WOW Word-Of-the-Week #317: Selfish

August 24, 2010 by  

Selfish – caring only about yourself and your own needs.

Were you told as a child “don’t be selfish?” Do you know the difference between selfish and self centered? Does the word selfish create a positive or negative thought to you?

When I was young girl I remember my mother saying to me, “Nice Girls Don’t Do Things Like That.” At one of my speeches I changed the word Don’t to Do and created a new speech with that title. Then when I was giving that speech an audience member wanted to buy my book. Since I didn’t have that one, I started writing “Nice Girls Do…Things Like That.” My mother since died and I met the love of my life and it just wasn’t important any more. But I did get the first chapter done! I will be sharing excerpts that include personal stories from me and other women in the next several WOW’s.

Outdated Behavioral Belief #1: Nice Girls…Are Self-less (this applies to men too)

Selfish Sister

Several years ago, my sister (who worked for me at the time) and I were having what I thought was a discussion.  Since she’s seven years older, she believes she has the God-given right to tell me when I’m “wrong.” So exasperated because I wouldn’t give in and go along with what she wanted me to do, she let me have it with both barrels.

“Susan,” she said, “You are so selfish.” Without batting an eye, I replied, “Yes, I am. And I have been working on that the last few years.”   You can imagine her reaction.  Being selfish is supposed to be a “bad” thing.  I have learned, (the hard way, I might add,) being selfish is a good thing . . . on balance.  Let me explain.

Do you believe that it is okay to value your needs and rights, occasionally putting yourself first? I think so. Do you often shove your needs aside and honor other people’s priorities, at our own expense.  How can we possibly care for someone else if we never take care of ourselves? We are not meant to survive like that. Being selfish simply means taking responsibility for making sure your needs don’t get trampled.  Being selfish simply means you don’t allow yourself to be left out of the mix.  You can still serve others – however you make sure you are served in the process.  It’s keeping things equitable, instead of sacrificing your desires at another’s request.

This week I want you to think about what selfish means to you. When was the last time someone accused you of being selfish? Was it because you were not doing what they wanted you to? When was the last time you did something for you?

Reader Responses

“Write that book! Great excerpt. Hope your party was fun. Chicago was rewarding but sad…my mother in law has no more than a month left. She has been know as selfish…what a great gal!” – Lorna

“This subject brings up a lot of memories for me. My life turned around for me about ten years ago when I realized I’d been unhappy in a relationship for about 8 years. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with my partner; it’s just that I was trapped by her use of guilt and I felt responsible for her happiness. One of the more influential books on the subject I’ve read was written by Harry Browne, a former Libertarian presidential candidate. He writes ” When someone accuses you of being selfish, just remember that he’s upset only because you are’t doing what HE selfishly wants you to do.” The greatest gifts in life are given by the truly selfish. Keep up the good work. Hasta luego y mucho smoocho” – Bob

WOW!!  This one spoke to me this morning.  Thank you.  I think I might be a little selfish today!” – Sandra

“You’ve gone and done it AGAIN! I cannot believe you have not written that book. You have a wealth of talent gained from your career(s). I am sure you’ve heard that inside of everyone is a “book”! I have a feeling that inside you is an encyclopedia – a panacea. I have written a book about the Comer Family; it is in the final drafting stages and already tops more than 300 pages. For God’s sake! Do us all a favor and finish that book!  It may take your career in a whole new direction. And, you have fun writing.” – PC