The art of being selfish to a healthy and balanced extent is a tricky one to perfect. How is one supposed to put themselves first… but someone also… put others first? Trust me, I wish I knew.
As an entirely unqualified life guru, I don’t have a perfect answer to this question, because frankly, I haven’t figured it out yet. The one thing that I know for sure is this: selfishness is important and it is healthy. Implementing a degree of selfishness into one’s life helps to ensure a start on the journey towards true self respect and prioritized self care. (And no, unfortunately a bubble bath, a face mask, and a glass of sangria will not cut it.)
Throughout this summer while I was working at an outdoor adventure camp, our boss would repeat a phrase about selfishness that really got me thinking about its importance. Despite the negative connotations that the word has, he would always say, “Be selfish first; if you aren’t prepared for the day, you can’t help other people be prepared.”
Obviously this example speaks about one’s physical preparedness for the day, but it can still be highly applicable to other situations in life.
If you aren’t prepared for an assignment, you can’t help others with their assignments.
If you do not love yourself, you cannot fully love another person.
If you are not taking care of your mental and emotional state, you cannot help others with theirs.
You get the point.
To be able to achieve the more advanced attribute of selflessness, one must first be selfish. You can absolutely find a way to put other people first in life, but only if that is first – after you. Selfishness must precede selflessness to allow the latter its full potential.
Let’s revisit the original problem – How is one supposed to put themselves first but someone also put others first?
I wish that I had this art perfected and could stop leaning too far to one side or the other, either turning a ‘me hour’ into a ‘me week’, or spending all my energy on trying to build and help others that I lose a sense of myself. However, I don’t. I struggle everyday with finding the balance. I hope that together we can work on finding that balance, especially by focusing on selfishness first, and selflessness second.
My sister, whom I love so much, has a tattoo that simply says “love yourself first.” It is a simple and beautiful message that I encourage us all to tattoo on our brains.
Love yourself first, take care of yourself first, and then lose yourself as you put others first.
Thanks for reading.
An entirely unqualified life guru,