I often hear people say they are living life for others. It’s so common that people say it without even giving it a second thought. It’s also something people say in plain, clear language:
- It’s the kids I live for.
- It’s work that gives my whole life meaning.
- My spouse/partner makes my life worthwhile.
- My parents need me.
It’s so common in American society — and actually this is true in most parts of the world – to live for anyone but yourself.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I live life for me.”
If you have, what was your first thought? I can think of many first thoughts in response to this little phrase, including:
- Gee, that’s selfish.
- How does he do that?
- What’s wrong with him?
- How shallow – no wonder he is alone.
Somewhere along the way living life for ourselves in our unique way became a problem for most people. Perhaps it was our parents who taught us and modeled for us being responsible and adjusting ourselves to please others? Perhaps it is easier to give one’s life over to some outside force, such as work, to not have to make decisions about one’s life? Perhaps we have experience with handing our power over to our partners and living for them rather than ourselves?
There are any number of reasons we live for everyone else and thing rather than ourselves. To put ourselves first is risky as we may be seen as selfish and unable to handle the responsibility called life.
So, how do we live for ourselves while also not being seen as “bad” or a “lone wolf?” Well, it’s all about you. We can never control how another will think of us, but we can control how we think of ourselves. Living life for you doesn’t mean you are selfish, but rather that you are embracing the highest form of you to contribute to the world, your community, and relationships. By being true to yourself, you aid the world in moving one step closer to authenticity. You also serve as a role model for others who are striving to do the same, i.e. to live an authentic life.
It is all in how we frame it for ourselves. Next time we are asked what or who we are living for, pause for a moment before you reply.
Who are you living for today?