Popular notion is that we should be selfless. Service and sacrifice are praised as the highest ideals, while putting our own needs ahead of others is considered shameful. The word selfish is never meant as anything other than an insult.
Yet, we cannot give others the best we have to offer if our own needs are not being met. If we give everything, we will be broken—or at least exhausted and demoralized. Just as we are instructed to put on our own oxygen masks before helping others, we have to take care of ourselves if we want to have something to give others. If we run ourselves ragged serving our bosses, our colleagues, our children, our spouses, and our friends, and we never take time to recharge, we will be, at best, depleted. At worst, we will be resentful.
We cannot give anyone our best unless we are feeling our best.
This is where embracing selfishness comes into play. Having enough self-interest to get your own needs met is the foundation of resilience. Tending to yourself and caring for yourself in good times and in bad gives you strength—strength you can use to care for others without sacrificing your own wellbeing.
Making your needs a priority in your own life helps you protect yourself from getting worn down or overwhelmed, especially when life gets challenging. So yes, this is selfish, but it is also selfless because when you are feeling strong and well cared for, you can better support the people who rely on you.
Imagine how you would feel if you cared for yourself the way you would care for the love of your life.
Your life would be infused with a profound sense of appreciation, happiness, and good will.
Maybe you could start treating yourself that way… Why not start today?