Is there a selfless love?

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The question if there is selfless love seems similar to the question if there are selfless good actions. The answer to both questions is negative but I am sure that this is not the first time you get informed about it. First of all, I think that a lot of us out there have watched the “Friends” episode titled “Selfless good seed”. In this episode Phoebe tries her best in order to prove to her friends that unconditional good acts exist and could be done. What she finds out in the end? Well before we reach this point let’s watch (again) this hilarious episode!

But why there are not unconditional selfless actions? Why there is not selfless love? And in the end what means selfless? It’s an adjective frequently used but actually it’s so difficult to exist in our lives.

I google the word “selfless” and I find: Having, exhibiting or motivated by no concern for oneself but for others; unselfish”. So from this definition we understand that in order our actions to be selfless they should not be defined by concern for ourselves but only for concern for the others. Can this actually happen? Obviously not. Every human being experiences the world through themselves. Everything they do it’s because first of all they want it so that’s why they can do it and secondly because it’s beneficial for the others or it could offer something to them, but in the end this is also done for someone’s benefit!

Let’s take the case selfless love. Can we love selflessly? When all the psychotherapists keep saying that first we learn to love ourselves and then other people, how we are supposed to be selfless? The truth is that selflessness in human relationships is like a dreamy scenario, but eventually not applicable. It’s like a goal that it cannot be reached, like a terminal station that we don’t know the way to reach it. When I love someone, I don’t do it for him/her but for me. No matter how much we try to convince first ourselves and then others that our love is a precious, important present that should be appreciated by those who receive it, the truth is that we forget that love is something that is offered in order to return with much more tense to us. Why? Because when we really love we don’t see so much the result of our love to someone’s life. We only figure out the tense of love that pierces our existence. First and above all we enjoy the emotion of love that we produce! Even if we have a positive reaction from the person we are interested in, we simply enjoy the fact that our love is able to bring happiness into someone else’s life. Happiness begins and ends inside us since the presence of another person – no matter if we realize it or not – it is important but not primary. Finally, let’s not forget the most obvious thing: We love because we want love back. Just don’t believe even yourself who may say words like: “I don’t want anything back for the love I provide”. Oh really? Of course we want something back for the love we feel. It cannot be done differently! All the people are interested to see what is valuable to take from a relationship with another person. Someone’s loving response to our feelings can make us feel happy because he/she seems to loves us. His/her emotions are focused on us and this is of course a huge present for our “ego”, the small child inside us that never stops wanting love and confirmation. Additionally, they lie those who claim that they remain in a relationship and give their love without receiving anything. They may receive a weird, distorted kind of love (if they were raised up in an environment where love was not provided in the healthiest way it could) or they receive another type of confirmation through a relationship that seems to bereave them true love. They may feel victims in a relationship and this could be useful for them in some way. They may feel sorry for themselves and they expect from others to feel the same and that is one of the worst cases of selfishness. No matter which is the reason you should never believe that someone remains in a relationship without a good reason. All of us stay in relationships in order to receive love or something else that we need in a specific time period.

Let’s see now what happens with the good selfless actions. Are we really able for a selfless action that doesn’t contain any kind of personal benefit? A quick answer here that many people give is that philanthropy and volunteerism are cases that people act with real altruism. I don’t say that I disagree that charity and voluntary work are two of the most generous things to do, as except the practical part we could offer (e.g. money, food, work), we also give the most precious thing we have: our time. However, instead of our dynamic tense to offer are we sure that we don’t take anything back as a reward?

One day I met a lady that twice a week she was visiting an infants orphanage and offering voluntary work. She was feeding them, she was changing diapers and giving hugs to them since babies need a lot of touch and hugs during the first months of their lives. Unfortunately, infants in orphanages don’t receive the amount of tenderness they need. When I told her that what she does is amazing and important, she left me speechless by responding that important and amazing is what the infants offer to her. “I don’t do it for the babies, I do it for myself. Because I feel all these intense emotions every time that I am with them”.

You know what I am trying to say here, right? No act can be recognized as positive or magnificent if emotions of happiness, thrill euphoria, pride or … (add what you wish) are not present during it. We are good when we know that we will take something back. Even the feeling that we were somewhere somehow useful, that we offered something is a precious emotion that it cannot be easily felt by many people in their everyday lives. So, here we are talking about a great reward!

Instead of an epilogue

Selflessness doesn’t exist, but even if it is, it’s more or less impossible to approach it. This conclusion may seem negative but it’s not. Actually it is the exact opposite. Consciousness that none of us is selfless is really relieving since we can rid off delusions of divine, impossible love. One big step for personal happiness is made when someone gets rid off his/her guilt. If we get rid off our guilt that we cannot love in a superior way, we will set free our beloved ones from loving us without requirements and rewards. In this way our relationships are going to be much better because they will be more honest and more real. In other words human.

Try to love by realizing that every time you ask by someone a small or a big reward. Even if it is not so obvious, a possible reward always exist in a personal relationship. You don’t do anything wrong, you are just human beings. All the people are incomplete and that is probably what makes us so seducing. We always want something from others and we believe that if someone loves us he/she is going to give us what we asked. This is how all the human relationships work: they exist inside selfish love!

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2 thoughts on “Is there a selfless love?

  1. Interesting piece you’ve writen! Thanks for sharing 🙂 This raises questions for me. Because I do like to believe selfless acts/love exist, although only momentarily. I do not believe people can love selflessly all the time, I do believe people are capable of such moments and actions.
    For example, sometimes you have to let someone fall flat on their face instead of try and save them, because otherwise they will never learn. Although letting someone fall, knowing they won’t understand and might get mad at you, it is in their best interest. Even fighting away your own urges to ‘need’ to help someone, because if you give in to that, you are indeed following your selfish emotions. We often help people because >we< cannot bare to see others suffer. So watching someone fall is inevitable contrary to our human nature and in the short-term it feels bad for both people, but in the long run it is positive. Do you still think this is a selfish act? For me, this constitutes moments of selflessness although as people we are inherently flawed (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that) and we will act selfishly and make mistakes many times, but that's all right. It's how we learn and grow. I'm curious what are your takes on this? 😉

    • Hmmm this comments is really food for thought! 🙂
      I see your point here and I partly agree. Yes, we have to suppress a lot our feelings to prevent ourselves from helping people that we care for. However, why I think that there is also some pleasure into this choice? Am I the only one who thinks that the feeling of “I told you so” it’s so much pleasant?
      And no, I don’t mean that I will wait to see a beloved person crushing to prove that I was right here so now I can announce proudly and loudly: “See? I told you so!”. But if we want to be honest the sense that we were right, that we guessed correctly and we saw that coming is always a confirmation that we indeed understand this world’s rules (even just for one moment!).
      After that of course we should combine two situations: we should forget the fact that we were right (maybe once more) and help the person we care for to get well emotionally and practically.

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