Selfish: (of a person, action, or motive) “lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.” This is the British definition of selfish according to Google).
The American version of the word in the Cambridge dictionary defines selfish as: “caring only about what you want or need without any thought for the needs or wishes of other people.”
I feel like ever since I was a child, anytime selfishness is spoken about it’s used in a negative context. Now, as I get older I wonder to myself is selfishness really such a bad thing? The opposite of selfish is selfless. Selflessness is defined as being: “concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own; unselfish.”
Contrary to selfishness, selflessness is usually praised as being a wonderful personality trait, I personally think it can be just as bad and destructive as selfishness. When people praise selflessness they conveniently leave out how a lot of selfless people are taken advantage of, or they fail to mention how a lot of selfless people don’t receive even a quarter of the effort that they put in back. I guess what I’m trying to say is constantly putting other people before yourself without it being reciprocated is just as bad and stupid as being selfish in my opinion. I strongly believe that allowing people to continually take advantage of you gets you absolutely nowhere.
Whilst, I can admit that being uncontrollably selfish all the time is definitely a HUGE character flaw. I don’t think it’s something we should completely run away and distance ourselves from.
Again a key part of the definition of selfishness is being “concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.” If we’re being honest with ourselves this will always be needed at certain points of in our lives. A lot of us do this already. There are situations where we have to put ourselves and our happiness first and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I would just like to add doesn’t the popular phrase “put yourself first” fit perfectly into the definition of selfishness?
I think sometimes we should be encouraged to be more selfish; especially women who are socialised to put everyone above themselves.
I genuinely think SELECTIVE selfishness can be a good thing and save us a lot of heartache. In the same way, I think Selfless can be a beautiful thing when used selectively. I think selflessness should be reserved for the people who genuinely care about us and we know will reciprocate it. Selflessness is a wonderful thing and shouldn’t be wasted on people who don’t deserve it.
So whilst selfishness can be a bad thing I think selectively selfishness can be a good thjng. Which I don’t think should be controversial at all.
I’ve mentioned this briefly already, but women especially African/black women are encouraged from a young age to put everyone above themselves. I feel like this as well as the “strong black woman” label (which I won't delve too deeply into, maybe another time) can be mentally detrimental. This is the reason why I love seeing black women putting themselves first. I remember when during the summer social media was flooded with all these videos of middle-aged West African mothers on girls trips together dancing and having fun, being carefree just living their best lives. Every single time I saw these videos I couldn't help but have a big smile on my face. It made me so happy to see them happy.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is selfishness is needed in certain situations especially when it comes to our overall happiness and well being. Yes, I’m aware that there are situations where selfishness shouldn’t occur at all. I hope I’ve articulated that well enough in this blog post.