I don’t like to think of myself as a selfish person. Who does? But I’d be lying if I said I never had selfish thoughts, because the truth is we all have them from time to time. In fact, I’ve had some rather stellar moments of selfishness in my life and more so in the last couple of years and most are without a doubt tied to occasional bouts of Me-Me Syndrome!
What is Me-Me Syndrome?
It’s a reference that I use to tell myself when I am in a selfish place. Me-Me Syndrome, in my case, usually means I have gotten myself into a mental pattern (or rut) where I think about me first, and others second. What maybe starts out as a Me-Me moment or thought can spiral into a pattern of those thoughts and end up at a place where even little situations start you thinking – Why me? Why did that happen to me? Or more seriously, how is that going to affect me?
Notice the pattern here – me, me, ME!
In most cases, my Me-Me thoughts begin with small things or situations that I’ve chosen to take the wrong way or to blow out of proportion. Sometimes they are things that didn’t have anything to do with me directly, but I put myself into that place anyway. If we don’t pay close enough attention, small Me-Me thoughts can quickly turn into Me-Me Syndrome – and that rut is never a good place to hang out!
It’s easy to get caught up in this syndrome, especially when things just aren’t going right or the hits keep coming! We are faced with a situation and believe we are going to get hurt or affected in some uncomfortable way. Maybe we feel the situation will result in a financial cost, or will require more time and effort than we think we have to give. Maybe we feel that because of this thing, we might lose something or someone, or our life in general will change in a way we are not happy about. Or, if we are in a particularly deep rut of Me-Me, it might not truly cost us anything at all, but we still find a way to make it seem like it will! In all cases, the Me-Me moments happen before we’ve even thought the situation through or gotten all the facts. And most are rooted in some level of fear!
It’s true – not every self-thought is a Me-Me thought.
There are things that happen in our lives that truly do affect us and require us to think long and hard about them and what they mean for us. Sometimes thinking through the consequences of a situation is actually a good thing and can prevent us from making bad or hasty decisions based on emotion rather than good solid facts. Sometimes as we think a situation through, while we may start in a self-centered place, we can come out on the other end seeing the situation in a truer light. And sometimes there may be an issue that is truly personal to us and we have to find a way to deal with it. There is nothing wrong with any of those thoughts!
The problem becomes when we find ourselves in the midst of a situation and we have immediately gone to Me-Me thoughts and can’t get out of them. That happened to me just recently. I had a mini tantrum over something that probably in the end had nothing to do with me personally, and yet in my mind I made it about me. Luckily I have good honest friends who very nicely helped me to screw my head back on the right way!! And boy am I thankful for them! I have other examples of this type of behavior on my part. None of them are very pretty and most often, while each situation itself may be different, most end the same – with an eye roll and a self-inflicted V-8 smack up side my head!
While a lot of my issues are small, over the last year I have found myself faced with other more long-term and complicated situations where I’m still working through my Me-Me feelings. It’s not easy and there is no quick fix for those situations, but I’m at least trying to think about them in a much less self-centered way. And more importantly, about how they also affect the people around me.
Here is the good news…
Me-Me Syndrome, while it can trip you up sometimes, does not have to be a full blown affliction. With some thought and discipline, we can overcome the instinct to over-personalize situations! As with most things, the first step is to recognize and accept that we have an issue. Once we recognize the signs of Me-Me, we can work to control those emotions and find a better way to deal with the things that happen in our day-to-day lives.
In thinking back on several of my self-confessed Me-Me tantrums, I found that once I could snap myself out of that thought pattern and truly take a look at the situation, I could see it for what it was and nothing more. I was embarrassed and frustrated with myself for having made such a big deal out of something so small. Even more so, when I turned my thoughts to the people around me, I realized that others were dealing with things much more difficult in their lives and that blowing my little things out of proportion was just selfish.
I also saw that in some cases, I was unconsciously diverting my emotions onto smaller issues instead of dealing with the bigger issues that were weighing me down. Misplaced emotions and frustrations – something I am still learning to deal with.
So what have I learned?
Sometimes I need to look at a situation for just what it is and react accordingly, or choose not to react at all. I need to understand that while it may seem like it at the time, most things that happen are not intentional, and I need to to stop acting like they are. I want to be open to seeing when a situation is affecting others, and to offer my support – rather than just thinking about myself and how that situation is affecting me. I need to find a better way to deal with my bigger issues, so that my emotions don’t turn the little things into something bigger!
I’m not perfect, and I’m going to still have my Me-Me moments from time to time, but I can make a better effort to prevent them when I can, and cut short the ones that I can’t.
This may be a Me-Me world, but I don’t have to live there if I don’t want to!
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;