Selfish is a word we use out of context too often in my opinion.
As soon as somebody thinks about their own needs we sometimes deem them as selfish, when really why should we expect anything different?
Aren’t we actually being selfish thinking they should put our needs above theirs?
Being a 37 yo single woman with no kids, quite often my lifestyle has been referred to as selfish.
Mmmm I’m very sorry but that is just blatantly incorrect.
Putting myself first whilst thinking of the effect it has on others is NOT selfish.
Putting my needs above others is actually the only way I can build self esteem and honor myself … it is the natural way.
By not putting my needs first or adhering to the honesty of what is right I am neither serving myself or the world. I am not a martyr.
A well known example of this is when somebody is drowning you must not jump in but throw them something to hold on to. How does it serve anybody to jump in to an almost certain death?
Another example is fixing your oxygen mask before that of your children with complications on a plane. Only then can you be the maximum help and there is much more likelihood that your child will survive.
As adults it is our job both spiritually and in every way to serve ourselves so we can serve others.
Each isolated incident may seem selfish to others, but each time we negate our own needs we become weaker. So then how do we serve?
If I am feeling sick but it is somebodies birthday am I best to send wishes and stay home to get better and live my best life? Or should I push myself to go so as not to disappoint somebody when I obviously need to honor my body and stay home and rest? Not to mention infecting other people with my germs … is that not essentially the more selfish option as I would be choosing to be liked over other peoples health and wellbeing as well as my own?
If I am happy about something happening in my life and I express that feeling to a friend knowing they are feeling quite down at that moment, does this mean I am selfish? How could an expression of sincere happiness be selfish? Only if I ignore my friends feelings altogether. But if I am there to hold a hand and offer advice it is wrong of me to act downtrodden to make somebody feel better. It is not honest.
A real friend will accept my feelings of euphoria the same way I accept they are feeling down. At an emotional arms length and as much understanding as possible.
If I have more freedoms in my life than yours, that doesn’t make me selfish.
If I have more money than you that doesn’t make me selfish.
If I choose to tell you what is going on in my life, that doesn’t make me selfish.
If I haven’t been able to find a life partner at this juncture in my life it is a sadness and loneliness I must live with… it is not selfish.
The dictionary definition…
1. devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
2. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives.
Based on the above definition I would challenge us to start thinking outside of our limited views on other peoples actions as they are usually based upon our own selfishness ie how it effects us or makes us feel.
It is not wrong to be concerned primarily with ones own interests, benefits, welfare etc… only if it is regardless of others.
It is not selfish to care for oneself, but if ‘only’ for oneself.
If you make a decision that serves you after assessing the impact on others then you are not only caring for oneself.
We need to start expecting humankind to make the best decision for ourselves. An enlightened person would do so out of ultimate service to others.
If I sit around all day thinking about how I can help mankind with no means to do so I am more selfish than the business tycoon who acts and makes enough money to help hundreds or millions of people.
Or is it?
If I am a mother who goes to work to support my children and give them the best I can and I honestly do this for the perceived good of my children, I am not acting selfishly. Just as being a stay at home mum and struggling financially but being there for my kids emotionally is not selfish. It just means both mothers have a different set of values and neither are right or wrong.
So doing what is best for you to be the best person you can in any given situation is NOT selfish.
It is necessary.
If we all did this mankind would be extremely empowered with high self esteem and little inclination to take … as we would know that giving is the biggest gift.
We can only give what we have.
Monks sit for years meditating to find enlightenment, in reality giving very little back to the world at large. They know it is their duty to attain the highest spirituality they can.
In Christianity it is taught that god is within us … so to honor god we must honor ourselves.
For those women and people who run themselves into the ground tending to everybody elses needs, you need to stop and tend to your own needs.
In order to give.