Self-Love: Learning to Be Selfish

One thing I’ve always especially enjoyed is how many people feel they’re able to talk to me, to open up about any and everything with me, get my opinion, or ask for advice. It means a lot to me that others for some reason or another trust me or value my thoughts enough to apply them to their own lives. But there have been several conversations I’ve had more than a handful of times with various different people, and because those are so evidently common, I figured it’d be a good place to start a series of blog posts for those that may not talk to me on such a personal level, but could use these ideologies all the same. Today, to kick off this series, I’ll be delving into the topic I’ve gone over more times than I wish I had to: self-love and being selfish.

Somewhere along the way in this world, the word “selfish” became a bad one. And in many aspects, I can agree with this constellation to a degree – narcissism is damaging and not a desirable or enjoyable feature in anyone. However, because of this negative connotation, self-love – which is a vital tool to have in our personal arsenals – is often confused with conceit, making it also a “bad” thing by association. Self-love is not indulgent or arrogant. In recent years, I’ve made the personal decision to take back the term “selfish”, or at the very least add to it’s previous definition; for me, it is no longer solely used as an insult or to describe a shortcoming, but it instead can be used to outline healthy boundaries within ourselves, too.

Because, like everything else in life, there is a time and place to be selfish for your best interest, too. Now before we go any further, allow me to make one thing abundantly clear: Self-love itself is not selfish; at least, not the selfish you thought you knew. It isn’t a negative thing – in fact, it’s healthy. I often find that the relationship most struggle to invest in (which is also what I believe to be a major factor in why people find themselves in toxic relationships elsewhere in life, but that’s another topic for another post) is the one with themselves. We’ve become a society that is primarily focused on the needs of the masses far above the needs of the individual. Which in many regards is an absolutely wonderful thing! But an individual that hates themselves but loves the rest of the world isn’t a win for anyone, either. We criticize our every move. We carry the weight of others’ actions (or lack thereof). We beat ourselves up over any and everything whenever the opportunity is presented. We allow everyone else to determine our value. We go through the motions just to get by and keep the peace. But we can do both – love ourselves and the world around us. And it’s high time that we do.

A few of the things you 100% can and should be selfish about:

  • Your time. Time is the most precious and finite thing we have to offer. We’re only allotted so many days, months, and years on this planet and the end, whenever that may be, is just that – the end. No do overs, no take backs, no changing it. All too often, because we assume our time will simply go on forever (or at the very least, for years and years to come), we waste this valuable time tolerating things, behavior, and people that aren’t any good for us and that we, quite frankly, are better off without. Anyone who knows me knows that I am an advocate for seeing the best in others – to a point. Eventually when you find yourself continuously pouring into a situation that not only yields no positive results, but squanders your life away in the process, you have to come to terms and cut your losses – take back your life and don’t allow any more of it to be written off as a waste at the hands of another that doesn’t value it, either.
  • Your energy. Our energy goes hand-in-hand with our time. The ability to manage our energy in the million different directions we are dragged in every day is of the utmost importance. We’re expected to get degrees, find good paying jobs, get married, pay bills, raise children, keep up with the Joneses, work out, flourish in our relationships, entertain an abundant social life, and still find energy leftover to put into things we want to do, not simply what we “have” to. When you sit down and really reflect on just how many different things beg for our energy on a daily basis, you come to realize the unnecessary ones that don’t meet those qualifications. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t have the energy for pettiness. To argue. To prove myself. To beg for others’ approval. To tolerate repeated disrespect. To place myself at another’s disposal to be used and abused at will. To worry about things beyond my control. I don’t have any energy to waste day-by-day to entertain anything that doesn’t benefit me or the world around me in any way – much less those that hurt me or anyone else. Wish the rest the best, but reserve your energy for those things that matter to you and make your life worth living.
  • Your personal wellbeing. Because we live in a day and age where we are often put on our own back burners, “we” are the last ones to be tended to and our own needs are placed in the furthest corner of our mind. But as the saying goes “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, we must remember to take care of ourselves, too. Physically, mentally, and emotionally – we cannot expect to be a positive force to those around us if our own needs are blatantly ignored. Self-care is a strange concept for many to learn to incorporate into their lives, but it’s one that I firmly believe in and honestly find necessary. No one else is going to take quite as good of care of us as us, and we need to start acting on that.
  • Your self-worth. The idea of being your own biggest fan seems to teeter on the line of egotism, but hear me out. Something I see entirely too often is people who so extremely compromise in relationships of any kind – romantic, friendships, familial,  etc. – to the point that they allow themselves to be treated like garbage simply to keep the other party in their life. And that’s heartbreaking to witness. Now we’re human, and people are imperfect and have their faults, and relationships as a whole are learning experiences. But there isn’t another human being alive that is worth lowering your own personal standards for or exposing yourself to a life of inadequacy – and anyone that would require you to do so isn’t the kind of person worth keeping around in any capacity. Love yourself enough to know what it is you deserve out of this life in every way and refuse doing yourself the disservice of tolerating anything or anyone less.

These are just some of the things you’re more than welcome – in fact, you’re encouraged – to be selfish about in this lifetime. And the best part? You should not feel bad about any of it. It doesn’t make you a bad person. Don’t ever feel guilty for choosing yourself, and things in your best interest – if you don’t, how is anyone else supposed to? Self-love is loving yourself enough to remove anyone or anything that directly threatens your personal happiness and well-being. Self-love is taking care of yourself in addition to everyone and everything else, not in place of (except where necessary). Self-love isn’t a snub at the rest of the world, it’s remembering that you and your needs matter, too. Wish the very best to the rest and spread no ill will, but stand by your convictions. Being selfish doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, and appropriately applying it to your life in can change it completely.

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