Selfishness is Okay

July 28, 2008 by Eunice Tan  
Published in Relationships

We have been taught that being selfish is wrong and it’s more noble to put others’ needs above our own. Is it always the case?

The famous author Jane Austen once said, “I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle.” I don’t know if Ms. Austen felt bad about being selfish or not. Personally I used to think that being selfish is a bad thing. If I think only of myself, if I ignore the rights and well-being of others, even, if I exploit others, then I will be in trouble. As the result I will have no friends who will show concern for my well-being.

We have been taught that being selfish is wrong and it’s more noble or important to put others’ needs above our own. I have some friends who are secretly rejoice if I face a mishap, even though I am always kind and treat them nicely. I cannot imagine how they will react if I show selfish act before their eyes. If I don’t care about them, may be if a tragedy befalls me, instead of feeling concerned, they will completely ignore me. So I always try to show compassion and have the interests of others in my mind. I have a lot of friends even though only some of them are true friends. When I face a tragedy, there will be plenty of people who will come to help me.

However I realize, in spite I like it or not, everyone (including me, my friends and everyone else) is selfish. We’d all like to think we’re not selfish but we are. Lately I think that being selfish isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, being selfish can actually be a good thing.

We also have been taught that “unselfishness” is the greatest expression of love, or the way to be in good relationship, as well as all the other aspects of our lives. We believe that ignoring another person’s feelings and desires or considering our own wants, needs or desires can threaten a good relationship.

But actually there are more aspects we may consider about. We can realize that EVERYTHING that we and every one else ever do, is done for selfish reasons. Even the desire to do something for someone else is always done for our own selfish reasons because what we do make us feel good in some way. We all are selfish, is it okay?

Many of us have been in situations where we really didn’t want to do something but felt we had no other choice. When we go ahead and do something we don’t want to do and our inner guidance is telling us not to do it, our heart is just not in it. When we agree to do something because we are fearful that the other person will be angry with us, be disappointed with us, or make our life difficult if we don’t, actually we are lying to ourselves and ignoring what’s truly inside us. We may feel resentful and like a victim or martyr in those moments, and the other person can feel this feeling.

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10 Responses to “Selfishness is Okay”
  1. Vardananda Says:

    I think you have placed your views rather well.

    I personally feel selfishness in me is not too bad if

    - I don’t intentionally and smartly exploit others for my personal gains

    - I don’t grab others’ rightful and lawful share of anything just to have my way

    - I reciprocate in some unselfish way at some point of time any unselfish favor done to me by anyone

    - I don’t possess and display obvious double standards in the matter of selfishness in me vs in others.


  2. Eunice Says:

    Thanks Vardananda. I agree with your adding points above. Usually I put myself in win-win solution in any situation. I have to do a good thing but I don’t want to feel hurt because of it.

  3. dm Says:

    good, eunice

  4. eunice Says:

    Thanks dm!

  5. Jane Holliday Says:

    Never related the subject to what jesus said your so right, thanks jane

  6. cleblanc Says:

    great article!

  7. Sharif Ishnin Says:

    Well written. Nicely done.

  8. Brewed Coffee Says:

    I think there should be a good balance between loving others and loving one’s self. We cannot give what we don’t have. I would like to call it loving one’s self in a good way, and not being selfish actually. :-)

  9. LCM Linda Says:

    Very thoughtful. As time passed by, I also start thinking that being selfish may not be a bad thing. I guess everything should be done in a modest way to maintain a certain kind of balance.

  10. neopisiva Says:

    Quite an interesting subject,I think selfishnes can be good at times, while in other situations it can hold you back…it is very important to know where to put the limits of selfishness and in which areas to use it.

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