“Caring supremely or unduly for one’s self; regarding one’s own comfort, advantage, in disregard, or at the expense, of those of others.”
No wonder we don’t want to be considered selfish.
And yet I have clients who make the question, “Am I being selfish?” the key factor in making important life decisions.
When they think the answer is “yes,” they do things like:
- Stay in a job that’s stable and boring instead of pursuing a more stimulating role.
- Stay in an unhappy marriage because they don’t want to hurt their spouse.
- Go to medical school to please their parents when they’d rather study graphic design.
- Don’t take time to exercise or meditate or pursue a hobby.
They sacrifice what they really want to accommodate the needs of others.
And usually, it’s not coming from a place of joyful commitment, but as a response to societal conditioning that we need to please others first. (That’s why telling people “You’re being selfish” works so well as a shaming tactic.)
Just to be clear, I’m not saying we should be inconsiderate — grab the last piece of pizza! Or, that we shouldn’t be responsible or follow through on our commitments.
But when do you treat people better — when you feel alive and free, or trapped and miserable?
So what I am saying is, “Am I being selfish?” may not be the relevant question. Because really, who’s going to feel good about answering, “Yeah, but who cares?!”
What if, instead, we asked ourselves: what would make me feel the most alive?