When Being Selfish Is HEALTHY

Aug 17, 2020
selfish is healthy

We frequently have conversations with our students and clients about how it is NOT selfish to take care of yourself....but what if it actually IS selfish? What if it is something called healthy selfishness?

I came across this concept in a book I have been reading. The book is called "Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization," and it is a modern-day revision of Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs. It is FASCINATING if you apply it to self-care

This book distinguishes between UNhealthy selfishness (which is rooted in greed, poverty, and neuroticism) and HEALTHY selfishness (which is rooted in abundance, the motivation to grow and be happy). It's actually a form of psychological strength and resilience!


Healthy Selfishness = Self-Love

It argues that healthy selfishness is one factor that allows people to self-actualize and that healthy selfishness actually stems from healthy self-love.

Think about that! It all makes sense! When we love someone, we want them to be happy, and we do things to help support that happiness.

If we love ourselves, we should want ourselves to be happy and do things to help support our own happiness!

What if, rather than allowing "selfishness" to be the excuse for why we don't practice self-care, instead, we made it the reason why we NEED TO PRACTICE self-care?! 


What's your level of healthy selfishness?

They included the items from a healthy selfishness scale, and I want to share them with you so that you can see just how ground-breaking this topic is. (For more detailed results on how you measure up, take the quiz here.)

How well does each of these statements describe you?

  • I have healthy boundaries.
  • I have a lot of self-care.
  • I have a healthy dose of self-respect and don't let people take advantage of me.
  • I balance my own needs with the needs of others.
  • I advocate for my own needs.
  • I have a healthy form of selfishness (e.g., meditation, eating healthy, exercising, etc.) that does not hurt others.
  • Even though I give a lot to others, I know when to recharge.
  • I give myself permission to enjoy myself, even if it doesn't necessarily help others.
  • I take good care of myself.
  • I prioritize my own personal projects over the demands of others. 


Healthy Selfishness in Action

Understanding something at a conceptual level and putting it into practice in your life are 2 entirely different things. Before you head off into your week, I want to give you a few tips to think about in order to cultivate your own level of healthy selfishness.


TIP #1: Ask yourself what you need...THEN DO IT

It's incredible what happens if you take just a moment to stop, scan your body and your mind, and ask yourself what you need. Said another way, what could make you feel even better in this moment? 

Maybe you need a glass of water. Or 5 deep breaths. Or something to eat. Or a quick, brisk walk. Or simply to use the bathroom.

This week, twice per day, I challenge you to intentionally ask yourself what you need. And then go out of your way to fulfill that need.


TIP #2: Allow someone else to take charge

So many of us are the type who is used to taking charge or taking responsibility. We quickly spot issues around us that need to be resolved, and we fix them. Immediately.

This week, at least once, PAUSE. Allow someone else to step in. You're not in this alone. Allow someone else to take some responsibility, and let yourself relax as they do so.


TIP #3: Say no

Be honest. When someone asks you to do something for them, is your immediate reaction to always say yes? How much free time does that leave you with? Do you ever resent having to follow through on those "yes's?"

Just once this week, say no to a request or demand from someone else. Not only will this help give you the space you need to prioritize your own personal projects, but it'll be good practice at setting healthy boundaries.

Need some help? We recently did an entire podcast episode on boundaries. Give it a listen to help give you the tools and confidence you need to say no this week. 


Go love yourself!

Self-care is a necessity. It supports you as the asset you are. You deserve to be loved and taken care of, just like everyone else around you. Love on yourself and take care of yourself this week! 

For help creating a stellar self-care routine, tailor-made just for you, check out our Self-care [by Design] mini-course.


"When you say 'yes' to others, make sure you are not saying 'no' to yourself."
- Paolo Coelho


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