“Selfishness must always be forgiven you know because there is no hope of a cure.”
Jane Austen 1814. Mansfield Park.
Let’s face it some people are inherently selfish, only thinking of themselves, their own success, happiness and want. I am sure we all know someone like this, I myself have unfortunately seen it first hand and dealt with an ex-partner who did nothing to help me around the house and only thought of his own needs 24/7 . Oblivious to his behaviour and the impact it had on those around him.
It is this type of behaviour which makes us all see being selfish as a negative state.
Being selfish in moderation can actually be very healthy – I promise! the moment you realise you are struggling with putting everything and everyone else before your own mental well-being and physical health, is when you start to think being selfish isn’t something to always mock but something to aspire too. Whenever I stop and take a break is when I actually appreciate the many blessings in my life which when I am just thinking of others I never have the chance to appreciate and can at times resent.
Always Thinking of Others First
Life is full of questions, choices and options, how many times do you put your choice forward when it involves other or how many times do the same old responses creep in?;
“I don’t mind, what do you want to do?” (Why would I put my choice forward and appear like a selfish Sally).
“You choose”. (Not sure why you are asking Sandra, as we all know we are going to the pub nearest to you again).
“No you have it, I’m not even hungry” (as your belly growls).
“Come on don’t be a letdown, stay for another few drinks” (and you stay out of duty as your eyes are kept open with willpower alone).
Don’t worry you are not alone, most of us are always trying to please others and feel the need to look after others peoples thoughts and needs but like anything you can change this.
The Guilt Reflex – Retrain Your Instincts;
Most of us are guilty of it thanks to the inbuilt guilt reflex to be a good person at all times, all trying to please others and be as unselfish as possible, sometimes this is healthy sometimes it can be self-destructive.
Growing up your parents probably taught you the vital life lesson of sharing and being selfless and making sure that you knew being selfish was not a good personality trait. Years of being taught this life lesson will inevitably mean that your brain is trained to believe this is true on all occasions and means that sometimes this mostly positive trait can actually cause harm to your own well being.
It is not only our parents that reinforce this view, society as a whole now judges most of us in our current time as being lazy, entitled and more selfish than in any time in history. I feel we are actually less selfish as we try and divide our time between all the different threads of our life, work, family, friends, health and trying to win at every level.
Think of how you feel when you give in and have some ‘me time’. Relaxed, calm, guilty? The guilt reflex will always be there but remember it needs to be kept in balance.
Earlier in the year I had a health breakdown, my skin developed a rash of angry lumps which was diagnosed as rosacea acne, I tried to carry on but in the end I went to work one day and spoke to my manager and walked out of the office again, I wasn’t fit mentally or physically to be there and in the long run would have done more harm to myself and my job and those I look after if I had stayed. How many times have you gone to work when you are not well, for fear of letting people down or worrying what others think (you are a sick note or a skiver). Lets face it, we all know when we are not well enough to leave the house but many are guilty of forcing themselves so not to let down others. Just think about this, how many times have you told a colleague to go home, we give others the advice we never listen to ourselves, listen to yourself you are your own expert lets face it.
Expectations from Friends and Family
This ill health experience taught me a lot and it gave me a reason to open up the discussion with friends and family about the need for my rest and put myself first whilst I recovered. I have explained to my friends that sometimes I have to be selfish for my own mental health but have told them why and tried to look for alternatives (meeting up on a Sunday afternoon instead of when I’m a zombie after work).
Do not be held hostage to social media either, be strong if you are in a WhatsApp group that isn’t doing anything but make you feel obliged to post or annoy you, then get the hell out of there. If people can’t accept that they are not your friend.
Handy Top Tips For Being Selfish
1.) Remember no more guilt, People will actually like and enjoy your company more as you are happier, less stressed and genuinely a pleasure to be around! Your time is your own, not Dave’s, not Tina next door, not the Bob in marketing, YOURS.
2.) Me time is not a crime! Everyone needs this time for mental health, make the time for you as much as you can without hurting others.
3.) Physical health improves as stress decreases so the better you feel about you the more you can give to others.
4.) No one can make you happy but you, if you don’t look after your needs why expect others too.
5) And lastly don’t forget some of those selfless moments, balance is key; Sometimes being selfless can actually turn in a selfish trait also – doing something for others can actually make us feel good.
You are special and you are just as important as every other person you try to keep happy in this life.
-Bloom From The Darkness
Author Bio: Lucy works for a charity which provides housing to people with mental or physical disabilities and writes in her spare time for Breathe News as a volunteer journalist and her own blog: lucyjweb.wordpress.co.uk