Selfish is not a dirty word. Let’s change it up!


When we talk of a person being selfish it’s usually with a negative connotation. “Oh her, she’s SO selfish!” “I wish you would stop being so selfish!” I’d like to start a movement to change that.

First let’s look at the definition according to the Oxford dictionary:

adjective: (Of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

Now for a few synonyms: egocentric, egotistic, egotistical, egomaniacal, self-centred, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-serving, wrapped up in oneself, self-loving; inconsiderate, thoughtless, unthinking, uncaring, heedless, unmindful, regardless, insensitive, tactless, uncharitable, unkind; mean, miserly, grasping, mercenary, opportunistic, out for what one can get informal looking after number one, on the make
Do you get the feeling that being selfish isn’t seen as an admirable trait?
Now on the other hand those in the self care/personal development space are very wisely encouraging us to fill our own cup before helping others. I like to use the analogy of flying on a plane. What do the safety instructions tell us? If the oxygen masks drop down, fix your own before helping anyone else. Why is that? Because if we’re dead then we can’t help anyone, obvious isn’t it? That’s not being selfish, that’s common sense.
I propose that we reconsider our definition of selfish. In my humble opinion if we can invoke the positive aspects of selfishness without the egotistical and self serving parts, then we become more whole human becomings as a result.
It starts with a sense of self. I believe we all must have a strong sense of self. Without one, how can we possibly know who we are, what makes us tick and how we fit, and therefore how we best we can live in and provide service in the world? Get to know YOU, the wonderful person you are. Sit quietly offline with no distractions somewhere really comfortable with a book and a pen and complete the sentence, beginning with your name……… is…….. Write it out. All of it. The junk, the good bits, the shit and the stuff. Write it as if nobody in the world is ever going to see it but you. Spend time in the coming weeks getting to know the essence of YOU. Every single aspect of YOU, unique and wonderful YOU! You might be surprised at who you really are and what you truly want, like and wish for when you ask yourself the question.

image source: Huffington Post

Once we have a sense of self, it is our responsibility and nobody else’s to take care of that special self. Self care is something that some people are great at, and some of us (me included) totally suck at. Oh I can talk it, write it, preach it and teach it but I have failed miserably at walking it. I have a phrase that I use a lot and it’s that I’m great at outsourcing my self care, which sounds hilarious and there is so much to it that I will write about it separately, but it has been true.

Until now.

I turned 50 at the end of December and I decided that my focus for my 50th year is self love and self care and I have put many things in place to make that my number one priority. For the first time in my life I actually have a word for the year and my word for this year is nourish. What a beautiful word that gives a feeling of support and comfort just by saying it and writing it. Consider having a word for this year and ensuring that all you do supports that. It is a powerful technique. Self care is YOUR responsibility, no matter how many ways I tried to outsource it, it doesn’t work. Spend time looking at your needs, and what you need to do for yourself and what you need from others to facilitate the highest levels of care you can imagine. Get those needs met! Every single day! You only get one shot at this life, so let’s get this part right!

Self care can be challenging for others in your life if they aren’t used to you putting yourself first. You are highly likely to be accused of being selfish when you start to put yourself and your needs ahead of all else and this may cause dynamics to shift in some relationships, especially when those relationships depend on you being the one who gives of themselves beyond the level of what’s healthy. Since the beginning of this year I’ve seen this play out in different settings and it’s fascinating to observe human behaviour when you don’t behave as people expect you to. It’s ok. It’s life. Life is an ever evolving series of incredulous and wonderful experiences and we move through and change constantly. If I reflect back on just a year ago and compare it to the Rae-Anne today, all I can say is wow, well done girl! 88d41eb4614c13fda2a004cf8195e9aeIn addition to self care, self love must be way up there, and that usually follows a strong sense of self, but it isn’t always an easy process, depending on where you have been in your life up until that point. For this I highly recommend looking at working with affirmations, perhaps some mirror work, and being very mindful of the words you use when you talk about yourself. Words have resonance and thinking carefully about how we think and speak about ourselves is one of the most powerful things you can do to begin your journey to head over heels self love. There is much more I can say on this and I will at another time.

So; self love, self care and a strong sense of self is my suggestion for starting to live a “selfish” life. Once you have filled your cup and it is overflowing with nourishment, love, juiciness and flooding the whole space around you, then you can help others. But no matter what, always fill your own cup first!

I wish you a nourishing and selfish year, just for YOU! ❤


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