Continuing in the series “Handling Conflict Respectfully” we will start with selfishness. If you have read my blog recently you find that I talk a lot about releasing yourself from expectations. One great reason to do that is because holding onto expectations is a relationship killer. It kills relationships from a multi-directional attack. From unmet expectations, to hurt, to unforgiveness born out of unmet expectations these attacks come frequently and often times without warning. Compile more than these attack approaches and you have recipe for a conflict. Releasing yourself from expectations eliminates one area of conflict in your relationships. I would ask you again begin to let go of expectations of yourself and other people. Why talk about expectations in a post about selfishness you might ask. Well, the truth is that all expectations of other people are based in selfishness. “I expect” starts with “I” and therein lies the problem. By allowing other people to be who they are, seeing them as the amazing creatures God designed them to be and not imposing our expectations on them, we free ourselves and them for what is sure to be disappointment. So start by being diligent to release yourself from expectations. In the words of my Mr. Marvelous, “that is much harder to do than it sounds.” I respond to that by saying, you can do it. It will take a conscious effort at first but as you practice you will get better and it will become who you are.
Selfishness also often takes the form of manipulation: Because we want things our way and we want people to do what we want, we often find ourselves trying to manipulate others to get them to meet our needs and desires. The problem with changing this behavior is it is often subconscious and we aren’t even aware that we are using manipulation. I will say however, there are many people who overtly use manipulation to control other people. If you are one of these people then you should be able to identify when you use manipulation in your relationship with others. However, if this comes through you subconsciously then you will have to be diligent to look for and identify when you are trying to manipulate others. This would be a great time to enlist the help of your spouse or someone you are in a relationship with in helping you see the signs of manipulation you might be missing. People who aren’t confrontational by nature have a higher tendency for manipulation. So if this describes you, begin to look at all the areas in your life where manipulation could manifest. Pouting, yelling, intimidating, withdrawing, fault finding, and belittling are all forms of manipulation that are not only hurtful but can be relationship killers.
Accusations and proclamations are also forms of selfishness. When we use accusations, we are conveying to the other person their shortcomings are unacceptable. I find it interesting when you look at the Bible, that in Revelation 12:10 Satan is referred to as the “accuser of the brethren”. Accusations are not only hurtful and often times mean they are inconsistent with who God is and His power in our lives. I encourage you to ruthlessly eliminate accusations from your conversations and interactions with others. Proclamations are also born out of selfishness. “I always do this or that,” again this starts with that giant little word, “I”. When you begin to compare your best with someone else’s worst you are sure to create conflict. Our best deeds matched up to God’s goodness will pale in comparison every time. When we begin to examine our life in light of what the Bible says we should do and be, we find little validation for our right to make these truly lame proclamations.
There are many other ways that selfishness sneaks into our relationship, begin today to be very diligent to look for them. Begin to truly become who Christ has called you to be by becoming selfless. Selflessness is a great indicator that we are living lives that bring glory to God. Make a difference today, eradicate selfishness from your life, become a servant. When you are busy serving others, there is little room for selfishness. I want to leave you with this one scripture that talks about how to be great in the Kingdom of God.
It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant. Matthew 20:26