A Meaning of Being Good Man

A friend recently asked how I would describe myself in three words. I said: "Curious. Responsible. Busy". But then I thought: is it really the case?

Hang Cen Ling and Tenement House - the Ming sunset by Kwong Man Chun


Some time ago I had a call with my coach-mentor Tony. And we had this discussion about identity, what defines me. And one word that came up during the conversation was 'sacrifice'.  

To step back, and give you a context, we were talking about why is that there are things I want to do, to accomplish, however due to various reasons and excuses, I simply don't. From Tony's perspective, there are two aspect to it: inner and outer. Inner (internal) aspect to our all wants and desires is a "source code" - combination of values, principles, beliefs, ethics - the software through which I run my life. On the outer aspect, externally, there is an environment where I "operate" - other people, events, situations that I can't control directly (but make an attempt to influence, whenever possible). 

Inner aspect consists of different 'Sergiis', like 'curious-me', 'responsible-me', 'aspiring-to-be-better-me', 'busy-me', 'healthy-me', 'sporty-me', 'social-me', etc and 'sacrificing-me'. I notice that I value and honour promises that I give to others more than promises that I give to myself. And I wondered why this is the case. For instance, I'd aspire to wake up at 4 am in the morning, but when alarm rings, I just turn it off and continue to enjoy my sleep. But when I know there is a friend waiting for me to go for a sunrise hike, I will get up no matter what or how much I slept (even before the alarm rings). So what happens is that when the alarm rings, there is internal request coming to the "source-code" with a question what to do (turn it off or get up) and it would receive a different response depending if there is an external factor attached. My another question to Tony was: "How do I change that?'

Huang Cen Ling and Tenement House by Kwong Man Chun

To cut a bit a story, we came to part my identity which I'd call "Sacrificing Sergii". The "source-code" runs on the premise of what it means to be a "good man". And my idea of a "good man" means to be responsible and do what I promised. Being an active person by nature, I'd sign up for lots of activities, volunteer to do many stuff, so the more responsibilities I get, the more value I can deliver, and more good I can be, as I have more opportunities to prove that. Taking on more responsibilities also brings more experience and personal growth, - which is another "check" in my 'software'. The catch is when I want time for myself or would like to try a different thing, like learning the language or particular subject - it comes to me with a lesser priority. I'd attempt to do it, but chances are high that I'd eventually drop out or/and do it with much less dedication. Here 'sacrificing-me' comes to play - I feel good again when I sacrifice my time to do things for other people. How convenient. 

Inception, scene from a movie by Warner Bros. 

At the same time, there is a deeper level of what does that "being good" is actually for. Since early childhood I learned that being good comes with a reward - acceptance, love, care, recognition, and... survival. My father was perceived as 'good man', doing a lot for others, and I wanted to be like him. I learned to define my own value through how much value I bring to others. Even the life mission that I came up during pilgrimage in Spain in 2017: "Bring value to the people and make the world a better place to live" - has defined point as delivery of a value externally. In JCI, NGO which I am a member since 17-18, one of the core values is "Service for humanity is the best work of life". And it resonates with me strongly. 

But how about inner-self - where does the internal validation come from? How about other needs and aspirations, which I sense for inner self, without obvious value for others? Service for humanity can be the best work of life, but it's not the only work and life should not be only about work for others. I spoke about it with my flatmate Eddie and he says: "I've never asked myself this question. I think my value comes from the simple fact that I am alive. Being alive is my value". 

Breaking this pattern is tricky and requires lots of self-awareness. Here is where an old-good meditation comes handy, but I can't say with all honesty that I mastered it to a satisfying level as of time of writing (as again, there is no "friend" waiting for me to meditate together). 

Comments