A conversation with hubby recently went along the lines of us agreeing that we were being selfish because we want better for ourselves than we have now. It really made me think.
Are you selfish? I know I am.
Not in the Merriam- Webster Dictionary way of “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others” kind of way, but in the more modern version of what selfish has become – I am interested in my own happiness.
Somehow the definition of selfish – someone who exploits others and cares for nothing but their own ends – gets lumped with any kind of behaviour that pushes one’s own pleasure before the pleasure of others. That causes problems!
How many times have you heard “I’m selfish because I want to be happy”, “I’m selfish because I spend time with my friends”, “I’m selfish because I’m spending time on my own”, “I’m selfish because I’m doing something I like for a change”, “I’m selfish because I said no ??
I mean I was talking to someone, who lives on their own, just the other day, and she commented that she was selfish. When I asked why, she answered “because I eat dinner when I want, don’t go out if I don’t want to, and do go out if I do feel like it”. I asked why that makes her selfish. I explained that it means you live your life for your self. It means you care for your self. (And no matter how much grammar correct wants me to put the word yourself – that’s not what I mean. I mean your self).
In today’s society, I truly think that we bandy the word selfish around too easily, and incorrectly. Because we choose to look after ourselves, or say no to a request, for some that is deemed selfish. So selfishness is condemned. Is it any wonder we feel guilt for any kind of happiness or enjoyment we pursue for ourselves, rather than others?
Really, do I have to put everyone’s needs before mine? Oh hang on, I’m a woman, and a mum, so yes!
Na-ah!! No! There I said it (and I’m watching my inbox).
How the bloody hell can I look after others, if I haven’t looked after my self. It’s amazing how thinking about looking after ourselves first brings up guilt, or shame, or fear of being judged. But honestly, I’ll say it again, how can we help others if we don’t look after ourselves first? (It’s ok, I won’t put in the analogy of the oxygen mask on the plane – oh wait, I just did!)
Why do we think “I’ll do this first, I’ll help them first, I’ll see them first, and then I’ll sort myself out”? Why do we leave ourselves last?
I think it comes from a combination of what society see women as – caring, nurturing and putting the needs of others before their own – and our own preconceived idea of what a ‘good, selfless’ person is; think of others before yourself. (How many of you have had parent/s that said something along those lines to you whilst you were growing up? “It’s selfish to do what you want, let your sister go first”. How come she gets the first go, and it doesn’t make her selfish!? I don’t understand. I mean I get it if you’ve already had ten goes on the slippery dip and won’t let her on, but hey… Sorry I digress – childhood memories)
But you get my drift?
We think of ourselves as selfish because we want to look after ourselves, and be happy – that’s not the way to go about it according to some. We’re supposed to sacrifice our self love and happiness just to make sure everyone else is happy.
Well bollocks to that!
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your Happiness a priority. It’s necessary”.
It’s actually selfish NOT to self care. Self care is about nurturing and loving ourselves, caring for ourselves, not just for our benefit but for the benefit of everyone around us. If I don’t nurture my self and I’m feeling crap, I can guarantee, pretty soon, those around me will feel crap too, either by osmosis or just because of the way I treat them (hey if I’m feeling crappy – you can too). But if I’m feeling on top of the world, then before long you’ll be on top of it with me. Again, either by osmosis or I’ll beat you into submission with my happiness.
Honestly if we don’t look after ourselves, who will?
You need dreams of your own. You need time on your own (or with your girlfriends/matesJ if that’s what makes you happy). You need to pursue your happiness.
Not to be selfish. But to be more selfless.
If you spend time on feeling great, then you can spend time helping others feel great. Which then makes you feel great. Which means you can spend more time helping others feel great. Which makes you feel great…
So go on try it for a while. Put yourself first. And see how many people actually benefit from that!
Start Kicking Up Your Heels,
(Image Credits: Aftermom)