In last week's article, I talked about selfishness, getting our needs met and how important that is to living a healthy, purposeful, fulfilling life. This week I'll go over the steps we need to take to make sure we are cultivating a healthy level of selfishness. Selfishness that maximizes the value of our interactions with others and at the same time keeps us from sacrificing ourselves to the needs of others.
Saying no...this is important because it is easy to create stress in our lives if we don't turn down requests for our time and talents. Saying no is one of those selfish acts that we should cultivate. It may be the most beneficial thing we can do for ourselves. When we say no, we will be able to spend quality time on those things that bring us happiness instead of stress.
Saying no helps us prioritize the things that are important to us. By saying no, we gain time that we can commit to the things we really want to do. Things like spending more quality time with our children, or getting together with friends for drinks and a night out. Let go of the things you feel obligated to do in favor of things you feel a desire to do. Just say, No, Nope, Nah!
Lower other people's expectations...people expect certain behaviors from us because we teach them to expect those behaviors. As Dr. Phil says, "we teach others how to treat us." As we become more aware of the virtues of selfishness, it is important that we learn to share with others what we need. For example, if your neighbor knocks on your door within minutes of you arriving home from work on a regular basis, it is important that you tell her you need time to wind down before having company. You need to lower the expectation that she has of you being available to meet her needs. If, in the past you have taught people that you don't value your own time, you must re-teach them to honor your time and that you will only give up your time and efforts if doing so fulfills you and your needs.
We all have certain obligations we attend to out of love and concern for others. Such obligations fill a need to care for and be there for those we love. The trick is to teach those who suck our time and energy out of us that we are no longer available to meet their expectations.
Tap off your tank...if you constantly feel like you are running on empty you may be giving past the point of something to give. Were you raised to believe that is it "better to give than receive?" If so, that is a belief that needs to be altered. If everyone one you know and everywhere you go someone needs something from you, you will soon be running on empty...thank you Jackson Browne! Being selfish means keeping our emotional tank topped off. If that tank becomes empty we don't feel satisfied with life — we feel discouraged, frustrated, and used up. In the future, if someone needs something from you, decide first whether giving what they need will mean taking away from your needs. Give when the act of giving replenishes any energy used in the process of giving.
I hope after reading this article you have a clearer picture of the virtues of selfishness. I hope you now realize that selfishness and caring for your own needs helps you be more giving and loving to others.
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