Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2014/11/29/radical-self-reliance/
If I am not for myself, who is for me?
If I am only for myself, who am I?
And if not now, when?
This is a beautiful riddle by the first century Jewish Rabbi Hillel. The opening line points us towards a deep truth. I cannot rely upon others to meet my needs. When I make myself totally dependent on the good will (and often clairvoyance) of others, I am giving up my own power of self-reliance.
When you acknowledge that it is your responsibility to take care of your own needs you have power. You can make choices of who to spend time with and what activities to engage in. In fact, you are the only one responsible for taking care of your needs. You may choose to enlist the help of others, and they may agree. But just because a friend, family member, or partner agrees to help you out doesn’t make them responsible for your happiness and enjoyment of life. The reason why is within the previous sentence.
It is your happiness and your enjoyment of life which is at stake when your needs are being met or unmet. Blaming other people for your unhappiness and your lack of enjoyment in life is like thrusting your power into that person’s hands. You become utterly powerless to help yourself when you’re stuck in the mindset of “it’s his/her fault”.
But before we become lost on the path of being egocentric, confusing that path with the path of self-reliance, Hillel has this second question. ”If I am only for myself, who am I?” While it is true that your needs are important, and that you are the only one who is responsible for making sure they are taken care of, it is also true that you do not live in a vacuum.
In fact many of your needs can only be met by being a part of a community of people. Needs like belonging, community, companionship, and intimacy are all needs that really require being in relationship to other people. But a one-way relationship is a doomed relationship. The focus of the relationship can’t just be on one person, relationships needs to be mutual, a two-way street, in order to be sustainable.
So be self-reliant! Value your needs, and make the choices necessary to ensure your own happiness and enjoyment of life. No one will make those choices for you. And be compassionate with others! Take an interest in contributing to the needs of others, to helping them when they ask for help. You cannot make it all on your own.
And when is the best time to become self-reliant? When is the best time to start thinking about the concerns of others? ”If not now, when?”
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.