Should we become more POSITIVELY selfish?
“Sometimes, you have to do what’s best for you and your life. Not what’s best for everyone else.”
The word selfish, to me feels like a negative word. However, during the past few months, I’ve learned that being positively ‘selfish’ in situations can be very good for us. It’s about positive self-regard.
Psychology experts have referred to the fact that when someone calls you selfish, it surely doesn’t feel like a compliment, but they say, the trait can actually make you a better person.
“When you take care of yourself first, you show up as a healthy, grounded person in life,” says Bob Rosen.
There’s a certain stigma attached to selfish behaviour, but a new study suggests that putting your own needs before others needn’t be as bad as you first think…
In the traditional sense of the word, there is a difference between being centred on yourself and being “selfish”. While many of us constantly reflect about ourselves and our position in the world, we aren’t typically ruthlessly going around and taking things for ourselves so that others can’t enjoy them. The word “selfish” almost always has a negative connotation but I believe IT IS TIME to rebrand the word in order to highlight how healthy and productive positive selfishness can be.
So how can we be positivity selfish? How can we have better regard for ourselves?
The “good” side of selfishness, is that you take care of yourself enough to be in top form for doing whatever you want to spend energy on — exercising, taking care of your kids, excelling at your job, maintaining great relationships, drinking cocktails 😊. In fact, even staying alive requires a certain amount of “selfishness”. You must eat. You must sleep. These are examples of a necessary and healthy selfishness.
I am a people pleaser person. I will be the first person to admit that. I think I get this (what I think is) wonderful trait from my Mom. We LOVE to give to others, we LOVE to help other people out, but most of the time this is to the detriment of looking after ourselves. Mostly, I believe, because we enjoy giving and don’t often like receiving.
It has become more and more apparent to me over the past few months that I actually put people before myself a little too often. I’m sure there are many of you out there who are reading this feeling exactly the same. I’ve done it my whole life though, so it’s hard to ditch the guilt…
So why should we ditch the guilt and feel good about putting ourselves first?
There are many AMAZING things that can come from putting yourself first. Here are some that I believe could help us in the long run by sometimes being positively selfish.
The first thing we could improve is our mental health.So often poor mental health stems from neglecting our own needs and placing others’ needs ahead of our own. This can cause hurt, discomfort and possible disadvantage to ourselves. Self-care or prioritising yourself, which may come across as selfish to others, allows us to regain a much-needed balance to our lives.
I always liken this to charging your phone. There is not ONE single night that I will go to bed and not plug my phone into charge. And if the charger doesn’t work, wow the anxiety kicks in. So why don’t we behave the same for our body and mind. We need to recharge and reboot the same as we recharge or reboot our phone. The concept of recharging lets us focus wholly on ourselves, which we need to do to feel relaxed, happy and confident.
In a bid to nourish our mental health, this can sometimes mean taking a hard line on toxic relationships with friends, family or colleagues. I spoke about this a few weeks ago in the blog about energy. Distancing ourselves from people, places or things that are not positive in our life or are causing us angst can be considered selfish. However, these decisions often mean that you’re taking control of your own destiny, building self-confidence and empowerment.
The idea of self-care and looking after yourself as a priority enables you to focus on what you need most!
The second thing I believe it will help is your relationships.
We’re so conditioned to think that in good relationships, there’s no room for selfish behaviour – but the old saying, ‘In order to love others we must first love ourselves’ rings true. We must make sure our own needs are being met while attending to the needs of others. If we don’t do this, we can become bitter and resentful towards our partners in life. If all your time is spent attending to your partner’s emotional and physical needs, you run the risk of yours being neglected.
It’s perfectly healthy to take a few hours out for yourself and indulge in some ‘me’ time. My favourite kind of time, and actually as we speak, I’m sitting in the hairdressers having some wonderful ‘me time’! This kind of selfishness can improve the time you spend with your significant others. It’s important to be able to bring your emotional and physical needs to the attention of other people in your life and be confident that they will also be met. Always be as honest as you can about what you need and want from your relationship – your partner will appreciate you more for it.
Finally, I want us to think about being healthily selfish at work. Don’t be afraid to act in the best interests for your career. Being assertive, standing up for what you believe in and asking for what you want are all selfish acts, but are essential for nurturing working relationships and career advancement. You never know, having those assertive conversations may help you get that promotion or pay rise you’ve been desiring!
So, this week I want you to try and be a little selfish. Positively selfish, with a pinch of self-regard. It’s going to take a lot of effort for me and it may for you too, but I really think it’s about time we make healthy selfishness more apparent.
Putting yourself first is not a negative quality; it’s your job to take care of yourself and get what you need!