Recently I have been constantly self-analysing and beating myself up with the thought and realisation that I am in fact selfish.
Merriam-Webster defines Selfish as “To be concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others”.
This sounds great as we all think, “well I think about the well-being of others all the time, I can’t be selfish?” But what if you only care about how others are affected, or how your actions towards others are perceived because it directly impacts you each time?
To be selfish or narcissistic is one of the worst outward “traits” that a human can have, but as I started to think through this concept, and discuss my concerns with my Psychologist, I began to realise that we are in fact all selfish and in this game of life for ourselves.
I started to wonder why this was, what causes us to WANT to survive, to be the best, and to selfishly desire to have children for our own benefit.
Survival of The Fittest
I began thinking deeply about Evolution, Genetics, and the, “Survival of the Fittest”, theory, when I was away in Brazil and it fascinates me to think of us as animals first, conscious beings second. I now view my own actions, the actions of others, group mentality, and the classic traits and emotions of humans as mere products of our animalistic instincts driven by a desire to win.
Pondering the ways in which humans are selfish led me to consider the fundamental differences between the sexes. I focused on the biological differences between males and females, and became convinced that biologically both sexes are selfish – but for different reasons. I realised that selfishness and competitiveness were two very similar traits, and almost always go hand in hand.
Nowadays there is a lot of talk about how Sex and Gender mean nothing and are not representative of a person’s characteristics, but I feel that this simply is not true.
Of course I absolutely love the fact that nowadays people start to question their gender and question everything that society has taught them about Gender Roles and their sexuality – and view it not as a monochromatic hetero / homo sexual classification – but as part of a spectrum.
I believe that nothing in life is a simple yes/no and our entire personalities lay dotted on various spectrum. I want, actually, I urge people to question absolutely everything that they experience.
Biological Differences Between Males and Females
However, we cannot ignore the biological and evolutionary differences between males and females, neither should we be trying to minimise the differences. We should embrace the differences between the two sexes, and learn how to better understand the differences in the functions of the brains and bodies.
Equality does not mean that we are equal psychologically and physiologically, it means that we are equally capable of pursuing the same goal when given the right opportunity.
Males and females have evolved with the same fundamental selfishness and competitiveness. What differs are the end motives and methods of achieving this. In the vast majority of communities and societies all over the world, males have evolved to be, “dominant”.*
We know that males are not more intelligent than women, we know that they are not more resilient, we know that they are not less prone to catching illnesses, we know they are not fitter, i.e we know that there is no physical reason that males should be dominant.
*There are examples of some tribes that still exist today with a Matriarchicical society, and throughout history, there have been various examples, however, these are few and far between.
In fact, even back in the days of hunter-gatherers, and when humans were more reliant on hunting and fending for survival, physical size would not have been an obvious advantage. The aforementioned traits of fitness, resistance to illness, ability to survive without food for longer periods of time (metabolism), as well as intelligence and the ability to recognise and avoid danger, are far more genetically beneficial traits.
This got me to thinking that yes males are physically bigger than women, but as far as I can see this has nothing to do with their comparative success – or the dominance of powerful positions in society.
“Learned” people, (since as far back as records go), tend not to do manual work – and so we can assume that physical size has nothing to do with success. Mathematicians, scientists, scholars, politicians, (the traditionally powerful positions), were almost always occupied by men and this has continued to the present day. None of these jobs have anything to do with physical size.
As we have ruled out physical size as the differentiating factor, (and the factor that is often quoted as the reason for inequality or to undermine women), we are left with the only other obvious difference which is that women bear children, and biologically and evolutionarily WANT to have children.
Females have evolved as intrinsically competitive and selfish because of their biological desire to be impregnated and have children. I believe this is an animal instinct that, (the majority), are born with. As females have, (historically), had less of a platform to defend themselves openly, have had less confrontational careers, and have spent less time dealing with external conflicts, (those outside of family conflicts and conflicts that arise from raising children), they have evolved to be more calculating and less confrontational.
This is why females are often accused of being more, “bitchy”, “backstabbing”, “cold”, and “emotionally manipulative” than men. Females have evolved to try and eliminate the competition around them in a more subtle way than males.
Females have evolved as fiercely competitive as their options have always been limited. There are fewer opportunities for “success” for females, whether this be the success of bearing a child, or now in more modern times, the success of a fulfilling life and career. They have a limited amount of time to bear children – and thus protect themselves and their genealogy, as well as limited career opportunities in most countries.
Males, on the other hand, are also intrinsically selfish and competitive but have evolved with different methods for achieving success.
Males have historically done most of the fighting in wars and occupied most of the conflict – resolving positions, such as politicians and military personnel, etc.
Because of this, males – on the whole – prefer to resolve conflicts face to face and use, “brute force”, either physical or verbal.
The male hormone testosterone causes males to seek partners and affects emotions such as anger and rage. Males are on the search for power so that they can have their choice of females and they must eliminate competition in order to achieve this.
Females are biologically and subliminally on the hunt for males with power and/or stability in order to protect themselves and be able to procreate and provide their children with the best chance for survival. As our societal concepts of power and gender roles begin to change, more people are now opting for, “non-traditional”, relationship, such as younger males within the relationship, more “powerful” women, and even polyamorous relationships, (which I will discuss in a separate article).
What I am trying to get at here is that intrinsically, before we even begin to analyse specific situations, we begin to realise that we have evolved to be selfish, in order to eliminate competition in the most efficient way possible.
The train of logic is this: the more selfish you are, the more you are willing to eliminate competition and this results in higher levels of success. Narcissistic tendencies can be seen when looking at almost any powerful figure, past or present. There are of course exceptions to this, as with any rule, but take a moment to think of the most successful people you know and their attitudes in life.
How have they achieved power if not inherited? I argue that even the world’s greatest philanthropists do so for self-gratification, and to give themselves a fulfilling and meaningful life. This point reminded me of the Friends episode discussing this topic:
In our modern societies these concepts of females just being child-bearers and males being the, “bread-winners”, (i.e those that provide for their families), is slowly but surely ebbing away. I think it is fantastic that people nowadays are more conscious of what they truly want, and are beginning to push the boundaries and limits imposed by society. However, whilst the mindset of the people is changing, the genetic information stored within, and the intrinsic human desires and needs have not changed.
Helping People Is Selfish
I began to feel exasperated because although I want to do good and I want to help people, I couldn’t release the guilt I felt about just doing things to satisfy my own desires. I now inadvertently have become somewhat of a life-coach to people, and I receive messages almost every day from people asking for advice. I love to help people, I love to offer advice and share my experiences with anyone that will listen, BUT, this within itself is selfish.
I want to help people because it makes me feel good inside. If it didn’t make me feel happy and wanted, would I want to help people so much? This caused me many weeks of torment as I battled mentally with this realisation. I felt like my whole life was a lie, and that I couldn’t be a good person because I was just gratifying myself in the form of helping others.
As I began to rationalise this I realised that ALTRUISM DOES NOT EXIST. I could not come up with a single example of true altruism. I realised that everybody that does nice things does so for some benefit to themselves: self-gratification, the advancement of a career, to demonstrate how “good” they are, to attract a partner, etc.
True Altruism Does Not Exist
True altruism does not, and cannot exist. The closest example I could come up with was a fathers love and desire to care for his child. The connection between a mother and a child is the strongest connection in the world but this is something that is physical as well as mental, and something incomparable. A mother’s love for her child cannot be called altruistic, because that child was and is part of her physically – thus it is just protection of what is hers.
A Fathers love for a child is something less natural, as males can impregnate multiple females within a short period of time, and can continue to do so their whole lives.
The father can never carry the child inside of him, never has any physical/hormonal changes to his body, never breastfeeds, etc. and so the love and desire to care for the child grows more organically .
However, my bubble was burst when I realised that intrinsically – and subliminally – a Father views a child as something which will care for him when he is older, or continue his genealogy.
I am not a father – or an expert on this matter – but thinking of it objectively and thinking of us as animals at a base level this makes perfect sense. The love of a child can be attributed to the survival, protection, and reproduction of the genes of the parents – thus it is selfish.
We Are All Selfish
I reached the conclusion that I am, and we are all selfish! I found solace when I reached this conclusion because I no longer felt guilty for wanting to help people. We may all be selfish and in this game of life for ourselves, but we can try to make life better for others whilst we follow our own path. Our selfishness can be used positively, and also minimised when needed.
I am sorry for this long article, and the tangents which it follows but it was something that was driving me crazy and I wanted to write about it and share my conclusions.
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To read another article about how Political Correctness and Social Media Warriors are crushing the ability to integrate as a society click the link below: