or selfish person.
We consider “bad” people to be egoists, whom it is customary to condemn and even punish in some way. In the novel, I vocalized in detail the idea that each person ultimately does everything exclusively for himself. Everyone obeys the law of the carrot and stick. No matter who is in front of us – a hero, a villain, an office worker, a loving mother – no one can do otherwise. We are all Pavlov’s dogs, subject to two basic reflexes of pain and pleasure. Each of us in this life simply avoids pain and chooses the thrill – whoever knows how.
We all wander after the carrot of pleasant sensations. Geniuses, sages and other advanced users are no different from typical outsiders – the same pursuit of highs. The difference between all of us is that everyone has access to their own unique sources of happiness.
Rude people act rudely, ripping off superficial impressions, not because they are “bad”, but because they cannot do otherwise. Exactly so – roughly and superficially accessible at their stage, the thrill pulls the levers of their mind.
Far-sighted “wise men” enjoy life subtly with the least amount of destructive consequences, because they distinguish such threads of happiness, pulling for which they get their own, unattainable for others.
No one can do otherwise. Everyone obeys those impulses that he is able to discern on the periphery of his consciousness. We are all products of inevitable personal experience.
There is a kind of global stereotype that says that the right people should do the right thing. And if you are wrong, but greedy and selfish, then you must experience shame, fear and other unpleasant impulses that should prompt you to correct yourself in order to correspond to this global stereotype.
As a result, our omnipotent mind is pushed around by two additional springs: self-respect and self-flagellation. Following the standards, we respect ourselves, breaking the rules – we gnaw. This is how the global law of the carrot and stick is realized in the social world, prompting us to prove our normality. On this topic, progressman.ru already has a number of articles under the tag “pride”.
All our behavior, all noble intentions and lofty aspirations obey the simple impulses “pleasant” and “unpleasant”. But we do not want to believe that we are so primitive … Therefore, we choose to think that our “right” actions are not at all from the joy of self-affirmation, but a manifestation of some holy magnanimity.
There is no greed or selfishness. There is only our self-esteem, driven by a continuous race of self-assertion, eternally scanning reality in search of love and respect.
And there is nothing wrong with social bartering, where everyone shares what they have. Simply, in order to avoid neurotic fears, when making an exchange, you should not cheat, presenting self-promotion as reality. And then this exchange of “energies” may well be called mutual assistance.
© Igor Satorin
Other articles on this topic:
- Selfishness as a stage of development
- Should we love?
- Self-control, hard work and willpower as selfish fictions in the mind
- Vanity, pride and humiliation