Monday, 18 April 2011

The Joy of Selfishness

We are each the masters of our own little spheres. Or at least, we should be. Some people try and have more than just their own sphere; they want to be the centre of your sphere too. Sometimes it's just attention seeking, sometimes it's unreasonable demands and manipulation and sometimes it's abuse. Taking control of your sphere isn't just about taking responsibility for the negative effects of your actions, or taking credit for your positive actions, it's also about being in control of what you do when for whom. Exerting this control is often seen as selfish; saying 'no I don't want to run that event' or 'sorry, I can't give you a lift'. But who is calling you selfish? What are they contributing? Who benefits if you do what they want you to do? Who is really being Selfish here?

I'm a member of the Selfish Knitting and Crocheting Group on Ravelry, and taking control of crafting seems simple, doesn't it? It's just a hand knitted hat for heaven's sake... but there are a lot of people trying to take control of other people's spheres by voluntelling them, demanding handknit items or guilt tripping them. Learning to say NO! in the face of an unreasonable demand for an intricate hand-knit shawl at short notice can be the first step in learning to take control in other areas of life.

Fortunately for me I'm quite happy being a selfish crafter and don't have a family of gimme-pigs to worry about. Having said that, its interesting how feeling the good kind of selfish about my crafts has buffered my confidence in other areas too, and made me notice when other people are being taken advantage of. I wouldn't wish to argue that we shouldn't do things for other people, but that there's a give and take about things, and all too often one group of people give and another group takes. Calling someone 'selfish' is often a tool of the takers to guilt-trip the givers.

As a Heathen it's easy to get caught up in the idea that Hospitality = Good, and it is where it's not one sided.
A guest must depart again on his way,
nor stay in the same place ever;
if he bide too long on another's bench
the loved one soon becomes loathed. 
(Olive Bray trans. of Havamal) 
Both guest and host have obligations and it seems a lot of people these days feel themselves to be entitled to the benefits of being a guest without having to behave responsibly as a guest. Of course often at SKC we're not talking about hospitality as such, but still the bonds of obligation, gift-giving and family relations often come down to similar territory.

Or for a different take on it... a role-play game I used to play had a very important rule:
Rule 7: Don't take the Piss. 

So if you're always a giver, ask yourself whether you're really in control of your 'sphere', whether people aren't taking the piss and outstaying their welcome? Whether you need to gird your loins, put on your big girl panties and/or grow some balls and learn to say 'No!'?

I still need to work on this shit, but I'm getting there and it feels pretty good.


Robin said...

I believe the Japanese have a saying that goes, guests are like dead fish ~ after three days they begin to stink.

What is voluntelling?

Maytheweed said...

When someone 'volunteers' another for a task without giving them much choice in the matter.

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