What’s wrong with being selfish?
As a child, I was made to believe that being selfish was THE worst thing you could be. My mum would never let me get my own way, and always encouraged me to put other people’s wants and needs before mine. When I wanted to browse the jewellery shop, I was reminded of the two brothers and how bored they would be if I did that. When I wanted to sit in the front seat, I was told ‘absolutely not’, because it would be unfair on my friends (although, funnily enough, they always took the front seat when I was in their car).
I used to find the idea of always putting myself last incredibly frustrating. Honestly, I don’t think it helped my self esteem to constantly be told my desires were worth less than others, and before long I just stopped vocalising what I wanted and silently resigned myself to the figurative (and literal) back seat.
But…if there’s one lesson I wish I could teach my younger self, it’s that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being selfish. In fact, prioritising your wants and needs is incredibly important, especially when it comes to your self-esteem.
Getting what you want (and need)
It’s human nature to have wants and needs, and I honestly think ignoring them is a terrible idea. How many times have you left your stomach to rumble because your friend ‘doesn’t fancy stopping for lunch’? And, how many times have you taken the default position of just accepting the lesser of two options?
That always used to be me, and it really just left me feeling miserable. I was indirectly (and sometimes directly) putting myself in a mindset where I wasn’t worth the same as others around me. I didn’t value my wants and needs as much as I did theirs, and had no confidence in arguing for why I sometimes deserved the best.
Self-ISH vs. SELF-ish
If you’ve read You Do You by Sarah Knight, you’ll know what I’m referring to above (if you haven’t, get on it because it’s an amazing book!) Being selfish isn’t about just thinking of yourself with no concern or consideration for others. It’s also not about doing things that hurt other people just because it suits you better. It’s about looking after yourself, and not jeopardising your own wellbeing for the comfort of others. Which is why it’s referred to as being Self-ISH.
Valuing yourself in the same way you do others is a revelation, and now that I’ve focused on doing things for me (rather than the enjoyment and comfort for others) my self-esteem has only flourished and grown. I’m a far happier person, because I allow myself to do and have what I want, and in turn I think it makes me a far nicer person to be around.
Do you struggle to put yourself first? And are you working on being a little bit more selfish? Let me know!