Meditations on Exploitative Self-Interest

It is natural for mankind to safeguard his self-interests. Even I am enough of a Hobbesian that I can accept that unflattering reality of human nature. We are always seeking to hedge our bets so that we may be in the fullest possible control of our lives. How else are we supposed to survive?

To a degree, protecting one’s interests is perfectly normal and even healthy. But self-interest can become toxic, however, when it reaches a point where one feels entitled to dictate the life of someone else, regardless of how the other feels.  That obsessive pursuit of self-interest causes one to control (or at least attempt to control) others in order to pursue one’s own agenda.

The Chessboard of Life

Over the years I feel that there have been a number of individuals that have sought to control me for the sake of safeguarding their own interests. The situations and locations have varied. Some tried to do this through social pressure, psychological manipulation, and even brute force.

Suddenly I found myself on a chessboard, being demanded to move in a game that I didn’t even know I was playing.  I was the rogue pawn that needed to be wrangled in, all because I was making decisions for my own life. Such violent reactions could only maybe be understandable if I was making decisions that directly impacted them, but I was not. I was simply being my own keeper. I could not understand their need to control me when my actions, from my perspective, did not influence anything in their lives.

Change is Scary

I became easily infuriated when I realized that certain individuals expected to act in a way that completely benefited their own life without any regard for mine. It was easy to become indignant and enraged, but I was able to cool that anger by realizing that change is a scary thing for a lot of people.

Not that this in any way excuses the gross violations of boundaries, but thinking about it this way made me realize that many of these people were acting out of fear. They were emotionally reliant on me being a certain way and any shift in the status quo was naturally going to be met with some resistance.  In some cases that resistance quelled to eventual acceptance while in others it triggered rejection and abandonment.

Don’t Be a Pawn for Anyone

Certainly it is unfortunate that some  people could not adjust when I no longer served their self-interests to the same degree as before, but I could not remain shackled to those that could not see the damage they were inflicting by behaving so selfishly. They were clinging to a past that never was going to be again, rather than see new opportunities in a different future.

If someone is only going to see me as a pawn in their own game, then they are not worth fighting to keep around. I am not a pawn on anyone’s chessboard. I am the queen of my own chessboard.

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