You know I thug 'em, fuck 'em, love 'em, leave 'em... Cause I don't fuckin' need 'em
Recently, someone close to me called me selfish. While I felt an immediate sting from the feedback, I was also reminded of a past conversation with my rockstar therapist about reframing selfishness. Stay tuned, more on that below...
After a couple of days of my own reflection of the criticism, trying my best to look AT myself from the outside (and duh calling my bestie to process), I wanted to get an objective opinion from someone whose perspective I value. Their assessment of my selfishness was similar to what I had deduced during my own reflection, so I gave myself a big 'ol pat on the back for self-honesty.
The commonly held notion of selfishness includes having a lack of regard for others. Typically, someone who is selfish is concerned ONLY about themselves, not about anyone else. It's easy to see how selfishness can be detrimental to any relationship, as someone who has consideration only for themselves would not have consideration for their friends, lovers, family, colleagues, etc. - and consideration for those you care about is essential for building and maintaining relationships.
SELFLESS: having or showing great concern for other people and little or no concern for yourself
- definition by Mirriam-Webster
Digging a little bit deeper, the opposite of selfishness is selflessness, which means having no concern for oneself. Hmm... this puts us into a bit of a pickle, don't ya think? Having to choose between either concern for others OR concern for ourselves? We can probably all agree that society values selflessness over selfishness, but there is something to be said about "seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or wellbeing." If you have ever flown on a plane, what do they tell you during the emergency procedures speech? To position your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs. Because you can't help others if you don't first help yourself, right? Right. So while there are clear detriments to the lack of consideration for others that selfishness can entail, there are also several benefits (both individual and relational!) of focusing and prioritizing your own welfare.
1. You'll be happier
One of the ways my trusted confidante described me as being selfish is that I set fairly hard boundaries with others, and prioritize things that bring me joy, comfort, enjoyment and fulfillment. For example, from late August to early February or so, I have a hard rule that Sundays are for football. I refuse to commit to activities on Sundays during these months that don't revolve around football - particularly when the Cowboys are on! Selfish? Maybe. However, football is something that I enjoy very much. It is also something that the boo and I enjoy together, so it allows us to spend quality, dedicated time together. I am the happiest of pandas on a Sunday.
Something else I've started doing over the years is only committing to social events out of desire, rather than out of obligation. This may also be selfish. But I gotta tell ya - SO MUCH JOY! Homies, I can't even tell you how good it feels to veg out in my sweats on a Friday night instead of spend my free time somewhere I don't really want to be. And let's be honest - somewhere I'm probably not really missed. And let's be even more honest, how much fun am I going to be out and about if I'd rather be binge watching the Golden Girls?
Let's reframe: being selfish means being self-aware - knowing what you need and knowing how to communicate that to others (with respect and compassion). And if I'm happier, won't I be more pleasant to be around? When we are able to spend more time focusing on ourselves, we are able to be more authentic and happy.
2. You'll be healthier
Another reframe: selfishness may also manifest in self-care. SELF CARE IS MY FAVORITE! Whether that means prioritizing time for sleep to recharge and refresh (totes me - ask my lover), dictating a certain restaurant for brunch with your girlfriends, or spending money on travel rather than buying property, focusing on behaviors that enrich and maintain your own physical, spiritual, mental and emotional health allow you to have more energy to expend on others (so selfishness allows you to be more selfless? mind. blown.)
3. Your relationships will improve
When we spend time nourishing our minds, bodies, and souls, we are more able to "show up" to our relationships - be it with friends, lovers, fam, coworkers, etc. - ready and able to give them the time and energy they deserve. We are also able to more accurately articulate our needs and boundaries to others, increasing open and honest communication with those we care about.
Also, one of the most "selfish" things we can do for ourselves is to work on ourselves. I am a huge advocate of talk therapy, and think it can be an invaluable resource for objective and guided self-reflection and continual improvement. One of my former students said that she loved therapy because it was "the only time [she] can talk about [her]self for an hour without feeling selfish" - ha! Well girl, reframe and embrace that selfish! Working on yourself (selfish) makes you a more capable and prepared relationship partner (selfless). BOOM!
So while the holiday season is characterized by a spirit of giving, consider giving the ones around you the gift of a better you - a you that is happier, healthier, and a better relationship partner. Get on with your selfish self!
What are some ways that you guys are selfish? What are some of your priorities that keep you happy and healthy? What are important boundaries to you?