Selfish?!

Putting Yourself First
Meeting Your Own Needs

In life, we are encouraged to think of others first. It is seen as a virtue to selflessly address the needs of parents, children, friends, and loved ones, before or sometimes at the cost of our own needs. But this virtue, like any, is best and most meaningful in moderation. Overly caring for others can easily be an unconscious cry for love or a crutch. Devoting all of your time to others can stand in the way of you caring for yourself. Taking care of yourself can feel selfish while taking care of others can seem easier than dealing with your own issues. But addressing your own needs first in some cases is beneficial and vital not only to your own health and well-being, but to your ability to care for others when needed.

We often find ourselves faced with too many responsibilities and those most readily given up are often those most important to us. Ask yourself why. Do you feel the need to prove yourself by being selfless or hope your sacrifice will be acknowledged? Do you feel selfish for wanting things for yourself? Or is it simply more stressful to contemplate your own needs, because they are the ones requiring the most personal effort on your part? Selfless dedication can be frustrating when we don't find the appreciation or love we desire, which ironically leads to putting more effort into others. But when you care for yourself, you affirm your own worth and boundaries. Don't be afraid to put yourself first now and then. Listen to your inner voice and be fair to yourself as well as to others. Have the courage to face your needs and issues head on without putting them off by helping someone else with theirs.

Avoiding caring for oneself is often indicative of great internal struggle. It can be helpful to recognize that you are as deserving of care as any other human and that you, too, function best when your needs are met. Try, when possible, to do something special, take a break, ask for help, and to give your own needs the attention they deserve.

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One of the reasons real life is difficult is that we don't ask for assistance -- from family, friends, co-workers, strangers.  We feel uncomfortable, as if asking for help is confirmation that we're completely inept or spongers.
                    -Sarah Ban Breathnach

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Become Incredibly Selfish is the first principle of the 28 Principles of Attraction developed in 1997 by the late Thomas Leonard, founder of Coach U, Coachville, and Attraction University, along with 200 of his coaching colleagues.

The Attraction Principles were designed to be learned and applied in order to eliminate struggle, while naturally attracting with grace and ease, the circumstances and things you want to have most in your life.

Being selfish in this case, means knowing exactly what you need for yourself to get your needs met efficiently, so you are not ‘needy’. To be needy means you are always seeking ways to get your unmet needs met. On the contrary, when your own needs are met, you can afford to be generous.

To understand this concept of selfishness, think of being on an airplane that has depressurized and the oxygen masks drop. You instantly remember the preflight instruction that you must put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting your seatmate or even your child. If you do not first quickly get the oxygen you need, you certainly will not be able to help anyone else, and your own life is at risk.

When we all do a little, it means a lot. But if you are always doing a lot for others and leaving yourself very little, chances are you are not even getting your basic needs met. Doing constantly for others at the expense of yourself in the hope of getting what you need usually backfires, and you then end up resenting everything you have done.

If you are so busy looking after everyone else’s needs you may not have a complete sense of who you really are. You must become selfish to establish who you really are, and what it is you need to be who you really are.

Being incredibly selfish does not mean abandoning your responsibilities and becoming overly childish in behavior.

Nor does it mean always exclusively focusing only on yourself, but that you can do so when you desire to, or need to.

This is about a healthy selfishness that brings out the best in you.

To become incredibly selfish practice saying ‘no’ to any request that takes you away from meeting your own needs and/or doesn’t suit your best interest.

Know what you want and ask for it. People that are secure in themselves are attractive. Let others know where they stand with you, what you expect and what you want. You will empower yourself and others by doing so.

Become selfish for the sake of it, to allow yourself, your gifts and your talents to develop.

Think of selfishness as a good thing to lead you on your path home to you. Then you can open your door to share the best of who you are, and that’s attractive.

-by Katherine G. MacRae, Life Coach

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Positively Selfish

When most of us think of the word selfish, it tends to conjure up negative connotations. We often associate "being selfish" with negative and self-indulgent behavior. In fact Webster's dictionary defines selfish as: "caring unduly or supremely for oneself; regarding one's own comfort, advantage, etc., in disregard, or at the expense of, that of others."

But my definition is something else entirely. I believe that by looking at selfishness from a different perspective you will open new doors to a life of success and balance. The more successful you are in your personal life the more successful you will be in other areas of your life. In other words, to achieve big results you need a strong personal life... and that starts with a high quality you. By becoming positively selfish, you will ensure you are at your best. Being positively selfish means giving yourself permission to put you first. It means putting your self-care above anything else... saying no, choosing to spend your time and energy on things that bring you joy, and making decisions based on what you want instead of what others want.

Practicing positive selfishness is all about letting go of your guilt for taking some time for you. It means truly believing that by serving your self-interests you will, ultimately, better serve the interests of your family, your colleagues and your community. A healthy, happy you means you can be physically and spiritually present at all times, without resentment.

This is a challenging concept for most. But you can be positively selfish without being egocentric or insensitive. In fact, when you become positively selfish the opposite occurs. By taking the time to make you a priority in your life, there will be more of you to share with others.

Make Your Move

This month I'd like to request that you take a good look at your definition of selfishness and come up with your plan to become positively selfish. Ask yourself these questions. What does becoming positively selfish look like for you? How do you give yourself permission to put yourself first? How can you carve out some time specifically for you? What is it that you love to do? What brings you joy? What do you want to say "no" to that you are currently saying "yes" to out of habit or obligation? Are you making decisions based on what you want or what others want of/for you? What does taking better care of you mean? What areas of your life do you feel you need support in? When was the last time you did something just for you and just for fun?

Positively Selfish
Suggested "To-Do" List

How to Know You
are Making Progress

Take 30 minutes just to think.  

You are able to put yourself first.

Write a list of the things that you love to do.  

You may find that you need less from others

Go and do at least one of them.  

You feel less "torn" by your roles.

Give yourself something you have been longing for... you deserve it.  

You find you are a lot more generous (you have more to give).

Take yourself on a date. Go out for lunch. See a movie.

You feel happier and more content.

Take a walk with a friend or by yourself.  

You have more energy.

Go to bed early one night

You are more focused.

Rest, relax and rejuvenate

You know what you want and why you want it.

Now, just get started. Take some time for you this month. Time to remember what it is you love to do. Time to think. Time to engage in an old hobby or experience something new. Begin with small steps, if that is easier... but please do take some action. It might feel strange at first to redirect some of your energy inward, but stay with it. This short-term discomfort is well worth the long-term benefits of becoming positively selfish.

-by Lisa Martin, Life Coach

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The Inner Virtue of Selfishness

Modern culture prizes selflessness and abhors selfishness, in effect setting the two against each other. 

"The alternatives are either to love others, which is a virtue, or to love oneself, which is a sin," wrote social scientist and philosopher Erich Fromm, in his essay titled "Selfishness and Self-Love."

While no one would argue with considering others, it could be worthwhile to re-examine our beliefs around being selfish. Do we really aspire to be without concern for ourselves? Or is it important to value and love ourselves, to think for ourselves, to have a life of our own and to be able to love others without losing ourselves? How do we differentiate between valuing ourselves and egotistically indulging ourselves?

The answers lie in self-knowledge. When we undertake an inner journey and come to truly understand ourselves--the sacred and profane dimensions of our lives--we develop the capacity to deal honestly, thoughtfully and lovingly with ourselves, as well as other people.

"The process of attaining self-knowledge both softens and strengthens us and serves to help us love and appreciate life and other people," says Bud Harris, author of the book Sacred Selfishness: A Guide to Living a Life of Substance.

Understanding ourselves better means discovering the negative effects of our histories, working to change them, building on our strengths and potentials, and relating to people in a more straightforward, authentic manner. It also means learning to love ourselves, to take in the fullest meaning of the biblical maxim "Love your neighbor as yourself."

"Self-love is the firm foundation that determines how strongly we can give love and receive love," Harris says.

Inner work, or the quest for self-knowledge, is greatly aided by self-discovery. Inner work is not a quick fix but a lifelong deepening of the connection to your truest self that can enrich life beyond words. 

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