We are taught from a young age that being selfish is bad. We are supposed to share what we have and to put others first. If we follow this precept to the nth degree, we would be selfless – that can’t be right, can it? It would imply that there was nothing left of us.
Of course, most of us don’t ‘stick to the rule’ to that degree – we just feel guilty if we think we might be being selfish!!
I believe there is a distinction between being narcissistic – I only care about me and ignore the needs and wants of others – and being properly selfish.
The bible says: ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ – not instead of yourself. We need to take care of our own needs and feelings to the same level as we do those of others.
When we really care about others, we make sure that we are able to give to them from the heart, not out of duty or obligation. This requires that we have filled our own fuel tank first. As they say when you take a flight: ‘put on your own mask first, before you help others to do so.’ You can’t help someone else to breathe if you can’t breathe!
So don’t say yes when you know you’re running on empty – you will only end up resenting it.
And do give yourself room to be properly selfish – allowing yourself to top up your energy, your good mood. Others will appreciate what you have to give them so much more, because it will be done with a good heart. And the giving will top up your positive feelings even more, because making others feel good is one of the ways we can add to our own good feelings.
We are all sources of happiness and love when we have allowed ourselves to ‘indulge’ our selfishness without guilt. Isn’t that a better way to be in the world?