What does it mean to be selfless?
It means that you care about others as much or more as you care about yourself.
It means that you feel their pain, share their struggles and go out of your way to be a positive force in your life.
Sadly, being selfless also means you have to deal with a lot of bullshit that selfish people never even think of.
15 bitter truths every selfless person can relate to
1) Being unappreciated and overlooked
Perhaps one of the most bitter truths every selfless person can relate to is feeling that people don’t really appreciate you.
It hurts a lot because it can really seem true.
When you help out and care so much, but you get back very little other than a kind word now and then it can lead to feeling neglected.
“This feeling of not being appreciated enough can only come from putting care, resources, and emotions into something or someone.
When you are investing emotions and resources into certain people and they turn around and are not appreciative of your kind gesture, this feels like a stab to the heart.”
2) Being left behind in sex and romance
Being left behind in sex and romance is one of the worst bitter truths every selfless person can relate to.
This isn’t about feeling “entitled” to sexual satisfaction or love because you’re kind and helpful. It’s more like just being honest about the situation.
You spend your time on others — including helping out in their relationships — and you end up alone at the end of the day.
“It’s really important that we start to see that when we experience rejection it’s only when that rejection matches a part of our own identity that we hold that we make it about us.
And this is that really deliberate intentional work that’s hard. It’s hard to separate someone else’s behaviour from who we are.
Man, that is like the continued effort of, you have to constantly be the witness of your experience while you’re in your experience.”
3) Missing out on promotions at work
When you’re selfless and serve others, it carries over into your work life as well.
You may spend more time helping colleagues on projects and challenges they’re facing than you should.
In the worst-case scenario, you become the office doormat.
In the best-case scenario, you’re appreciated and well-liked, but you still don’t really get the recognition you deserve.
You find that you’re almost always playing second fiddle to those who are more assertive, selfish, and self-promotional.
The unfortunate thing is that your very genuine talents can often go unappreciated and underutilized because of your selflessness.
4) Not getting invited to parties and events
Being excluded just plain sucks. If you have to mention that you didn’t get an invite…what’s the point?
You still feel like shit.
When you’re a selfless person it can feel like wearing the best camouflage ever made.
You fade effortlessly into the background and get forgotten even when you don’t want to be.
Dr. Judith Sills notes here that the best thing you can do when you feel like an afterthought is realize that almost everyone goes through feeling excluded by their friends at times.
“Exclusion is a part of life in any group. Human beings are pack animals, and it is in the nature of the pack to create cohesiveness by establishing a common enemy.
That’s why countries pull together during wartime and why little girls spend so many hours at a sleepover ripping apart the classmate who didn’t get invited. In the politics of my friendship group, it was simply my turn.”
5) Having freeloaders leech off you
Freeloaders: we’ve all met them and the blessed among us have mostly managed to stay away from them.
When you’re selfless, however, they’re attracted to you like a moth to a flame.
They can sense someone with a good heart and they come running looking for freebies, rides, financial help, networking, and anything else they can get out of you.
If you’re selfless it can feel at first like…why not?
Sure you can introduce them to your aunt who works in interior design and say she can get them a great internship.
Yeah, no problem you can loan them $500 next month until things improve for them a little.
But after a while, you start to see that the freeloader will never be satisfied and that they barely even recognize your humanity.
6) Hearing everyone’s complaints and issues
When your friends use you as a sounding board for their issues it can be really taxing.
You care, and you want to help: but you also feel just plain overwhelmed.
The thing with people who complain a lot is that they’re a bit like chameleons.
There are those going through a really rough time who genuinely need somebody to listen and are at their wit’s end.
Then there are chronic complainers who are used to verbalizing every little thing that goes wrong and will never get enough of complaining even if you gave them 100 years of your time.
That’s why those who constantly offload on selfless people with their issues are just taking advantage of them at the end of the day.
Plus, the complainer isn’t doing themselves any favors and is just indulging in an endless toxic cycle.
“When somebody is constantly complaining, it’s easy to think that they just have a negative outlook on life in the same way that a pessimist might. The truth is, chronic complainers are a whole different breed.
They may not have a negative outlook on life at all, but they still want you to know that nothing is ever quite good enough.”
Ain’t that the truth.
7) Getting ignored and neglected by your partner
Romantic relationships can be very difficult for selfless folks.
No matter how much you put in, it can often feel like your other half sees you as an afterthought or somebody who’s only there to give love and affection.
Love and marriage are supposed to be a time of appreciation and mutual affection, so needless to say it can be devastating to feel overlooked and unloved.
You may also start to doubt yourself, wondering if you’re just needy or being oversensitive.
So: what should you do when your partner ignores you?
Your best bet is to take relationship writer Taylor Fuller’s advice and rekindle the flame of your early romance:
“When a partner starts ignoring you, it could mean that they no longer feel the connection that they once did when you first started dating…
It’s important to reintroduce those activities that made you feel really special. Some of the best conversations you can have with your partner take place in bed, before you go to sleep (hello, pillow talk).”
8) Never having enough time for yourself
Another of the top bitter truths every selfless person can relate to is never having enough time for yourself.
There just never seem to be enough hours in the day.
You move fast, you work hard, you help friends and you help out however you can and somehow when you look at your watch there’s no time left.
Even as a very hardworking person, you may feel frustrated.
One of the hardest things to accept is that time keeps running short just to get basic things done in your own life.
As for relaxation and leisure, those are basically out of the question…
So much for putting your feet up, watching a movie, or taking a bath. It’s time to sleep and get switched on for more of the old rodeo again the next day.
When you care a lot about other people sometimes you run out of time for yourself.
9) Playing second fiddle to showboats and narcissists
Selfless people don’t tend to be confrontational.
They’re usually very empathetic and can see where someone else is coming from.
In addition to freeloaders and chronic complainers, another species of swamp creature likes to crawl towards the giver.
This is the egotistical narcissistic.
Whether it’s your boss at work or your own partner, this person keeps popping up with their self-righteous crap day in and day out.
When facing a narcissist or an egotistical jerk, you are best off leaving your good manners at the door.
“Yes, in general, you’re going to want to keep it polite and classy. But if you’re at the end of your rope or the person crossed the line, be honest and to the point,” advises author Susan Fee.
10) Ending up emotionally exhausted at the end of each day
In addition to being physically tired out after a long day, the selfless person finds their emotions tired out.
Even if you’ve been involved in joyful and constructive projects and friendships, it all takes energy!
There often isn’t time left over for self-care and just taking a “breather.”
We all need that extra time and space, and one of the hallmarks of a selfless person is that they tend to undervalue and forget about their own need for time and space alone.
Emotional exhaustion is a serious issue, and over time it can even morph into depression, anxiety, and other upsetting and chronic conditions.
When you find yourself emotionally exhausted it can be tempting as a selfless person to turn the blame inwards, but you should definitely not do that.
It is not your fault, nor is it a “weakness” to feel all tapped out and a bit drained after the end of another long week.
Anybody would be!
11) Getting “too much information” almost all the time
The problem with oversharing is that many times those doing it don’t even realize they’re doing so. That makes telling them quite awkward and likely to lead to a confrontation.
As a selfless person, you never want to tell someone to just shut up.
And friends — or even strangers — always feel welcome to share the details of their lives with you.
When this gets into intimate sexual details, illnesses, psychiatric issues, or other things, however, the going may get a little odd.
Because the truth is it may make you uncomfortable, depressed, confused, or just plain bored.
You have to wonder why some people don’t realize how bizarre oversharing is.
“Some people may overshare due to narcissistic tendencies or because they feel inadequate and have something to prove.
Many don’t realize they are oversharing and struggle to read their audience.
Often oversharers aren’t aware they have revealed too much until after the act, or they might just not see it as a problem.”
12) Being low on money and savings more often than not
Helping and caring about other people matters more than money to many of us. But money still matters.
Without it, you could end up literally homeless.
Attachment to money is sad and obsessive, but caring in general about money and having enough of it is entirely logical and reasonable.
There is a lot of importance to your money mindset and thinking of money in a positive and natural way.
Finances don’t have to be a stressor or big problem in your life, but when you are trying hard to help others they definitely can be. Which is why being a selfless person can be so hard.
You find that you often end up with barely any savings or means to provide for yourself or your loved ones.
In other cases, you’re the selfless member of a family and other family members mooch off you and waste the money you earn.
13) Keeping secrets you’d rather not be keeping
None of us wants to be stuck keeping other people’s dirty secrets.
But one of the bitter truths every selfless person can relate to is being told privileged information that you’d rather not know in the first place…
And then being expected to keep it to yourself forever or else torch a friendship.
How do you spell fun, right?
The fact is, dirty secrets you keep are harming your physical and mental health.
“New research, however, suggests that the harm of secrets doesn’t really come from the hiding after all.
The real problem with keeping a secret is not that you have to hide it, but that you have to live with it, and think about it.”
14) Feeling isolated when you need a helping hand
Being a selfless person can feel a little like showing up and playing for the team only to have them all chow down on pizza while you run around collecting fly balls around the field.
You want to pitch in and help, but when you need a hand it’s just you out alone on that baseball field picking up everyone else’s scraps.
Where are the friends you helped to help you in your hour of need?
They’re eating pizza, or watching TV, or busy, and so on…
In most cases, it’s not even that your friends don’t appreciate you, it’s just that they’re very busy and focused on their lives.
That’s OK, but you still need somewhere to turn. Thankfully there are all sorts of new opportunities to meet friends and those who share your interests in our brave new world of cyberspace.
As Crystal Raypole writes, the best thing you can do in this scenario is head online.
“Virtual events may not feel quite the same, but they can still have benefits.
Plenty of groups have taken their meetings online during the pandemic, so it’s worth checking Meetup, Facebook, or libraries and other community centers for information about virtual fitness groups, book clubs, museum tours, and other gatherings and social opportunities.”
15) Understanding others, but not feeling the same in return
When you’re selfless it’s not just about what you do for others, it’s also about the empathy and compassion you bring.
You may truly understand the life situations and perspectives of those around you, including strangers.
That’s why it can feel so disheartening to notice that others may be too busy in their life to really understand anything about you.
Sometimes it’s something as simple as getting the type of music you’re into or sharing your love of sports.
Other times it may be more niche and you wish someone understood more about what brings you joy or your struggles in love.
But they just seem so absorbed by their own life.
It’s not easy being me…
These bitter truths every selfless person can relate to might not have been a pleasant reminder.
Don’t I know it. But they’re true.
And it’s good to keep them in mind because being selfless isn’t just a matter of being “nice” or “super helpful.”
Being selfless can actually lead to deep inner fulfillment.
“Being selfless helps us identify and connect with others and that in and of itself is rewarding. It helps squash our egos because we are not acting out of pride or for a desire to be noticed.”
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