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Self-belief can be selfless

Robin Trimingham asks, how can we build a world that works for all (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

As you move towards a dream, the dream moves towards you.” Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Today I have an interesting question for you – can self-belief ever be “selfless”?

To my mind this is actually a very tricky question because self-belief is so often confused with (or worse conflated by) egoism.

So, what do I mean by this?

To answer this question, we first must establish the fundamental difference between self-belief and egoism.

Self-belief is typically defined as “trust in your own abilities”, and egoism is usually defined as an excessive concern for oneself.

But does that therefore mean that believing in your own ability to accomplish a task is in itself an act of egoism?

Not necessarily.

When you take it upon yourself to fulfil a task or complete a mission for the benefit of the greater good without focusing on how you will benefit personally from accomplishing your goal you elevate yourself to a higher or “altruistic” plane.

Operating at this level does not just require self-belief – it requires an unwavering belief in, and acceptance of, a level of existence that is beyond your individual understanding of how it operates, let alone who controls it.

In other words, you must willingly board the boat with a destination in mind, and an unwavering confidence that you will arrive exactly where you need to be and precisely when you need to be there – but equally you must surrender the idea that you can control the force of the current that transports you.

Sometimes things go exactly as you might expect, and you arrive exactly where you expected to be.

However, sometimes nothing could be further from the truth.

But even in these instances if you have continuously allowed yourself to “go with the flow” without trying to influence the outcome for your own benefit, you usually discover that the place you have arrived at (and the circumstances that you find there) are so much better than anything you could ever have conceived of on your own.

But if it’s really this easy then why is it so hard for most people to do this?

The problem is, even when we really do want to be altruistic, we tend to think that we know what would be best for society and we inadvertently start trying to shape (or control) the outcome of our actions. And, in doing so we make the mistake of trying to achieve the objective that “we want” and egoism clouds our vision.

So, perhaps the real question that you need to ask yourself is simply ‘what can I do to help build a world that works for all?’ And the only thing that you need to believe is that you will find a way to complete the tasks that then come your way as you journey towards this altruistic destination.

And then if we can persuade everyone else to do the same, what a wonderful world we would all live in.

Some might call this “wishful thinking”.

And if so, my response would be – dream on.

Robin Trimingham is the managing director of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a business consultant, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://bit.ly/3nSMlvc or robin@olderhood.com

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Published April 05, 2022 at 7:31 am (Updated April 05, 2022 at 8:19 am)

Self-belief can be selfless

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