Five Times It’s Okay to be Selfish

I’m a selfish person. I’ll admit it without shame.

Okay, probably a better way to say it is that I can be selfish or I have been selfish. And I’ve realized, that’s okay.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a good person with good intentions, but I’m also a single 26-year-old woman with no kids and no boyfriend or husband. My responsibilities pretty much are my own, and because of that I’ve learned that I can be a little selfish under certain circumstances, and you can too.

  1. For your mental and emotional well-being

Selfishness tends to get a bad rap -- and for a good reason. It's not always good. However, there are five instances in life when it's okay to be selfish.

The last two months have been an emotional rollercoaster for me. It felt like one thing after another kept popping up in my life and they weren’t good surprises. Unexpected bills, car troubles, health insurance, internet issues… oh, the list goes on.

It drained me. My heart hurt, my mind hurt – I was exhausted. So for the last few weeks, I’ve pulled away from people and kept to myself. I’ve gone on mini adventures alone, stayed in on Friday nights, and curled up with bottle(s) of wine.

And it’s exactly what I needed. Yes, a few of my friends noticed me pulling away but I don’t feel bad. I have and will always do what I need to do to make sure I’m mentally and emotionally healthy, so if that means I have to be a little selfish sometimes – it’s worth it. Because in the end, I have to live with myself the rest of my life and I want to be happy when I do that.

Take my advice. When you’re feeling down, depressed, or have serious anxieties – focus on yourself and don’t worry about the rest. If you have to ignore your job, your friends, and even your family to get yourself in a good place again – do so. Those who love you will ultimately understand.

  1. For your physical health

Years ago, I learned that I had cervical dysplasia – cells that ran the risk of becoming cancerous. Apparently, these cells had been growing on my cervix for years, getting worse and worse. After reflection, research, and speaking to my doctor, I learned that my body was having difficulty fighting off those abnormal cells for many reasons, one of which was significant stress.

It wasn’t hard to figure out what was causing me stress — a few people in my life. First, I made a big decision to get rid of one person in my life who had been causing me stress for years. I felt in my heart that if I didn’t let them go once and for all, well, it wasn’t going to end well for me.

Around the same time, another person in my life was dealing with some major issues in their life that were starting to involve me. I could feel that person’s issues beginning to affect my stress level significantly. I had to tell this person that I had to step back from their life and they from mine until I was better and they were better.

Though it didn’t feel great to be selfish in these situations, it was absolutely worth it. My cervical dysplasia got better when I let go of the stress in my life. The biggest lesson that I learned from this entire experience was that no one and nothing is worth your physical health.

  1. For your present and future

Selfishness tends to get a bad rap -- and for a good reason. It's not always good. However, there are five instances in life when it's okay to be selfish.

There’s one thing that every adult comes to understand quite quickly – you have to have a career to be able to financially support yourself and/or your family. Many people obtain jobs or careers in different ways,  but it usually involves some type of schooling whether it be college, a trade school, training, or a licensing class.

Now, for those individuals who are in school (of whatever sort), it might be difficult for them to put time and effort toward others while they are trying to work toward obtaining a degree or certification – and that’s okay! If you attend night school and can’t spend as much time with your children or partner because of it, don’t worry. It may appear selfish, but you have to do what’s best for you for your present and your future.

Here’s another example: You find yourself working extra hours at work so that you can gain a job promotion and additional pay. Because of your long work hours, you’ve had less time to pay attention to your significant other or were unable to attend your friend’s birthday dinner. Know that it’s okay to be selfish at this moment. Your career goals are just as important as anything else in life, so long as it brings you the satisfaction and financial security you need.

Yes, it’s good to remember that work or education shouldn’t consume your life, however, if your goal is there and you have a chance to go for it – go for it, because in that instance it’s absolutely okay to be selfish.

  1. For your family

A few years ago, one of my very good friends called me with horrible news – her husband had passed away in an unexpected and tragic accident. I was heartbroken for her and her son; they’d lost a father and a husband — a man who had literally given his life to save them.

The main reason my friend called me wasn’t to share the news, rather, she needed my help – she needed my selfishness. Her husband’s family wanted him to be sent to Mexico to be buried in the same city where his mother lived, even though my friend and her son lived in Oklahoma. His family was pressuring her on how to proceed with the funeral arrangements, arrangements that my friend did not want for her husband or her son.

So she asked me to help her be selfish, and I did. Though her husband’s mother and brothers had every right to their opinions about the funeral arrangements, I provided my friend with the support she needed to be strong in her convictions on how she wanted to plan her husband’s funeral. He was her husband, the father of her son, and thereby, she had to do what was best for her and her son – her husband’s immediate family – when it came to the funeral arrangements. And she did.

Though you may never have an experience such as this, there may come a time in which you have to be selfish for the good of your family. Will that mean making a difficult decision such as this? Perhaps. But you know what is best for your family and though you may be called selfish for your decisions, shake them off. If you can go to sleep at night without guilt and worries, then you absolutely did right by you and yours and that’s what matters in the end.

  1. When it benefits others

Selfishness tends to get a bad rap -- and for a good reason. It's not always good. However, there are five instances in life when it's okay to be selfish.

One of the most selfish things you can do is to help others. Yes, you read that right!

By being generous to others, it actually increases your own personal mental and physical health. Studies have shown that it reduces stress, can help fight depression, and even increase your lifespan. Researchers have learned that people are more likely to donate or give to others when they think it will make them feel better about themselves. Other “selfish” benefits to helping others includes: builds self-confidence, strengthens your relationships with others, and enhances your self-purpose.

So help yourself by helping others. It’s a win-win “selfish” situation for all.

Selfishness tends to get a bad rap -- and for a good reason. It's not always good. However, there are five instances in life when it's okay to be selfish.

Alex Temblador
Alex Temblador is the founder and editor-in-chief of Fempotential.com. She’s a full-time freelancer with dreams of being a full-time novelist and blogger.
Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador

Alex Temblador is the founder and editor-in-chief of Fempotential.com. She's a full-time freelancer with dreams of being a full-time novelist and blogger.

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