There was a time when the word “selfishness” was simply defined as concern with one’s own interests. Thinking about selfishness from this perspective, it seems like a very good thing to be and you could ask: If each of us are not supposed to be concerned with our own interests, who will or should be?
But what has happened over the years is the assumption that somehow to be focused on one’s own life makes one self-centered which is incorrectly too often interchanged with egotistical. To be self-centered is now judged as a reflection of our morals. Which then makes me ask if you are not centered in your own life, can you actually be of any help to another? Or, should we all just wait for someone else to save us?
I believe the idea of self-ishness has been maligned over the years. And, the irony is how often do we tell children “Focus on yourself” when they want to be like or have what another might have.
There’s lots of hypocrisy in this judgement cast upon self-ishness — including the assumption that someone’s selfish actions might not actually benefit many of us. Like here’s an example: Suppose you are a researcher who is consumed with finding a cure for cancer. Clearly if you were to succeed, a lot of people would potentially benefit from such years of self-ish focus. So, is this researcher selfish? Are they doing it all for their own glory? Or are they driven by a variety of factors — all of which make them appear to be single-minded to many, but quite likely not single-minded to themselves.
Here’s another example. If every day we believe we must exercise, are we being selfish? Or are we caring for ourselves. Who is hurt by this choice? Who is hurt if we don’t choose to take care of ourselves?
What about someone who speaks up and expresses boundaries? Suppose it’s “I don’t drink alcohol.” Could anyone actually label this person self-ish? Or are they caring for themselves and not setting a rule for others, but defining their personal policy?
The list of examples of what people are quick to call selfish is long. But before throwing out such a judgement, self-ishness as a concept is worthy of deep contemplation. I believe it is not likely that selfishness is wrong, but possibly ethical decisions underlying certain decisions could be suspect, but possibly not. Most likely what is wrong is the tendency to quickly cast moral judgement when possibly it would be better to focus on oneself.
Just some deep thoughts I woke up with. Irony is, I slept well!
I’m @DianGriesel aka @SilverDisobedience the author of The Silver Disobedience Playbook ✨ I’m a Perception Analyst who shares my Daily Meditations for other Ageless, Passionate & Curious People. Modeling info @Wilhelminamodels —other info in my bio & on my websites.