I bet, and I am not a betting person, if I did a random ask on what selfishness means to 100 people I would likely get a majority vote that it’s a ‘negative’ thing, a bad emotion, behaviour or trait that not many people admire in others, or that we try to deny within themselves. Even the pronunciation of the word selfishness feels icky to me!
Well today I want you to get to know your selfish side a little better and start to judge it a little more fairly, see how you can begin to use selfishness to honour your self-care. Let’s send it some kindness and understanding.
Dictionary.com defines ‘selfish’ in a negative way: ‘devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.’ It’s the end line that stumps me, and what I propose to challenge.
This ‘regardless of others’ – how far can we each push it to the detriment of others? If you’re a Mum, a sister, a son, a colleague, a boss – what does it mean to you to be selfish? Are you able to justify a bit of ‘you’ time regardless of others? Does the ‘regardless of others’ HAVE to be to their detriment or to your advantage? I don’t want you wandering into the victim zone – building up excuses to why you can take some time out for yourself, ‘there isn’t enough time in the day, I have to do everything, no one notices me, if only someone would offer it’ or to become a narcissist – and become completely self-indulgent. I want you to take the initiative to build selfishness into your routine, maybe you need to re-phrase it to justify it to yourself.
Let’s have a go…
As I was sitting on the ‘negative’ side of the fence for a long while, believing that selfishness is ‘wrong’ I needed to relook at the concept for myself. I’ve learned in the last few years that to be selfish is not a bad thing, it’s actually something that we all need to get better at, strengthening our energy leaks, thinking before committing to something, ‘is this really what is right for me at the moment?’ or am I saying yes in an effort to be liked, fit in, impress someone, or because I place care for others before myself. It’s an easy trap to fall into if you’re not aware of choices you’re making. It’s really made me consider how I spend my time and energy on the people that enrich me in return.
I’ve begun to notice that being selfish every once in a while actually energises me, makes me grateful and want to look after others without resentment.
Consider this, what are you getting out of being selfish, and what can you bring back from that experience to enrich the lives of those around you? Don’t wear yourself into the ground for months on end. To be selfish usually revolves around making time, the time to be setting some priorities and goals for yourself, to gain some independence, to expand your awareness or educate and learn, to be with friends, to relax or be playful, to retreat, to rest or gain some peace, to dream, to build your inner power or take a risk, to bring forth some creativity or take action. Concentrate on the benefit to you (and knock on effect others) rather than the feeling of guilt towards time out for yourself.
This resistance to selfish may feel uncomfortable and weird. Maybe it’s strange and you don’t know what to do with yourself if given the magic of extra time. But try it. You may notice others not happy with the choice, but you need to be strong and honour it, and like I always say, it’s the small steps, the 5 minutes a day that can expand in the future to a whole morning to yourself.
You may need to train yourself and others into new ways of being, and embrace being kind to your selfish.
Experiment a little…
Putting yourself at the top of the list is a challenging concept for most of us. If you make it a priority you’ll see shifts in life that you will be surprised and amazed by.
Set up a date with yourself, it can be a morning, afternoon, evening or a whole day.
Do something that you’ve always wanted to do, that relaxes or challenges you. Turn off the phone, get the kids taken care of, and escape.
What could you do to truly be kind to yourself? How can you redefine what selfish means to you?