Selfishness is generally not considered to be a great quality in a person. In fact you'll find that most people are in agreement that its a pretty bad one.
However, there are times in your life when you have to be selfish and it's almost recommended in certain situations.
I wonder how many people reading this can identify with this statement : "I put everyone else first. As long as they're ok then that's all that's important."
A parent talking in relation to their family is highly likely to say something along those lines, and that's just fine. There's nothing wrong with looking out for your spouse and kids, making sure they're all doing ok. And chances are that if they are ok then the person is too. Right?
Seems fair enough.
But what if you're not ok. What if putting everyone else ahead of you is taking it's toll? Everyone has needs in life and it's a fine balance between looking after your own needs and still ensuring the needs of others are met. It takes a lot of self-awareness to identify that something is lacking in your life and then it takes strength and determination to make sure you do something about it before it gets worse.
I believe that people are inherently good and that they do consider the feelings of others. Assuming this is the case then it's only natural that people find themselves sometimes living life in a way that maybe benefits others more than themselves. Again, this is ok as long as you are deriving some personal pleasure from the fact you are putting others first. That altruism can be all you need to feel good about yourself and therefore it works out that you are, in fact, putting others first for your own reward.
That is a healthy enough situation as long as a particular condition is satisfied within the whole dynamic - Namely, are these same people noticing when you need more and displaying the same altruism towards you? Basically, treat others the way you would want to be treated yourself.
Unfortunately, all too often, it doesn't work out that way.
A person can find themselves in a position where it's all a bit 'one-way'. They give and they give but very little comes back. Left unchecked, the person can start to feel undervalued and taken for granted. They may become frustrated with those around them and question whether anyone even cares about them. Does anyone even notice what's happening?
This is a dangerous road to head down and eventually something has to give.
This is where you have to be selfish.
You need to break that cycle of permanently giving up parts of yourself to others without restoring those parts and regenerating yourself.
For some people the solution is quite simple. Maybe a few hours in the week where they get to do things that help them relax. Read a book, meet up with friends or just go out for a walk and enjoy some fresh air and quiet.
For others it can take more drastic action. Maybe people have to be told to change the way they are, to help out more or be more considerate. Perhaps people need to hear a few 'home truths' about their behaviour.
Whether the solution is a simple one or something more complicated, the person has reached that point where something has to change and that requires a level of 'selfishness'. They have to basically say to the world around them and the people within it "I need to spend some time putting ME first. I have to be the centre of our universe for a short time. My needs have to be addressed".
Although it seems like a very alien thing to say, it is essential for your well-being that it is done.
Try to look a it this way...
The reason you even got into this position in the first place is because you care about these people in your life. You have been spending time making sure you do things and act in a way that makes them as happy as possible. It's important to you that these people have as good a life as they can have and you want to influence that as much as you're able.
However, in order for you to do that job to the best of your ability, you need to be at your best. It stands to reason that if you feel better in yourself then you're likely to treat those around you better. You must have had the experience where a friend is a bit abrupt with you or doesn't treat you as well as they normally would and it happened to coincide with a time when they had a problem going on or they were angry or anxious about something, Their mood was different and it translated into you being treated differently.
If you feel fantastic then it absolutely follows that you're going to transmit that into the way you treat others. You want to treat the important people brilliantly so you have to feel brilliant in the first place.
That selfish act of putting your needs first, even for a short time, is your way of saying "Look, I'm struggling to do my best for you all at the moment. Do me a favour, give me what I need for a while and you will all reap the rewards in the future."
Being selfish does not make you a selfish person. If you think about it, in the long run, it makes you a more considerate person.
When treated correctly it's win-win for you and everyone you care about.