7 reasons you need to be more selfish and how to own it

“Ugh, she’s so selfish!”, you may have muttered under your breath about someone else in your life probably more than one or two times. Well, hold the phone! Because being selfish – or indeed, more selfish, is having somewhat of a reinvention. Yes people, the times they are a changing. Those days when being branded as selfish, or self-centred are slowly being replaced by an alternative way of thinking, which is that being selfish is actually good! Otherwise known as positive selfishness.

If you are sick of putting everybody else first and putting your needs last. If you are feel that you are being undervalued by those around you whether it be family, friends or work colleagues. If you are feeling like you’re running on empty, spread thinner than the latest iPhone then hold up! Here, Carolyn Hobdey author and founder of Redefining Selfish lays down seven reasons you need to be more selfish and how to own this new breed of positive selfishness.

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We get so caught up in our busy lives, in the groundhog day of work, family and household chores, giving our all to everyone else, trying to avoid careering into a midlife crisis etc that we don’t stop to consider our own needs. When this happens, we can become fed up and frustrated, but how often do we stop and think about what’s causing those feelings?

Here are seven reasons why you might need to be more selfish and what you can do about them:

An endless ‘to-do’ list

When you feel like you’re never getting on top of things in your life, it can be hard to see your way out of the rut. If you’re in a constant state of busy-ness with barely any time to think or catch your breath, then its a sure sign that you need to take some selfish time out.

To do this, you need to determine what is actually important. This helps to sort out that not everything on that list is of equal weight in your life; it gets you away from your ‘to-do’ list being one amorphous mass of stuff. To do this, write everything you have to do on post-its (one item per post-it). Then plot them on a grid with ‘important’ on one axis and ‘urgent’ on the other from low to high for each. Now place the post-its on the grid – be ruthless about what goes where!

be more selfish

Feeling resentful about your life

Even if your life is the picture of ‘success’ or looks like you have it all, it’s ok if you don’t feel that way about it. It’s normal to look at your life and ask yourself, “is this it?”. If you find yourself doing this, or hacked-off by the monotony of your existence, then its time to take stock and be focused about what you want.

To do this, look at the two possible versions of your life. In the first, write down everything that those you know and love will have to say about you at the end of your life if you carried on living it as you are today. If nothing changed, what would be the legacy that you would leave? What would be said about your behaviours and actions?

Then write the alternative version. This includes everything that you want to be said about you – the person you were, the impact you made and how you lived your life. Look at the difference between the two versions, then plan what steps you’d need to take to move from the first version to the second.

Frequently weary or burnt out

Our ‘always on’ society means constant demands on your time and attention.

When you feel like you’re always running on empty, it’s time to take notice. Excessive, extended periods of stress lead to burn-out. Burn-out means you’ll hit a brick wall and your body will prevent you from doing anything, however much your mind wants otherwise. Therefore, prevention is crucial.

Instead, see yourself as a battery; your energy levels are the charging bars. Check in on those bars every day. Keep a record of your energy levels on a scale of 1 to 5. Observe if there is a pattern. Notice if your levels are consistently low or if certain events/people reduce them. Then start doing one thing per day to be kind to yourself. Something exclusively for you that boosts that battery. Build cumulatively on that success.

be more selfish

Stressed or anxious

Life’s endless treadmill naturally leads to stress – especially when we’re expected to have-it-all and be able to do-it-all. The reality is that we’ve no more time in each day than our ancestors had, we’re just expected to cram more in. The negative impacts on our minds and bodies of the relentless cortisol experienced when we’re stressed have been well documented.

Ten minutes each day of thoughtful breathing, mindfulness or guided meditation has been proven to have a significantly beneficial impact on reducing stress and anxiety. Think you don’t have time? Monitor for a week how much time you spend scrolling through social media…

Feeling guilty for putting yourself first

When did showing yourself some respect become a bad thing? If you feel guilty for taking time for self-kindness, then ask whose guilt it is that you’re carrying around. Where does it come from? Who instilled that into you? Is it even your guilt?

To remove this guilt, see this time as an investment in you. When you put yourself first, you’re putting credits into the bank of you – these are just a way to balance out all the debits that you allow others to withdraw. Staying in the ‘black’ with your body’s account is much healthier. 

Not being valued by others

When this happens you need to ask, “what do I do that makes this happen?”. Yes, this might seem harsh on you, but when others treat you badly, it’s frequently because you communicate that you don’t matter.

Want that to change? Start looking at how you treat yourself. Consider what you tell people about your value by the way you prioritise yourself. When you start putting you higher up on your priority list, others will treat you how you treat yourself. Simple.

Thinking being selfish is ‘bad’

Do you tell yourself that if you take time for you, take attention away from others and don’t put those you love first that the whole world is going to cave in? Where does that perception of selfish come from?! When did loving yourself become a thing of shame?

Change your mindset about ‘selfish’. You can’t rescue anyone if you’re drowning; put your own life-vest on before helping others. When you look at self-care as being a way in which you can better serve those you love, then it becomes self-less to be selfish.

Shifting your mindset about what it means to be selfish is about learning to value you.

You matter. Believe that.

Do you ever wish you were more selfish? Could you see yourself redefining the concept of selfishness to the benefit of your confidence and wellbeing? Do share a comment below and keep the conversation going over on our Instagram community here.

Background photo created by benzoix, Love photo created by wayhomestudio, Flower photo created by gpointstudio

11 thoughts on “7 reasons you need to be more selfish and how to own it

  • I love this twist on the word selfish. Most people think that taking care of yourself is being selfish but it’s actually just being your own advocate.

  • It’s interesting that you posted this. Over the years, I have been told more than once that I need to be more selfish. The reason, others have told me, is that we live in a selfish, cynical world and people don’t appreciate my generosity, often believing I have selfish motives anyway! I hear what they are saying, but it’s extremely difficult to make this drastic of a change.

  • You definitely need to know when to be selfish because if you’re not pouring into yourself, you wouldn’t be able to give anything to anyone.

  • I feel as a I’d it is about self care. The selfish feeling is out emotional attachment to the discomfort of saying no

  • Being selfish isn’t complete bad, if it only means choosing YOU first. I am very honest with my husband about this, and he knows that I will always choose myself first. Just like when you are in an airplane – in case of emergency, you have to wear your oxygen mask first, before others so that you can help more.

  • This actually makes sense. There are times that we have to choose ourselves. Many will call it selfish but honestly, I call it self-love.

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