What is Selfish?
The definition of selfish is “lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure” Such a negative connotation, not many words hurt as much as being called selfish.
The most recent topic we’ve been discussing in my group practice has been self love, self compassion, taking care of our own needs, being our own best friend and being kind to ourselves. Often people will respond with reactions such as “It sounds so selfish”
How can looking after your own needs be selfish? Why is it that we have lost our connection with ourselves and become totally focused on fulfilling everyone else’s needs?
Selfishness is the very nature of our human existence, without our instinct to look after ourselves we would not have survived.
The Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying “if we wish to be truly selfish, then we should be wisely selfish rather than foolishly selfish”
When is being Selfish Not A Good Thing?
When we commonly talk about selfish people it’s usually in a way that is hurtful. In other words their behaviour has hurt us or others. But I’d argue that this is more to do with them being deeply unconscious of their place in the world or in their relationships.They have no regard for others.
This is very different from being selfish, it is much more to do with self awareness or more like lack of self awareness and how it impacts on others.
Selfish in this sense is:
- Ego Centered – Only looking to protect or satisfy one’s own ego
- Self Protection – People who have been hurt and close themselves off to protect being hurt again
- Skewed interpretation of Strength – yes usually people act in a selfish way because they think this makes them appear strong, when in fact it is exactly the opposite.
When is being Selfish A Good Thing?
So now we come to why being selfish is a necessity. Simply put because if you do not look after number one, you are neglecting the one reason you are living. Your life is precious, it’s priceless and you owe it to yourself to value it as such.
The difference is that being selfish does not mean you step over others, treat them badly or disrespect them for your own gain. Actually it’s the complete opposite; to really love yourself means you will go out of your way to do good for others because it makes you feel good. That is selfish compassion, it’s not the only reason you do something good but ultimately it is what makes us all be kind towards others.
Selfish in this sense is:
- Looking after yourself because you want to be happy, being happy has a positive impact on those you love.
- You love yourself because if you can’t love yourself how can you expect anyone else to?
- You put yourself first because when you are meeting your own needs, you do not need others to meet them for you. This liberates both you and your loved ones. You release those close to you from obligation, feeling they have to do something. But when they do, it’s because of their own desire to make you happy.
- We look after our own needs so we don’t become resentful. When we expect others to fulfill our needs and they fail to do that, we become resentful. Or if all we do is do things for others, sooner or later we will resent it.
It is ultimately your responsibility to be “consciously” selfish – To be a fulfilled and Happy Individual