Is it self-absorbed and self-centered to be seeking inner peace? Just consider how many interactions you have with others during your typical week. It doesn’t actually matter how many people it may be, many or few – each time you have any kind of interaction, whether on a call, or by messaging, or in person, imagine how it would be if you were feeling open, curious, caring, loving, peaceful and interested in how the others were doing, hoping that their projects flourish, that they be safe and well, experiencing peace, health and happiness.
Imagine that each time you interact it’s clear to you that you yourself are a worthy creature, and that you cherish your life, your existence, and feel gratitude and love for yourself, for the fact that you’re able to exist, able to be aware, and be a contributor to this life we all share.
Because of these positive dispositions you are not just able to listen to your friend, but care for them, and wish them well.
Now imagine an interaction where you’re anxious, and perhaps don’t even realize you’re anxious. Because of the anxiety, you’re in a rush, and it’s making you want to get through the interaction so you can get on to the next thing. Or it might mean you only want to get something from this person that you hope will fix some problem, and assuage your anxiety so it will go away.
First of all, there’s a common back and forth with moods like anxiety, which tends to get us caught in a loop, whereby we oscillate between problem-solving, so the mood will go away, only to have another problem arise once the first is sorted out, which again brings up anxiety. So we get caught in a chain of anxiety alternating with problem-solving.
But secondly, what kind of interactions will we have? Likely not caring, not curious, not spreading the good feelings of peace and happiness and wishing others well.
But the way we interact affects others. If we’re open, awake and aware, and appreciative of life, and feeling good about ourselves, it’s way likelier that we’ll interact positively and caringly with others. If we’re closed down in a kind of inner lockdown of unease, we may not even know if we’re acting brusquely with others, or speaking harshly. We could be hurting them without even knowing it.
From this vantage there’s an argument that it may actually be more self-absorbed, and perhaps even selfish, not to take care of our own inner peace and well-being.
For those in lives of service, it’s quite easy to overlook self-care, and to get into a kind of self-sacrificial mode. But over time, this will lead inevitably to burnout. It really can’t do otherwise.
Self-care can be regarded as an essential element in a life of service — not self-absorbed at all. So, for the well-being of this world, let’s take care of ourselves.