I’m going to tell you something that may go against what people have been telling you your whole life.
Whether these people were your parents, older siblings, teachers, or even friends, what they may have told you is probably not what you’re going to hear from me.
And what I want to tell you is this;
You need to be more selfish.
But what does it mean to be selfish?
Well to be selfish is to be concerned primarily with one’s own benefit.
While it is obviously not good to do this all the time, it is important to do so when you need to devote time to working on yourself. Being selfish allows you to focus, and stops your attention from being divided between personal benefit and concern for others.
And the paradox here is that the more you are able to invest in yourself, the more you are able to grow, and the more you are able to help others.
In many situations, acting in your own self-interest can be good for your physical and mental health, it can mean that you are more likely to end up in leadership roles, and counterintuitively, it can improve your relationships.
Contrary to belief, setting firm boundaries with people can actually be beneficial, it is when you do something that your friend or family member doesn’t expect, that they will usually be disappointed or hurt.
If you are able to say no, they will adjust their expectations of you, and be happy and comfortable with your congruence and honesty.
Real selfishness takes courage, confidence, and knowledge of self.
How to know if you need to be more selfish?
- If you are trying to help someone else and it is distracting you from your own goals.
- If you are holding back from creating the business, product, or life that you want, because you’re worried about hurting someone else’s feelings.
- If you have people in your life that are emotionally draining you and stopping you from being the best version of yourself.
Here are 4 ways to be selfish the right way
Commit more time to self-education
Self -education and personal development is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
You may have commitments to others or they may expect you to do something with them or for them, but sometimes it’s better to invest your time and money in books and courses that are going to help you improve.
Take more opportunities to say no
So many of us are caught up in not wanting to rub others the wrong way that we end up saying yes to too many things that we don’t really want to do.
The truth is that you should be able to say no without fear and without guilt.
Every opportunity you get to authentically say ‘no’ is an opportunity to practice self- assertiveness. This doesn’t mean you have be aggressive, it just means you can be honest.
For example if your friend asks you to go out for a drink, and you know you have work to finish – where you would usually try and rush the work to go out with your friend you can gently say “no not this time sorry, I really have too much work to do.”
Spend less time calling and texting friends
Americans spend on average 4.7 hours a day on their phones.
The vast majority of this time is spent unnecessarily. Unfortunately, because almost everyone has the same habit, when you want to step away from social media, phone calls and group chats, it can feel isolating and even come across as offensive to your friends.
Again, this is another instance whereby it pays to be selfish. Cut out the time calling and texting people and you’ll have a richer experience when you are with them face to face.
You’ll also end up with more time in your day to do what you want to do.
Every once in a while be intentionally lazy
In our society it can be easy to get caught up in wanting to make every moment productive. However, it’s not healthy to be switched on and working all the time. It can be good for your body and mind to take a day to recharge, lie in bed for most of the day and watch movies guilt free.
This could also be just going out in nature or to the beach by yourself or with friends and just laying down, reading a book, or taking a nap. Remember that you don’t always need to be ‘achieving’ something.
To be selfish isn’t always a bad thing. Looking after yourself is about having strict boundaries, try and start by incorporating some of the above tips into your life.
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Ben is a freelance writer, and the co-creator of Project Monkey Mind—a new blog for the 21st century solopreneur and young professional who wants to lead a more free and fulfilling life.