I bet that if I called you 'selfish' it wouldn't feel like a compliment.
We’re taught that there is virtue in selfLESSness. I'm going to go against the grain a little bit here and say, I really don't like the word 'selfless'. I don't like a word that broken into two parts, means LESS of self, or even without SELF. If I'm not living my life for myself, am I really living at all?
Selfishness for me means including ME, not EXCLUDING you.
"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity". Ayn Rand
We have made being selfish bad. We have made selfish people wrong, undesirable, even evil. Let's redeem the concept of selfishness by reminding ourselves that being selfish is not evil. Pursuing and acting out of your own self interest is not bad. There is a fundamental difference between someone who pursues their self interest in say, starting a business versus someone who pursues it in robbing a bank. The 'selfish' pursuit of personal interest is not evil, bad, or wrong. The question is not in the pursuit of self interest, but in what one chooses to pursue. Not in valuing self interest, but in what one chooses to value. Selfishness does not corrupt us, we corrupt selfishness.
"The man who does not value himself cannot value anything or anyone." -Ayn Rand
What if we define "selfish" differently? What if all it is, is choosing to care enough about YOU to make sure that your needs and wants are met? I believe in choosing to be the driver in your own life. When we allow other people's wants, needs, and standards to drive and motivate our lives, we relinquish responsibility and by default expect other people to create happiness for us. We take ourselves out of choice. We become needy.
When we are needy, we act under the expectation that other people will have, do, and be things for you. Not only does this take you out of the driver's seat of your life, it disables your authenticity. A certain honesty comes with being selfish. Being selfish is the willingness to be all of you- no apologies. If you were really being all of you, what MORE would you be? How would YOU be more selfish?
I have found that the simplest way I am able to help other people, is by being more of myself. Being more of myself means getting selfish. Scratch that. It means getting self- full. This means being unapologetic about who we are, and what we want and need. It also means taking the time and effort to fill ourselves up with what is required for us to live full, happy, wholehearted individual lives. When we are more honest, more real, more upfront, and more clear, it becomes an invitation for others to get self- full so that they can do and be the same. When we put ourselves first we are not only more able, but far more willing to help those around us without resentment or outside pressure.
"To say 'I love you' one must first be able to say the 'I'." -Ayn Rand
We are conditioned to "lose ourselves" for the sake of others. I think there is a really important distinction that needs to be made here. Losing track of time or personal worry, even losing old perspectives and gaining new ones while doing things for others, is a wonderful part of life. However, no matter what I am doing, I never want to lose MYSELF. I never want to allow the 'virtue of selflessness' to be taken to such an extreme that I become anything less than everything I am.
Who are you? Start answering that question because I promise you, it is impossible to put yourself first if you don't know who YOU are. Jay Noland speaks simply and powerfully about this here,
My favorite people, are very selfish people in the best way possible. They have a power and independence that is both addicting and inviting. It inspires me to do, and be, and have more of MYSELF. What a gift.
Are you willing to cultivate selfullness?