During a business phone call, I began to realize that I was totally focused on a completion date based solely on my own needs without any regard for how that would impact the individual on the other end of the line. I eventually brought up the person’s schedule but knew inside myself that I should have raised the concern earlier. I could tell the individual appreciated my consideration, and felt this helped build a positive relationship.
However small our interactions may be, we all have opportunities every day to be less focused on ourselves and broaden our purview to include the world around us. That’s not to say our interests or needs aren’t important. But in the words of English poet John Donne, “No man is an island.” We must take into account how our actions affect others.
It may seem easy to be self-centered – to think and act as if we are isolated from others. But what we say and do has an inevitable effect beyond ourselves. Whether we are interacting as part of a family, community, organization, company, state, or nation – that’s important to think about if we wish to continue relating rightly to our fellow men and women.
The way I am seeing to relate to others better is to actually pray to be more selfless. I have learned from the teachings of Christian Science that prayer involves seeking the truth of who we are spiritually, and that this brings healing and transformation to our lives as well as to the lives of others.
In prayer, we can claim the truth that God is our true Parent (see Malachi 2:10). Acknowledging that God is Spirit and is good and that we are God’s spiritual offspring means we know we can express only God’s goodness (see John 4:24 and Psalms 106:1 respectively). Such goodness is expressed in love, selflessness, and other spiritual qualities. As we read in the Bible, “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (I John 4:16).
When the tendency to be self-centered tries to keep us from expressing respect and selflessness, we can prayerfully acknowledge that it has no power over us, because in reality, God – who is omnipotent Love – is expressed in all of its offspring. “It is ignorance and false belief, based on a material sense of things, which hide spiritual beauty and goodness.... [D]ivine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object...,” states Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this publication (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 304).
As an example to us all, Christ Jesus expressed man’s true loving and selfless nature supremely. Based on the understanding of his identity as God’s Son, and his spiritual understanding and faithfulness to God, divine Love, Jesus’ lifework showed the healing power that came from such pure expression of Love. He knew that as God’s spiritual offspring we are all members of the same universal family (see Matthew 6:9). He held up the example of the good Samaritan – who showed great selflessness – and he espoused the golden rule: “as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). His demonstration of these teachings illustrated the fruits of Love in healing – showing how we can each bless one another by being more loving and selfless.
Ultimately, we can expect self-centeredness to dissolve and to be healed through an understanding that we are all members of God’s family.
Truly, no one is an island.