We’re taught early in life that any act deemed selfish is considered negative. Unfortunately, the negative connotation is in the definition itself. According to the dictionary on the interwebs, selfish means (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”
Let’s try to unpack this — the definition states “lacking consideration for others”. That seems a bit vague, can one then assume that anything done while lacking consideration for others, is then selfish? If one is wanting to evolve & grow personally, and others aren’t taken into consideration is that then considered selfish?
Is it just me or does the idea of “self” require someone to have an altruistic agenda in order for society to be okay with it? Let’s have fun, and poke holes in some of these long held beliefs. I, also, decided to include the definitions of self, selfless, & selfish just to give us a shared understanding as I use these words interchangeably.
- self – a person’s essential being that distinguishes them from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.”our alienation from our true selves”.
- selfless – concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own; unselfish – an act of selfless devotion.
- selfish – (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”I joined them for selfish reasons”
- *More that can be defined — self-orientation | self-important | self-centered | self-involved | self-regard | self-esteemed | self-assured.
How do we accept the necessity of being selfish in our own lives? How do we reconcile self growth, self preservation, & self interests with the given definition of “selfish”? Below, I’ve listed 7 Selfish Practices that are actually good for you.
I believe, at the end of the day, in order to live a truly authentic life, and the life of your dreams — you are going to have to get selfish. You will have to say no to people pleasing, get honest with yourself & others, and take responsibility for the life you want. There might be some consequences, relationship adjustments, and lessons learned. It might also feel uncomfortable at times, but learning to prioritizing you is completely worth it!
7 Selfish Practices that are actually good for you!
1. Prioritize your well being & self-care practices.
When it comes to your well being and your self-care practices, you are the ultimate authority in your life of what’s best for you. Take the time to explore and dabble within these arenas to find the practices that speak to you and to the future you are cultivating.
- Journaling | morning pages | gratitude.
- Practice movement — walk, stretch, or do your preferred workout.
- Utilize meditation, prayer, or intentional thought work.
- Prioritize personal growth via reading, audiobooks, or podcasts.
- Elevate your skincare and grooming practices, regularly.
- Create an environment that promotes well being.
2. Feel without labeling your feelings as bad or negative.
When we begin to tap into our minds and observe what exactly we are thinking, we might recognize a slew of unpleasant thoughts. However, learning to be an objective observer of our thoughts will require a bit of patience, grace, and neutrality on our behalves. Try to avoid having negative thoughts about your negative thoughts, that can cause an unnecessary thought loop. Remember, our minds are designed to be efficient — if we aren’t intentionally telling our minds what to think, they will inevitably think unconsciously, and by default.
- Remember, you are not your thoughts.
- Don’t label your thoughts as good or bad, or right or wrong.
- Practice observing thoughts with unconditional love for yourself.
- Consistently challenge thoughts & beliefs that no longer serve you.
3. Prioritize your feelings about your life, over the feelings of others concerning your life.
My mentor and life coach instructor Brooke Castillo says that “there is nothing out there that we want independent of how we think we will feel in the having of it.” This stresses that more important than what we think, is how we feel — after all, it is out of our feelings that we take action in our lives. Others will inevitably have their own feelings about your feelings — learn to overlook their feelings about you — someone else’s feelings are none of your concern.
- First, understand that your feelings drive your actions.
- Allow all feelings — don’t resist or avoid them — feel them and then let them go. (They may feel uncomfortable, but the feelings themselves won’t actually harm you.)
- Learn to generate the feelings that you want to feel.
- Remember that other’s opinions about you or your life, are none of your business.
4. Incorporate healthy boundaries.
Boundaries are simply a tool that tells someone how you will conduct yourself if your safety, propriety, physical or emotional spaces are being violated. Setting boundaries from a loving place creates relationships that are free of negativity, at least for you. Enforcing healthy boundaries can feel challenging and uncomfortable at first. However, finding healthy ways to practice this in your life will give you peace of mind in most situations.
- A boundary looks like this: If you continue to do _____ , I will do _____ .
- Allow people to be & do whatever they want (they are out of our control).
- You are only responsible for you — follow through on your boundary restrictions. (Do it out of love for yourself, and the relationship.)
- Don’t use boundaries as attempt to manipulate or control others.
5. Commit to your habits, routines, & rituals.
A famous quote by Will Durant, which is regularly attributed to Aristotle, states “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Regardless of who said it, the truth and wisdom in the sentiment remains in tact. We are what we repeatedly do — therefore, habits, routines, & rituals are of the utmost importance when cultivating who you want to be. Whether it stems around your mental health, physical health, or spiritual growth — commit to you.
- Take inventory and critically evaluate what you repeatedly do.
- Alter & implement the habits, routines, & rituals that aid you in the future you are co-creating.
- Embrace obstacles, and use them a steps when creating a new habit, routine, & ritual.
- Committing to yourself in this way will help you in actualizing your goals, and your dream life.
6. Spend quality time with yourself cultivating your interests, likes & dislikes.
I have heard so many people respond to simple questions concerning what they want, or what they would like, with — “I don’t know”. One of the beauties of living in this time and place (for most of us), we get to decide our interests, likes, & dislikes. Often times though, due to living unconsciously, we don’t take the time to explore what we actually do like. We can quickly discern what we don’t like, but we don’t often foster the opposite. Pay attention to when you catch yourself saying “I don’t know”? Exploring, learning, and cultivating what we enjoy is where the fun is at.
- Challenge old beliefs, likes, & dislikes, especially when you can’t pinpoint them being a conscious decision.
- Get both curious & honest with yourself.
- Take yourself out on dates.
- Try out different activities and see how you respond to them.
- Try new foods you’ve been curious about.
- Read different genres of books to find what brings you pleasure when reading.
- Use Pinterest to create boards with new experiences to explore.
*(This list could go on and on!)
7. Make yourself, your dreams & your goals a priority in your own life.
Too often we dismiss the importance of being committed to our own “self”, and we find ourselves sacrificing us for others. A lot of us have been conditioned from an early age to be people pleasers. As children we were taught by our parents, grandparent, teachers, and other authorities, the importance of respecting others and our elders (sometimes to our own detriment). We were often forced to share, which can often negate the natural development of propriety, as well as a lack of learning ownership and the natural consequences associated with not sharing. Often, as children, we are not taught to have a growth mindset in lieu of a fixed mindset. (Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, is a great read, one I highly recommend.)
- Do some thought work around some of your long held beliefs where you are prioritizing your time for others, in lieu of yourself.
- Be careful when you say yes to someone else, that you are not inadvertently saying no to yourself.
- If you have a goal, practice the art of planning and prioritizing it.
- Learn to honor your calendar. When you put you on your calendar, respect that time over anything else. *Learning to trust yourself is the ultimate game changer!
Being selfish or self-oriented isn’t being mean, and it isn’t inconsiderate. Now, let’s be clear — withdrawing some kind of contribution that you may have made in the past is not selfish either, and it’s not at someone else’s expense. Taking ownership of what you give — of yourself — to others — is a personal choice, and needs to be done consciously. Withholding you or your time from others does not, I repeat, does not harm or cost anyone else. Make sure to give of yourself only when you have it to give, and that it doesn’t cost you.
Being selfish in these simple ways are going to ground you within your authentic self. It is also going to allow you to pour so much into yourself that you will inevitably have much more to pour out to others. Being selfish will afford you opportunities to learn more about who you are, and to develop traits you want & admire, — intentionally. When we practice being selfish in this way (I’ll call it self-regard), we embrace self-responsibility & self-empowerment — essentially creating who we are & who we want to be, for ourselves.