Why Being Selfish Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

Health & Wellness

When you hear the word selfish, chances are your mind spirals into the negative zone. And for good reason. Over the years, selfish and its gang of synonym friends — you know, self-centered, self-seeking, self-involved, self-absorbed, the list could go on — have become enveloped in an unpleasant undertone that no one ever wants to be categorized as. But did you know being selfish sometimes can be a good thing?  

While this word usually isn’t the first to be thrown around as a compliment, psychologist experts have proven being selfish from time to time can actually make you into a healthier and happier person.

Organizational psychologist and bestselling author of Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World, Bob Rosen states: “When you take care of yourself first, you show up as a healthy, grounded person in life…If you can’t take of yourself, then you can’t care for others. Being selfish is critical.”

I don’t know about you, but when I first read this statement, my brows instantly became furrowed. But then, that puzzlement turned into an epiphany.

So often we run ourselves into the ground trying to please everyone around us to gain acceptance. But when you think about it, how can we be accepted by others if we haven’t taken the time to truly accept ourselves? Being selfish every now and then isn’t about radiating bad vibes or being egotistical. Instead, it can stem from the idea of prioritizing self-care and pursuing our own happiness.

The key to embracing the healthy side of selfishness — and not the inconsiderate side most of us associate the word with — is being self-focused instead of self-involved.

Being self-focused is not about putting our needs first to get ahead of others. Instead, it’s about prioritizing our needs so that we can open the door to happiness and create more meaningful connections with others. See, when we take ownership in making sure our personal, emotional, and physical needs are met, we are not only in a healthier state of mind, but we’re in a much better position to help others in need, too. Because let’s face it: how much use can we really be to anyone when we’re drained ourselves? As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

So the next time fear or guilt start creeping into your mind when you’re thinking of taking some time for yourself, remember this: It’s OK to be self-focused. It’s OK to listen to your body’s needs and indulge in self-care. In fact, this is essential to your own well-being.

Whether you’re yearning to cuddle up with that book you’ve been dying to read or want to waste a few hours getting sucked into the rabbit hole of Netflix, do it. Kick off those shoes and have that evening in you’ve been craving. Even if that means taking a rain-check with your friends or family, trust me, they will understand. And better yet, you might inspire them to do the same. Give yourself permission to press snooze for those extra minutes of sleep. Maybe even a few hours’ worth, if you’re lucky.  Furthermore, wipe your hands clean of the fast and frenzy, and trade it in for a slower everyday pace. It’s time to tap into resistance and learn to say no…and not feel guilty about it!

By refreshing your perspectives and shifting your focus inward, you will redefine your own self-worth by not having to seek approval or satisfaction of others. You will become healthier — mentally, physically, and emotionally — and have stronger, more authentic relationships with the people who matter most to you. And ultimately, you will unlock more happiness, and shed unnecessary stresses along the way.

So, ready for a little “me time”? Because that bubble bath is calling your name.

Image sources: 1 / 2 / 3

BY Kathryn - September 4, 2017

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I hate the negative connotations tied to being “selfish” – even the word itself sounds bad! But it’s actually good to have a balance of being selfless and selfish!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

September 4, 2017 3:37 pm

I love the statement you made about being self-focused over self-involved. Selfishness is definitely important sometimes; you absolutely need to care for yourself if you want to care for others to the fullest!

Mia | http://www.verymuchmia.com

September 4, 2017 4:28 pm

I absolutely love the vibe in this post! Sometimes, while we are caring for others, we forget ourselves. But since our needs are as worthy as the needs of others, we should always remember to take care of this body and mind, too.

xx Nisa Hilal | peonycrescent.com

September 5, 2017 12:58 am

I always thought that being selfish is mandatory for staying sane in this world! I think being self-centered and being selfish are two totally different things! Me-time, treating yourself and putting yourself on top of your priority list are very healthy and necessary things to do! I honestly feel for those who don’t get that (yet)!

September 5, 2017 1:54 am

This is such an important reminder. I’m notorious for overloading my to-do list and focusing on others before taking care of myself. Here’s to learning to be more selfish! xo

Fernanda Hernandez
September 6, 2017 10:24 am

Slowly but surely learning that I am #1 at this time of my life.

September 18, 2017 12:14 am

In my honest opinion, self-care is not a selfish act.


[…] 2. Why Being Selfish Isn’t Always a Bad Thing […]

[…] any possibility of working out. What we forget is how important even the slightest bit of self-care is for our mental, physical, and emotional […]

[…] any possibility of working out. What we forget is how important even the slightest bit of self-care is for our mental, physical, and emotional […]

September 5, 2022 8:28 am

Yes, it is fine to take a day off for your personally well being. What is not fine is being inconsiderate, uncommunicative towards those expecting an answer (when it takes five seconds), or just being rude for no reason.

As long as your definition of selfish doesn’t include behaviors falling into the latter category then you’re fine, and should continue moving forward as-is.

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Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.

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