3rd Group: Why It Is Your Right To Be Selfish

The Article: “Why It Is Your Right To Be Selfish”

The Main Quote: The word “selfish” creates conflicting emotions for women.”

The First Passage:

The word “selfish” creates conflicting emotions for women.  On one side, it feels good to just think of yourself and not have to always be “on” for other people.  Then there is the other side, the one that society has laid down regarding a women’s role – the side that says being selfish is not what we would ever want others to think about us.  It’s just not feminine.

The Concept: Examining the semantics of the word “selfish”, our understanding of it and using that understanding to change the word’s meaning so the connotation is neither positive nor negative.

A Subtopic Quote:

“Why are we so fearful of being thought of as selfish?”

The Second Passage:

Why are we so fearful of being thought of as selfish? Mainly because we have a distorted interpretation of what selfish looks like.  It’s an all-or-nothing syndrome.  We are either selfish or caring.  It’s time we stop being fearful of the word and instead see the possibilities where being selfish is the right solution to a problem.

Being honest about our needs and wants is important.  It’s in honesty that we add the most value to the people around us.  Resisting being selfish is dishonest and hinders having a true intimate relationship with yourself and others.

This week I did all the reading. The preceding is basically what the group went through. I read the first passage and asked everyone in turn what “selfishness” meant to them. I received some interesting answers.

The first woman I asked about selfishness told me about a Dr. Phil episode where he claimed to be very selfish. She went on to say that his wife also claimed the same thing. We talked about the difference between healthy selfishness and the kind of selfishness that doesn’t foster fairness and respect between people. Another woman interjected that the semantics of the word made it difficult for people to feel comfortable with it. She said that instead of selfishness it would be a big help to change the interpretation of the word.

Another woman brought up an analogy about pie. To simplify it she said: I see a pie. I want the whole pie. I tell myself I can have only a piece of the pie. It seemed to me that the point of the analogy was that you are looking to get as much as you can get but are limited by what realistically the situation allows. We are all selfish but if healthy we limit that selfishness. A term was used: Rational Selfishness. (It is from a book called Looking Out for #1 by Robert Ringer https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/551211.Looking_Out_for_1 )

The notion of relationships with a two way exchange was brought up when discussing being forthright about our needs with other people. “If we are honest with others they will be honest with us. If we are respectful of others they too will be respectful of us.”  Talking about these healthy elements within relationships to describe how our selfishness ( or personal care taking,) to preserve our own mental health is integral for feeling well became a main topic. I interjected that it would be nice if people were cooperative in this way but that I was sure everyone in this group knew someone who crossed our boundaries and had no problem insisting on their own needs. There was much rousing explanations and stories of people we could think of: family members, friends, acquaintances, lovers, different types of people we met in life or had no choice in dealing with.

The book  The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1098486.The_Center_Cannot_Hold was brought up when we discussed how some people we knew seemed to be naturally grounded or centered. I can relate to this as my own Mother who really had no interest in learning about psychiatric issues beyond understanding my own plight in the limited way that she felt she needed to deal with me, was very grounded and seemed to never question herself or the world. She never suffered from depression beyond the situational sadness that she had when her parents or pet died.

I asked one of the women I hadn’t gotten to yet if she had experience with dealing with a selfish person or if she felt the need to be selfish in her life. She was not very involved with the group up until that point. She became lively as she spoke of a person she was currently social with who she felt she was enabling through giving cigarettes and meals. She said that in the past she’d gotten away from unfair people. We talked of boundaries: “What you’re responsible for and what others are responsible for.” And how sometimes other people’s issues become much more important than our own.

Someone introduced another concept of the Universal Law Theme. This concept I was told embodies the idea that you need to hold your own in this world. Many personal stories were shared like abortion and and hospital as well as marriage and relationship situations. It was a passionate group and people were very involved.

A note: I try to take as many notes as I can but in a group where sharing is almost free form at times I find it challenging to write down all the concepts that are brought up. This is another good reason to follow each group up with a blog entry.
As part of the group sometimes we might think about the concepts and realize that we have more to say about our own experiences and thoughts. If you care to, and even if you’re not part of the physical group leave an answer to the following:

Have you found that you’ve encountered selfish people in your life? In what ways (negative, positive) did they exhibit these behaviors? Do you mindfully consider your actions when it comes to making sure your needs are met? What do you do when someone who seems limited in empathy pushes you to abandon your own choices to their own benefit? Keep in mind that being selfish can mean different things to different people.