Let’s talk about being selfish…or the idea of selfishness.
For most of my life I thought selfishness was evil. My main beef with people was when they were being selfish, which to me, meant inconsiderate and the opposite of love. So anytime someone chose sleep over something I thought it was selfish. Or when someone would say they need a vacation I would sit there and judge their work ethic.
So now I’m pretty selfish and I love it. Over the past couple years I’ve been toying with the idea like, “Hmm, maybe I can just not go out with that friend and sleep in instead?” or “What if I do take a longer vacation than a four-day weekend?” or “What about not offering to pay for everything all the time?” Little bits of change here and there. I was testing out my selfish muscles.
This year, a whole new self-love has grown inside. I can see how not only was I being totally delusional in my thinking about the term or idea of selfishness but I was actually being the kind of “bad” selfish that I hated so much. I was being a liar. I was a lying people pleaser who hated the idea of anyone being disappointed in me. What would happen if they found out that I actually didn’t want to hang out with them today? The horror!
When you give from a place of fear, scarcity, or resentment, do you think you’re really giving? Is your true self being used as a gift to the world in those moments? Are you really shining your light or have you set up some kind of inner contraption that just reflects the idea of light and love?
There were many times I was really giving from a place of love and excitement but there were many and I mean many times that I agreed to do stuff with people and for people that I resented and struggled with. I just couldn’t say no to others and I really didn’t know how to say yes to myself. When you love yourself you say yes to your true nature, your true desires and your true needs.
What does it mean to say yes to yourself without being inconsiderate of others? This was the question I could never get the answer to. But now I see that deciding to stay in and rest over going to yet another happy hour with coworkers (that usually ends up in a not-so-happy morning) is perfectly okay, no matter who says they really want you to go. That deciding to abstain from drinking does not take away from the experience of other people. How crazy is it to think that if I drink then other people will have fun and if I don’t then they won’t?? That applies to eating, by the way. I can’t tell you how many times I say no, thank you to someone offering me food I’ve chosen ahead of time not to eat and they try to push it on me. The truth is I love myself more than I want to please you and your expectations of me.
This new choosing me over other people thing is hard work. I’m still learning and failing at it every day. I still slip into people-pleasing quite easily but I’m so sensitive to it that I recognize it immediately and I make my best effort to course correct.
What are the practical ways to take care of your own needs and desires without being inconsiderate or evil? Well, first thing to know deep in your bones is that loving yourself DOES NOT take away the love you have from other people. Love in unlimited. I can love myself AND you. It’s awesome. So, when I’m choosing myself over people-pleasing I can say, “Thank you so much for offering. I appreciate you. I am going to do this…” You’re acknowledging their kind and loving offer (to eat, drink or do something you don’t want to) AND you’re saying what you will be doing. It’s all positive. You’re not having to make up excuses that everyone knows are lies anyway and you can both walk away feeling love for each other. That’s the ideal situation.
What happens when someone is not coming off as loving and kind in their offer? What if they’re being kind of aggressive or trying to emotionally manipulate you?
Same. It’s pretty awesome to be so sure in your decision that you can still choose to think, feel, and act love.
Worried they’re going to feel disappointed? Firstly, they are probably not that wrapped up in it as you are. We tend to overthink everything. Secondly, so what? So what if they feel disappointed in you? If you’re honest with yourself and you know you need to take care of yourself first then they can feel disappointed all day long and it has nothing to do with you. Other people’s opinions are irrelevant.
I laugh to myself as I sit here writing this because if I had said these things a year ago I would have shuddered at the thought of someone being disappointed in me. You might as well have excommunicated me. That’s how heavy I made it feel.
I love knowing that I got my own back in these situations. Think about it this way. Say you and your best friend decide to go to a party together and you ask her to not share with anyone a secret about you. As soon as y’all get to the party the first person you see asks about you and your friend blurts out your secret. You would feel betrayed and like maybe you couldn’t trust her again. And then think about if y’all show up and someone asks about you and she says she doesn’t gossip and keeps your secret safe, looking over at you with a knowing wink that says “I got you.”
I want to be my own best friend that has my back in any situation. My goal is to honor my commitments to myself. That comes to eating, drinking, relationships, time management, work obligations, family. I don’t reach that goal everyday but it’s always the goal.
When I am not my true self and I cannot be what the world actually needs from me. That is being very selfish, in the negative way. My desire to please someone else and get some kind of weird validation from them cannot outweigh my desire to contribute my best self to the world at large.
If I am whole then I get to shine my light so brilliantly that the world can only benefit. That is true giving.
Thanks for reading!!! I love to hear back from readers. What do you think about this topic? Have you had similar experiences? What helped you the most? Please comment below!
*I do not make any money off of this blog. I don’t get any kickbacks from products or books I write about. Just sharing the love!