Egoism and Altruism are the same
Updated: Jul 3
You cannot give what you don’t have
photo from Julien Demaret in Mukono Uganda I know, my statement is very likely to disturb you, you may think: “But, aren’t these things opposite?” or “Egoism is bad, and Altruism is good.” Well, I’m going to explain to you in this article why I say Egoism and Altruism are the same. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will open your perception of this and it will allow you to change the way you think about life. Let’s take a very trivial example. If you want to give me some money, can you do so if you don’t have money for yourself? No, you can’t. Not in a sustainable way. That’s why if you want to support financially someone and give to others in an altruistic way, you need to build your financial stability first and think about yourself first in an egoistic way.
I experienced this during a humanitarian trip to Uganda some years ago While I was on my Working Holiday Visa in Australia, I met a girl in Darwin and we both shared the same interest and curiosity about the African continent. Life happened in a way that shortly after we decided to go on a humanitarian trip to discover Uganda and the impact we could have there. She had already some contacts on-site in Mukono, the capital, so I followed her on the adventure. We truly wanted to have a positive impact on the locals.
Prior to going there, I found on the internet a company called Foldscope ( I’m not affiliated with them) that was producing cheap microscopes that you could learn to fold yourself. I bought one hundred pieces and went there to allow those kids to see what they had never seen before (as you can see in their hands holding a foldscope in the picture above).
Indeed, as a water treatment specialist, I thought it could be of interest to allow the children to see the germs in the water. It happened to be useful onsite when we discovered that their way to get water was to walk 4 kilometers down the road from the school to get to a very tiny stream and carry the water in yellow plastic jerrycans back to the school. Then, they were boiling it before drinking, but some of the children didn’t understand why they needed to do this because the water seemed clear and good to drink directly, resulting in a lot of them missing school for diarrhea issues. Allowing them to see the microbiotic life in the water made it easy to make them comply with the boiling process, and resulted in higher attendance at school.
Great stuff you might think. Well, no. I felt very frustrated seeing the way those children had to get water for themselves, with no water treatment except some boiling process.
Of course, I was happy that I could share my knowledge, but I thought to myself, is this what is really needed here? Knowledge? Or money to apply it?
Money would have had a way bigger impact. But at that time, I had very little money for myself, how would I have been able to give money to that community? This is when I deeply understood that in order for me to be able to be altruistic in a sustainable way and have the kind of impact that I wanted to have in this world, I needed to achieve financial freedom for myself first. That works for love too.
Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash I have had multiple long-term relationships in the past, and all of them failed. The girls with whom I had those relationships were very different, the conditions were very different too. Only I was the common factor in those relationships. This is when I figured out I might be doing something wrong.
I understood I needed to change something. I was probably missing something. While I was in Australia I decided to allow myself to stay alone for a while and I started reading books. A lot of books.
As time went by and I was uncovering more and more layers of myself, I finally found the reason why my relationships were not working. I was not loving myself. How could I be able to love someone else?
I was entering relationships to fill the void inside me. I was entering relationships to receive love, not to give it. I wanted to receive the love that I was not able to feel for myself. I wanted someone else to love me because I didn’t figure a way to love myself first. It might work in the beginning but as time goes by, my expectations were not met. They couldn’t be met. I was asking for someone to give me Self-love. Self-love as the word implies is something that is felt by yourself for yourself. Someone else couldn’t give me self-love.
So then I thought that the only way that a relationship can last is if I was entering it to give, not to receive. This way, I would not have expectations. The only way to do that, was to love me first.
This was the starting point of my journey toward self-love. This journey took me where I am today, in a position where I am overflowing with love and able to give it without any expectations. So now I enter a relationship to give love because I have too much for myself, I need to give it to someone. And if one day I wake up and feel like I am not overflowing anymore, I take some time alone again to build up this internal love. We might have been lied to.
Egoism may not be what we think.
Morality and some religions are trying to make us think that we should stay in poverty, we should think about others before ourselves, and dedicate our lives to others. This is not sustainable, and to my opinion, is only a way to make us miserable and make us fail. The truth might be somewhere else. We might need to consider ourselves first, fill ourselves with self-love, build our wealth and once we are overflowing, we can give in a sustainable way. The only way to altruism is egoism. Egoism does not mean doing whatever we can do to serve our own interests at the expense of others. Egoism is nurturing ourselves so that we are able to nurture others in the long term.
Altruism may not be what we think too.
Is Altruism really about helping others in a selfless manner with the only goal to improve their well-being? Isn’t it also about improving our well-being, and our feelings, seeing that what we actually do to help others is making us feel good? Also, don’t you think that someone who is desperately trying to give love and attention to others while he doesn’t keep enough for him is really altruist? At a certain point, this person will burn out and require the help of others to come back on his feet.
In other words, what I am saying is ultimately we want to serve others to feel good about ourselves. It’s an egoistic behavior. And also, if we don’t take care of ourselves first, someone else will have to take care of us. This means that even if we think that we shouldn’t be egoistic and think about ourselves first, it will result in us needing others to nurture us because we didn’t take our own responsibility in doing so. We end up being egoistic anyway. Now here is what you can take away with you. Altruism and Egoism are really the same things, Nurture yourself so that you can nurture others in a sustainable way. Do not listen to fake morality and miserable people trying to blame you. The only way to help others is to help yourself. Once you are fulfilled, you can have the impact you want in this world, whatever the size of the desired impact, be it helping your family, your community, your country, or the whole world.
Disclaimer: This article is about my experience and my perception of life. There is no absolute truth here and everyone is free to agree or disagree. If you felt hurt by my words, I sincerely apologize, my intention is to add some perspective to your lives, not to replace yours. Thank you for reading and if you like my content, consider following me !