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Why Selfish Is Not Always a Dirty Word
2019-09-03 09:30:49

Why Selfish Is Not Always a Dirty Word


Most of us would probably be uncomfortable if someone described us as selfish. It’s not usually a word that gets tossed around as a compliment. However, it turns out being selfish from time to time might not be that bad. Believe it or not, prioritizing our needs can actually be good for our well-being, professional goals, and even our relationships.

Self-care is important for our well-being

Taking the time to listen to our needs and do nice things for ourselves is so important. Self-care isn’t a fad and it definitely isn’t selfish, at least not in the typical negative way. Putting ourselves first and indulging in some much-needed self-care, like taking a rain check with friends to have that relaxing evening at home we’ve been craving, is often the best thing we can do for our health and well-being.

Self-care isn’t a fad and it definitely isn’t selfish, at least not in the typical negative way.

At times, we can also practice self-care in unexpected ways, like choosing to leave an unhappy relationship, even though it might hurt or disappoint others, like our partner or our family. Regardless of what form it takes, prioritizing our needs sends a really powerful message to ourselves that we think we’re worth it.

Unsurprisingly, this can really benefit our overall self-esteem and self-worth. 

Being selfish helps us reach our professional goals

Taking a step back and prioritizing our personal needs can actually help us be more productive and effective at work. Not only are we better equipped to handle the stress that inevitably comes up, we’re less resentful of all the things we have to do when they don't interfere with our ability to take care of ourselves.

Prioritizing ourselves can actually help our relationships

You’re probably already familiar with the saying: “You can’t pour from an empty cup".  The truth is, we’re in a much better position to help someone else when we take care of our own needs first. We’re also less likely to take out our stress on the people closest to us when we’ve prioritized our own well-being. In this way, being selfish from time to time can actually help us to be a kinder and more supportive friend or partner.

We’re in a much better position to help someone else when we take care of our own needs first.


Focus on where the balance is shifted

When things get busy or tough, our physical and psychological health, hobbies or passions, and need for social connection are usually the first to go. If we want to feel more comfortable being selfish, a good place to start is with the things we so easily neglect. It can be  helpful to ask the people we’re closest with. Our friends, partners, and family members often have great insight into the areas where we can be a little more selfish and the things we can do to meet our needs.

Learn to say no (and feel okay about it)

As long we’re not hurting someone else, taking care of ourselves isn’t something we should feel badly about.

Agreeing to do things we don't always feel like doing, whether it’s attending yet another family get-together or working late, is a big part of adulting. However, there are moments when we could all benefit from putting our own needs first and saying no. While it’s really tempting to apologize when turning someone down, saying we’re sorry communicates that we’ve done something wrong, which often leads to our own guilt (that ultimately takes away from the benefits of being selfish in the first place).

Get in touch with your resistance

We all have different reasons why we’re uncomfortable prioritizing our own needs. There might even be a part of us that feels like we’re too busy to prioritize our well-being or that we don't deserve it. These are, in fact, the moments when being selfish and engaging in self-care is actually most important. Getting in touch with our resistance is the best way to begin to challenge it. Re-visiting our assumptions after we’ve committed to self-care is also really important. Chances are, most of us have overestimated how harmful and underestimated how helpful it will be.
Ultimately, selfishness isn’t just about caring for ourselves at the expense of everyone around us. It can also be choosing to care for ourselves in the same way that we care for the people around us. You just might be surprised with how helpful being selfish can be, not just for you but also for the people you’re closest with.


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