why 'selfish' is not a dirty word

14th February 2017

jessica cox | why 'selfish' is not a dirty word

This blog post was inspired by one of my besties. Often the ones who have the biggest hearts and give the most are the ones who forget to give to themselves.

 

You’re being selfish. It sounds so negative doesn’t it. The word selfish conjures up thoughts of over indulgent behaviour and self entitlement that reflects poorly on who we are as a person. 

I’m here to tell you that is all a load of rubbish.

Selfish by definition means: lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.

I found it fascinating when looking up the definition for selfish that the synonyms included egocentric, self-serving alongside inward looking and self-loving. Surely to look inside ourselves and act in a way that expresses self-love is not a negative behaviour?

I believe there are two roads one can take with selfishness. One is the classic picture the word denotes to do with egocentric behaviour that is at the expense of others around us. However, when our actions are self-regarding in nature and not at the expense of anyone else, aimed purely at improving our own wellbeing, then surely this is a positive behaviour.

The unfortunate fact is that these two different expressions of selfishness are bound into one negative connotation, no matter what the actual reason is for the conduct.

The positive aspects of selfish expression are often an absent trait in many clients I see at the JCN Clinic. Just the deed of making an appointment for oneself alone is a huge step for some. It says ‘I am important enough to spend time and money on myself’. Outside of this step the barriers are plentiful. Woman in particular tend to put themselves at the bottom of the pile. If it’s a partner and/or children the thought patterns are always around how any changes will impede the rest of the family first, before even considering the notion that perhaps the family can learn to slowly adapt to the changes, then in turn make the family unit more healthy and happier.

The same actions are so often seen in business. The ‘selfish’ notion is applied when one needs to take a small break to eat some lunch instead of working throughout the entire day without any food or minimal water. You see your clients and/or work as more important than you, your employees more important than you, the success of your business more important than you. Any focus on yourself is a compromise on your business or work place.

At the root of this behaviour (from my perceptive) is a worry about what others think of our actions. What would our colleagues or work mates think about us finishing early once a week to attend a yoga class? Surely they would think you were slack and not 'giving' enough. What would your husband think if you wanted to exclude dairy from your diet? Surely he would think it was a hassle to your meals and think it was unreasonable of you to expect the rest of the family to accommodate such changes.

The irony is, that if we asked the people whose responses we fretted about in our heads they would 9 out of 10 times tell us – yes! Please do that for yourself! I want you to feel better. I want you to feel less stressed, less sick. Ask yourself if the shoe was on the other foot, wouldn’t you want the people you cared for and the people you worked with to feel at their best?

Realistically this type of behaviour of believing taking care of yourself is selfish is wrapped up in another blog post dear to my heart ‘why are you self-sabotaging your own health’, because that is what this behaviour is. Ultimately you are self-sabotaging your own road to a healthier and happier you. Whether is because of the expectations you create in your own head from your family or your work place, or from yourself, you are sacrificing what is best for you.

Next time you feel that sensation wash over you of ‘no I can’t’, it will affect my work colleague/husband/kids and I need to put them first - think again. Is it going to affect them in a negative way or are you just avoiding providing yourself the attention you deserve as an important human being. 

comments powered by Disqus