The Art of Selfishness

Achieving a harmonious balance between your work responsibilities and your personal life requires that you become selfish. That’s right, selfish. Stop frowning and wipe that look of disbelief from your face. Let’s look at this concept in more detail by examining the word “selfish” in more detail.

Selfish vs Self-ish

The reason you’re reading this article right now is because you don’t have work-life balance and you’re seeking answers to your dilemma. The other reason you don’t have the balance you desire is because, most likely, you continually put the needs of others before your own. Well, it’s time to stop. You need to learn how to become self-ish. And you need to start right now.

When I speak of selfishness, I’m not talking about the negative sense of the word -- about being concerned excessively with oneself, for one’s own advantage without regard to the well-being of others. This isn’t about living your life at the expense of others. Instead, I’m talking about self-ish – about being loving, kind and caring towards yourself.

It’s about honoring the commitments you make to yourself; it’s about taking care of you in all aspects – body, mind, and spirit. Without this attitude of self-care and nurturing, you are of no use to anyone – not to yourself and certainly not to others.

Harry Brown wrote in his book, “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World,” that if someone accuses you of being selfish, the reality is that they are only upset because you aren’t doing what they selfishly want you to do. Thomas J. Leonard, the late founder of the coaching movement, pointed out that this kind of selfishness is actually neediness in disguise.

By always taking care of the needs of others, you’re denying them the opportunity to be responsible for themselves and their own success. Essentially, you’re enabling their inability to take care of themselves – denying them opportunities to build self-confidence by taking on challenges and working through them.

Getting Started

So how do you stop giving in to the needs of others so that you can properly take care of yourself first? It all starts with making a commitment to yourself and then learning how to communicate your needs to others.

We all know about keeping commitments to others. We show up for meetings, we attend to the needs of our co-workers, our spouse and our children. We’re always there for everyone else. But, when it comes to ourselves, sometimes the follow through is not nearly so spectacular.

For example, if you planned a meeting with someone, would you fail to show up? Of course not. Then why do you do this to yourself? You need to turn this around. You need to take care of your needs and responsibilities first. Everyone has this same responsibility to themselves. It’s time that you keep your commitments to yourself so that you have the time, energy and other resources to help others when and how you can.

You might be thinking, “Well, that’s easier said than done. I can’t say ‘no’ to my boss, my spouse, and, certainly, never to my children.” Yes you can. And, it’s easier than you think.

Do you hate to say “no”? Don’t worry; you’ll never even need to utter that word. Thomas Leonard suggested that you start by never making promises. It’s all about developing a new way of communicating – one that doesn’t harm the relationship between you and others, but just as important, it doesn’t harm you and the commitments that you make to yourself.

Here are some example phrases you might try with your friends, colleagues, or family members:

• I’ll get back to you if I get a free moment.
• I’ll see, but I’m not making any promises.
• Let me think about it and get back to you.
• Do you have an appointment? No? I’m sorry, but I’m busy right now, but if you would like to make one … (a great response for those who interrupt your work day)
• I’ll come for lunch, but I can’t stay all afternoon.
• Let me see; I need to get this finished first.

None of these phrases demand that you say “no.” All gracious in their wording, you’ll never offend others and, at the same time, you don’t need to defend your other work and life responsibilities. You’ll be much happier with how you’re treating yourself and the positive feelings will certainly carry over to other parts of your life.

By being selfish, by keeping commitments to yourself and communicating with others in a way that keeps you responsible to you and your life, and others responsible for their outcomes, you automatically bring more balance into your daily life.

You’re living life on your own terms. By doing so, you’re serving your needs and requirements first so that you can actually be in a better position to help others. Unbelievable as this may seem, it’s actually a win-win situation for everyone when you start to learn how to be more selfish.

Think about what it would mean to you and your life happiness if you learned the art of selfishness. How will your attitude change once you learn to honor your commitments to yourself? How will you feel once you start to communicate in ways that are loving and caring towards yourself, and which empower others to take responsibility for their own needs? Make a commitment to try some of these suggestions. I’m sure you’ll be pleased with the results.

Author's Bio: 

Krissy Jackson is the founder of Laughing Kiwi Enterprises. She is a professional Personal and small business coach, speaker, and author. Her work with an international base of clientele is concentrated around the areas of personal and small business development. You can learn more about Krissy and her work at