Are you selfish or selfless?
When I decided to divorce, I was called selfish more times than I can count. Others thought I was putting myself first before my husband and children. In fact, I was, but I did it just as much for myself as I did it for my children. I was selfish and sadly, it took a long time to get to that point and be OK with it. I did not want my children to grow up with my marriage as an example. I could not be a present and happy mother in that marriage. I had to love myself enough to know that I deserved a better life.
So what’s so wrong with being selfish? Would people have preferred that I lived a life of misery? People would say that I didn’t try hard enough but how do they know how hard I tried? I imagine it’s like trying to tell someone to choose not to be homosexual. It’s not a choice, it just is and either one suffers in non-acceptance or they flourish in their truth. I had to live my truth because living a lie was nothing more than a slow, painful death sentence. To accept such a sentence is completely selfless because one is NOT at all thinking of themselves. Feelings of shame, unworthiness, or thinking we are undeserving can rule our life and make us believe that we must accept our “punishment” or fate.
Everyone knows someone who is always helping others. They are called selfless people all the time, but have you ever sat down and talked with one of these people? Often, they are exhausted, unhappy and unfilled. How can that be? I believe many times, these people feel an obligation, a duty to always help others. Coming from this place does not make the work fulfilling, it’s quite the opposite. Ever notice they literally refuse to take time for themselves? I feel it’s some sort of self-punishment. Now recall the helpful person who feels extreme enjoyment from helping others. That, to me, is selfish…and good. They are doing what fulfills them, which is helping others. And honestly, those they are helping can tell the difference.
When I think of the person I love (such as a spouse or boy/girlfriend), I think, why do I love them? I love them because they make me happy and fulfill me in some way (We have children because they fulfill a need to have one!). That is selfish, right? Of course, I give to the other for giving to me, but I have served myself first. I then continue to be selfish because making the other person happy makes me happy. I am giving out of a true place in my heart, not out of obligation.
We have all had our heart broken. Remember thinking the other person was cruel and selfish? In fact, we were the one’s being cruel in not allowing the other to be selfish. We wanted that person to stay even though it did not make them happy. Is it not cruel to wish unhappiness on a person we supposedly “love?” If we served the greater good in our true self we would want the one’s we love to live their own life, whether we agree with it or not. I have been on both sides of this scenario and I can say that I have never felt love from someone who was desperate to keep me at the expense of us both.
Many years ago I made choices from a very needy place and I believe that was my most selfless moment. I was not putting me or any one first. I was hurting myself and therefore, hurting my family. If I had thought higher of myself, had more confidence, but most importantly, had been a more aware human being, I would not have let my ego rule my life. I fed my ego that wanted to feel needed, smart, and beautiful. I allowed it to hurt me beyond anything I could have ever imagined. If I had had love for my true self, I would not have went on a journey that led me to wanting to end my life.
For me, being selfish is putting myself first so that I can be the best I can be to others. How can I be a present and loving mother if I never take time for what is important to me? Being fulfilled in my own life, that is doing what makes me happy, also creates a higher self-awareness, makes me a better wife, more helpful to others, and more pleasant to be around. It is why I sit here and write. I want to help others because it fulfills my soul.
9 thoughts on “Being selfish gets a bad rap.”
Been wanting to write about this blog for ever, you took the words right out of my mouth. Awesome job! I have no idea where this whole “selfish” thing came from but it needs to stop. Thanks for sharing your powerful thoughts! XXX
Thanks so much for your kind words as always. I know we are on the same page about many things and I love it! 😊
You are spot on. As a therapist I do not always believe staying in a relationship
“For the sake of the kids” is either healthy for them or the couple. And your right mom and dad are the models of not only their future spouses but sets the template for how to be in a relationship ( communication, compromise, healthy arguing, etc)
Lastly I can’t tell you how many kids I see that are often relieved their parents no longer stay married. The anger, tension, and toxicity is like a thickness in the air that makes living in the home incredibly distressing for kids. Anyway
Good for you. I bet your kids are happier because you both are happy and probably better parents as a result.
Thank you so much for reading and offering your insightful comments. It is all so true! As children get older it seems to become more visibly apparent the uncomfortableness that they feel when parents argue. Their entire demeanor changes without saying a word. It looks and feels like fear manifesting. Makes me feel sad just thinking about it! Anyway, thank you again for visiting!
Your post made me think about so many things. And it put into perspective a lot of the issues from my own marriage. We didn’t work because we kept expecting the best from each other without giving each other the best of us. That is so sad. And realising it makes me believe that I can change that the next time around. I hope!
Thank you for sharing that. I’m happy it made you think because that is all I want out of my posts! Your awareness is such an incredible step. Life is full of lessons. I think what makes life a bit easier is that we learn from the lessons being thrown at us instead of repeating them over and over.
When I was 21 and had just graduated college I read a book that changed/fired my life forever. Actually, it was really a confirmation of some things I’d always felt were right, but that most of us are taught wrongly from the beginning of our lives. In essence, you have summed part of it up here when you touch on the real issues behind selfishness and selflessness. If you think about it… every choice you or anyone makes is ALWAYS selfish (as it should be).
Your choices are always what you feel will make you happiest at that moment. If philanthropy makes you happy for certain reasons, so be it. It is also about ‘individualism’ vs. ‘the collective’ and ‘quality’ vs. making more money, and much more. Idealistically each person would strive to make them-self happy without infringing on others who are doing the same. Of course the world doesn’t quite work that way and never will. But the message becomes a powerful motivating force.
Anyway, the book is famous for changing many peoples lives as it is a classic, It is a novel about the philosophy of Ayn Rand’s ”objectivism’ called “The Fountainhead”. I read all her books after reading it, but the message is the same in every one. It is a great read that I highly recommend! Cheers.
I’ve never heard of that book but I will be sure to check it out! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am happy that you were so young when you came across all this…I learned much later in life. That was my journey I chose to take though. Keep evolving! Thanks for being here! 😊