Selfishness is a word that gets a bad rep, it is being used in place of other things seen as ‘terrible’ but what really is it?
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Self – ish: Where one is focused on self. It’s like being “self-tending”, minding your own business, maintaining or tending to your own vibration.
So the literal meaning of the word does not inherently mean bad but the connotations of it is deemed bad, why?
It’s because the word has been attributed to both those who think of themselves, despite others’ opinions, and those who think of themselves at the expense of others.
The difference is this:
The former is putting their own wants first before others’ wants and their own needs before others’ needs.
The latter is either putting their own wants first before others’ needs or taking their wants or needs from others’ needs.
The former says, “I care about others and I care about myself too”.
The latter says, “I care about myself. I don’t know about others”.
To make this clear:
Needs – Important. Necessary. Vital. Essential.
Wants – Not really. The world won’t end if you don’t have it. No one would die if you don’t get it. You will probably forget it and pick up another ‘want’ after a few days or so.
When you put your needs before another’s needs , it is “self-ish” (read: self-care, self-protection, self-love, self-maintenance) because you need to put your own darn oxygen mask on before you help someone else, or else you may die trying to help someone else without your oxygen mask.
You have to get your own act together first before you can help someone else clean up their own. You have to fill up your cup first before you can have something to pour into someone else’s cup…You see where this is going?
When you take care of your own wants first before even considering someone else’s wants, it is “self-ish” (read: self-respect, self-acceptance, self-preservation).
When someone else’s wants trump your wants, it is most likely a need that you’re interpreting as a want because another’s wants can never trump yours. You may choose to take care of their wants first but it still doesn’t trump yours.
When you’ve taken care of you, then and only then can you have something to give another. Then and only then will you be genuinely at peace giving to another. Otherwise, you are following expectation, obligation, arbitrary responsibility, etc. You have not begun to be free and you are most likely suffering for it – physically, mentally or emotionally.
Yes, the world expects you to be un-self-ish (thinking less about yourself and more about others) to prove that you care. The world has confused the art of self-care and self-protection with narcissism, where you are taking away another’s freedom and happiness because it makes you feel good or is more convenient for you as opposed to protecting your own freedom and happiness regardless of who feels annoyed, offended or affected by it.
What the world does not seem to understand is that you can protect your own self and not want to take away from another at the same time. Caring for/about someone does not mean unplugging your own self-care. You can “serve” others while staying aware of your own fuel-gauge (read: boundaries, energy, needs). If it starts to deplete, your self is of top priority.
If you kill yourself or lose yourself in a bid to ‘serve’, life will still go on without you. There will be a way to carry on without you. So no one really needs you as much as you or they may think they do.
Having your own back and having the back of another is not mutually exclusive. In fact, one of the signs of one who has undergone an inner transformation is one who practices “self-ishness” and expects another to practice “self-ishness“. One who is self-ish and respects another’s self-ishness.
HAVING SAID THAT…
The word self-ish bears a mighty negative connotation and triggers those who believe people should be “of service” to others, at their own expense (read: being a servant or a slave), so we won’t use the word selfish to describe the positive meanings on this site anymore. It is only a word anyway.
Let’s find a word for it that is neutral or has not been given a negative attachment and one that encompasses all the self-everything that is good, needful, useful.
What is it?
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