Exploring Misguided Acts of Selflessness

Updated: Feb 12

We celebrate selfless acts without taking a moment to analyze the psychology of modern day selflessness.

Many, if not all, acts of modern day selflessness are rooted in the desire for external validation. So one must ask oneself, if a kind gesture or an act is done with the intention of receiving praise from all the eyes watching... (our handy smartphones are live-streaming to make that possible), then how selfless are those acts, really?

If the misery or circumstances of those around you appear as an opportunity to portray yourself as a well-to-do human being... an opportunity that you seize, then that’s exploitation and not selflessness.

There are many people who put themselves at a disadvantage to help others, you have a bone to pick with those people, too?

Not a bone, necessarily. Maybe a few clarifying questions if ever we meet at a cocktail party.

I recognize that our society rewards and holds in high-esteem those who self-sacrifice themselves for the, “greater good.”

Self-sacrifice translates as many different things. All the examples I could provide boil down to putting oneself in harm’s way to help or elevate those who need additional support.

Look at Mother Theresa. A well respected, highly viewed human being who dedicated her life to the service of those around her.

She’s the benchmark.

Immediately, many of us feel demotivated. If Mother Theresa is the depiction of true selflessness... then maybe dedicating oneself to the service of others is too tall an order to accomplish. Maybe... Myself and others like me, who are not carrying MT’s torch, are just not that good of persons to ready ourselves to the task.

Except, I disagree.

I believe the great majority of us are very good people. I think we may have a distorted lens of what, “being good” looks like, and how that translates in our daily lives.

If there is anything that COVID-19 has taught me, it’s that martyrdom is overrated.

Not just overrated, to aspire to be a martyr is irresponsible.

What?! You have a problem with Mother Theresa?? During the holidays!! Goodness...