Some flavors of doing it for myself…
If I investigate, I find that whatever I am doing, I am already doing it for myself.
If I don’t see it, and tell myself I am not doing it for myself, there can easily be various forms of unease and struggle, such as resentment, anger, jitteriness, hopelessness or fatigue.
I do something, tell myself I don’t want to do it (which is partly true), so get in conflict with myself and the word.
That is one flavor of doing it for myself. I already do it for myself, but don’t see it.
When I investigate, I find – as mentioned above – that I am already doing it for myself.
A simple way of noticing this is to first write down a have to statement, and then change it to a want statement. I have to pay taxes to avoid trouble > I want to pay taxes to avoid trouble. I find for myself that the latter is more honest and more true. (This one comes from Marshall Rosenberg.)
Another is to trace my motivation for what I am doing back to its seed. What do I hope to get from paying taxes? I get to avoid trouble, such as fines and prison. What do I hope to get out of avoiding trouble? I get to avoid suffering. What do I hope to get out of avoiding suffering? I hope to experience happiness. (Inquiry suggested by Adyashanti.)
Seeing this more clearly, I am not in struggle or conflict with myself anymore. I may choose to change my behavior, or not, but now from being more aligned with myself.
Finally, do it for myself can be a pointer.
I am doing something, it feels a little uncomfortable, and I notice it is because I try to live up to a certain image or impress someone. Doing it for myself is then a pointer to shift into consciously doing it for myself, not for others. And when this happens, there is a sense of comfort, wholeness, being home, and honesty.
I went swimming yesterday, and noticed that I felt a little rushed as I did my laps, there was a hint of discomfort there. I then saw a hint of a motivation of trying to impress others (as if anyone were interested!), remembered do it for myself, and immediately shifted into a deeper relaxation and sense of comfort. From the outside, there may not have been much of a shift, but my experience of it was quite different – and from there, my movements were more relaxed and effortless.
Again, what I am doing may or may not change, but my relationship to it changes.