Being occasionally selfish may be a good thing, such as when it involves gains in health, time, relationships and more.
Although many people consider selfishness a negative trait, they may want to take a more nuanced look at it. In some instances, selfishness can be for the betterment of others. In others, it’s simply a matter of looking out for only oneself. Whichever the case, selfishness often comes in many shades of grey.
Editors Note: This is a three-part series on what it means to be selfish. In part one, the author focuses on what being selfish means and when it may or may not be okay to be selfish. In part two, she focuses on recognizing if youre a selfish person. And in part three, the focus is on steps you can take to be less selfish and what you can gain by doing so.
How does “selfish” differ from “self-involved”, “self-absorbed”, “self-centered” and “taking care of one’s self?”
In part one of this series, we looked at definitions of “selfish”. These include a person lacking in consideration for others; being concerned with one’s own personal profit or pleasure; acting with disregard to others to gain advantage; and being devoted to or caring only for oneself. These are outward-facing characteristics.
Being self-involved, -absorbed and -centered is generally focused inwardly, with someone being lost in his or her own thoughts, experiences, emotions and interests. It doesn’t necessarily involve personal gain at others’ expense. Taking care of one’s self is generally seen as more transitory and about self-care and not personal gain.
Being considered “selfish” and acting “selfishly” are generally considered to be undesirable traits, although there are ways in which being selfish can be a good and appropriate choice. Frequently being considered or described as selfish does mean personal gain at the expense of others.
The Price of Selfishness
Being occasionally selfish may be a good thing, such as when it involves gains in health, time, relationships and more. But if you think you exhibit a pattern of selfishness, you might want to consider more deeply not only what a selfish life can gain, but also what it can cost.
The cost of selfishness can often be a loss of friendships and relationships, your health, your career and your own self-worth. Selfishness often leads down a never-ending trail of wanting more.