Personal Development

I’m Selfish But Is That a Bad Thing?

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The selfish part in me wants to answer this question will an unwavering, “YES!” Pretty much all my life I have been taught to share, think of others and how being selfish is such a bad thing. After arriving in adulthood I find that this notion is a little more grey than black and white. Maybe the confusion comes from what we define “selfish” as. By definition selfish is an adjective meaning “devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.” What is so wrong with being concerned with one’s own interest? For goodness sake my name has VAIN in it so who am I to make criticisms based on selfishness.

Just hear me out, I honestly find myself teetering on both sides of “is selfish right or wrong” plane. On one hand, I want to be the first to give and make others happy but to often I have found myself never receiving. This invokes feelings of becoming bitter, being broken and resentful in the process. I have gone through periods in my life where I have loved boyfriends, family members and friends more than I loved myself. This resulted in low self confidence, codependency, lack of fulfillment (because for some no matter what you do it’s never enough) and sadness. And no, I didn’t arrive at those feelings simply by giving or just by being selfless. I arrived at those feelings because those people who I chose to give that deeply to had (whether consciously or unconsciously) decided to not give to me. What happens to a water bottle that is constantly pouring out but is never poured into? The answer is, it runs out of water. That is the easiest way to describe how (in those bad moments) I found myself feeling so low and broken after giving. I was constantly pouring into others and didn’t stop to check my levels or refill myself. That is where being selfless goes wrong.

I can’t really say I have completely fixed my selfless bug but I work terribly hard to balance it out. Every now and again I find myself doing something for someone who may not appreciate it or even notice and I get the tiniest bit of those bad feelings. The difference now however is that I respond differently. I remind myself why I did whatever it was that I did. In all honesty the reaction or response from someone you help shouldn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you wanted to help and you did. No praise of recognition required. Then I remember to do something to “help myself” and not just focus on what I can do for others. Depending on my current needs whether its career or personal I try to keep up with what I “need” and self care.

Times When You Should Be Selfish:

1. If You Currently Live in a State of Constant Selflessness

Girl, it is time. Well, actually it has been time but you keep missing the bus to the land of self care, happiness and truly learning yourself because you are so focused on others. There are one of two reasons why you are so selfless and lets address them both right here and now. One, you are running from something with yourself and its easier to focus on giving others what they need and want. Two, you are just a sweetheart that may have never learned how or why you should say no and focus on yourself. In either case lets move along and figure out what you want, what you need and what it will take (read effort) for to get to a place where you are truly living your best life as your best self.

I’m sorry but no matter how much you give, no one will ever be able to convince me that their life is great while ignoring their own needs. Nope, ain’t gon happen. Not only do you deserve sometime to focus on yourself, you owe this to yourself. So go do something you like alone, eat your favorite meal alone, hell take a walk, calm your mind and see the beauty around you alone. I guarantee during this time you spend with yourself you will learn more about yourself and hopefully become happier for it.

2.  If You Have Forgotten What You Need And Want

A lot of people find themselves in lives where they are caring for kids, romantic partners, family, friends and they are down right unhappy. What is there to be unhappy about when you are surrounded by love right? Wrong! These same people can’t figure out why they have this ill feeling gnawing at them. It is because you have forgotten about yourself and your subconscious is trying to get you to pay attention. It is so easy today to end up on the bottom of your own list behind husbands, moms, kids and friends but right their at the bottom with you are feelings of regret, resentment and loneliness. We all need our time to shine and in this case its time for you to make some parts of your day, week or month strictly about you. That is not to say shun all your love ones but you should be reminding them of what you need and reminding yourself to do for you, too!

3. When You NEED Help, Sleep, Alone Time or Are Sick

Each of those should be self explanatory but just in case you like to hear me talk (read see my words). If you need help how can you help someone else, focus on getting the help you need first and foremost. If you need sleep girl go to sleep. Lack of sleep puts your mind in the same state as intoxication. I’m sorry but neither I or your good good girlfriend need your drunk a$$ help right now, get some shut eye.  Everyone needs to spend time alone, case closed. If you are sick girl see the same advice for if you need help. Get better first before you extend yourself to assist another.

4. If You Can Honestly Say You’re Not a Sh*tty Person to Begin With

I’m sorry (well not really) if I am not supposed to say this but sh*tty human beings never have a right or a time to be selfish. No, you don’t get to make the world, a moment, or second about you when you are reckless with others lives, careless with others hearts and dismissive of the fragility of humanity. Nope, you can’t. Don’t debate me on this. If you are not a terrible person then you deserve sometime to focus on you!

Times When You Should Not Be Selfish:

1. If You Have Yet To Learn How To Be Selfless

If your whole life has been solely about you girl it is time to get off the selfish train and try to help out those around you. The feelings that you will get from doing good for others I bet change the way you see satisfaction for yourself.

2. If Someone You Love Needs to Be A Priority Right Now And That Won’t Harm You

Just like we all need our time, sometimes its not our time. Did you catch that? Basically we all have our time in and out of the spotlight and you must be willing to assist your loved ones in shining one because it’s the right thing to do and two because you will need assistance when your turn comes back around.

3. If You Have a Hard Time Empathizing With Others

Lack of empathy in my experience comes from not being able to get outside of oneself and think as others do. You might be less critical or judgmental if you practice seeing the world from more than just your point of view.

4. If You Do Not Show Up For Others But Expect Them To Show Up For You

Back to this give and take thing. You can’t require of others what you fail to fulfill. That is just ass backwards don’t you think? Another note to this is that we teach people how to treat us so if we show selflessness and caring for others we have then taught those people how to handle us in return. Win-Win.

We are now almost at the end of the article but you still don’t have a finite answer. Well, technically you do! The answer is yes if you are selfish during times when you really need to be selfless and no if you are selfless when you should really be focusing more on yourself. I’m sorry that I can’t drill down any better than that but just as in life you will have to use your best judgement. I am open to you asking me more specific questions on the topic given your particular situations. To send me questions snap me @EricaVain! We wouldn’t want everyone all in your business in the comments section or on twitter, right?

The world works on give and take and if everyone decided to just take then what would be left because nothing was ever given. Try to find balance in what you do for yourself and what you do for others because ultimately it is NOT all about us. The biggest marks you can leave on this world will be what you do for the world not what you took from it.

Be Kind to Yourself and Post a Comment Below Detailing Your Thoughts! I look forward to hearing from you.

Oh and I read these articles on the topic of Selfishness. You should check them out too:

THOUGHT CATALOG:  13 Times It’s Okay To Be Selfish

FAST COMPANY: 4 Reasons Why Being Selfish is Good For You

PSYCH CENTRAL: How to Be Selfish

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: It Takes Work To Be Selfish


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