Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another Existential Question

Let me start this by saying that I'm not, by nature, a malicious or manipulative. At least, from inside my head, I don't do things that are malicious or manipulative in their inception or execution. I do have a mean streak, but it's very narrow, and it rarely determines my decisions or actions.

However it has been pointed out lately that I'm selfish and self-centered. I was accused only once of being narcissistic, but the accusation wasn't repeated and after reading what a Narcissistic personality looks like I would take great offense and be quite insulted if I was ever accused so again.

As the youngest child things often went my way just because I was the last one. There were only 2 of us, but I was younger by enough years that my brother didn't want to do any of the things I was doing, and he was gone to college by the time I was in high school. Within reason, pretty much what I preferred we did. But, I was pretty easy going, so often whatever my parents wanted to do, I'd be ok with.

My question is this:

How do you step outside of yourself, look at your actions and reasons objectively, dispassionately, and tell if your motives are largely self-serving?

I admit that often at work I make plans, and then I present them, but it's not that I do it because I don't care what other people are doing, or how it will impact them. Often it's because we need a starting point, a plan to work from. So I set a plan, but it's not usually meant to be set in stone. If someone has a conflict we all need to work around it.

At least that's how it seems in my mind.

But lately it's been pointed out that I don't present it that way, that I present it as ,"This Is The Plan!"

How do you step back from yourself and determine your motives? And especially in the moment, how do you insert the filters so that you start to look for that?

And then, beyond that, what the heck do I tell myself at midnight, when it comes creeping up on me, that I must be a terrible person to work with, to work for, to even be in the same lab with.

I've never thought of myself as a selfish person. In fact, always the opposite.

Which leads me to:

What do I believe about myself? Do I believe what is inside me? Do I believe my heart, my mind, my faith? Or do I believe what someone else is saying about me, to me? Who's right? It's so easy to self-deceive, to convince yourself that you're one thing, when the opposite is true. But if you can't believe in yourself, who can you believe in?

Are you still selfish if you question whether or not you are? Or is it that, if you have to ask you probably are?

to quote a labmate: Life is not easy.


rockle said...

i have been accused of being selfish at work. sometimes i actually am, but most of the time i am more ... i can't find the right word ... maybe self-determined?

or, in other words: "god helps those who help themselves."

sometimes this pisses off people i work with. "she's so bossy." "she does things her own way and doesn't care how other people do them."

and technically, these things are correct: i am a team lead, so i am in fact in a position of authority, and i don't care how other people do their work, so long as it is done, and done correctly.

for a long time, i used to agonize over this. why doesn't anyone like me? i know i am loud, and i know i am assertive. i know i am good at what i do.

i also know that i am not deliberately mean, or bitchy, or unkind. i take my work seriously. i know i am good at what i do, and i will not be ashamed to know this. i take great pride and satisfaction in a job well done.

that is what matters. the work matters. when feedback is appropriate, i get it from my co-workers, but if it's my project or my responsibilities that need to be met, then i need to make sure that my stuff gets done the way it needs to.

looking out for yourself and your work is not the same thing as being selfish, is what i am saying. some people mistake -- or deliberately misrepresent -- care and confidence as selfishness. they're taking advantage of the fact that you actually ARE a good person by accusing you of not being one.

(wow, i really DO kind of sound nasty, but it really bothers me how people try to undermine others' work by getting PERSONAL about it.)

Anonymous said...

Being able to honestly judge yourself and your motivations are difficult. I think when you lay down at night and you are all by yourself, it is a good time for self-evaluation of your day. Look at what you have done and what you might have done differently. Good or bad.

You are the only one that can do this...