Many of us learned that selfishness is a bad thing. We were taught that it meant being more concerned with oneself than with the well-being of others, or even at the expense of others. This is indeed one type of selfishness, but I would like to suggest it's not the only type.
There is a second kind of selfishness that I call “loving-selfish”. Loving-selfish takes your self into consideration: what you need and want along side the needs and wants of others. Decisions are made from the view point that true giving comes from a willing heart.
Not all giving is good for others. When you are afraid to say no, when you feel saying no means you are selfish, you don’t take the time to think about the consequences of what you are doing. Sometimes no is a much more loving answer than yes.
Researchers at Duke University recently published a study that reinforces this concept. They tracked more than 1,100 members of the clergy in the United Methodist Church for two years, and basically found that teaching them how to say no improved their health in measurable ways.
The study operated on the premise that pastors feel great pressure to care for others non-stop, without taking time to care for themselves. This stress and the constant access to food at church meetings added up to a situation where 78 percent of pastors are considered overweight or obese. After 2 years of intervention where researchers showed pastors how they could care better for others by shoring up their own health, participants in the study lost weight, lowered their cholesterol, and lowered their blood pressure.
You don't have to be a member of the clergy to experience the benefits of saying no.
Benefits of Being Lovingly-Selfish
1. Lowers Resentment:
How many times have you said yes to doing something and resented it? As
you do the task, you feel anger and think about what you would rather be doing. As a young woman told me once, “I agree to do things when I don’t want to and then I act like an ass.”
2. Improves Relationships:
When you act from an internal place that asks the question, “What can I do and still be true to what I want and need?” you will begin to be a kinder, more giving person. When you do things for others, participate in events, or give your time, it will be done with an attitude of care. Our intentions, motives and feelings are telegraphed unconsciously to those to whom we are close. They will feel it.
3. Helps You Develop a Relationship of Love and Care with Yourself:
One of the leading causes of loneliness is not having a good relationship with yourself. In your quiet, alone moments, if you are filled with resentment and negative thoughts, you will feel alone, empty and like no one cares for you. No amount of doing for others will fill this place inside of you.
4. Leads to joyful giving:
Instead of giving because you have to, giving to others and to your self adds interest and excitement to your life. You being to do things you enjoy for others. When you need to do something you do not enjoy, you can take satisfaction in extending yourself, rather than feel resentment.
Selfishness that leads to happiness and better relationships takes courage. It means learning to love all of yourself, even the limited and unlovely parts. It means accepting the fact that you are the sum of all of who you are; lovely and unlovely will balance in the end.
Then it takes more courage to be honest about it to yourself and others. Loving-selfishness takes the ability to say no with love, kindness and respect. It is about caring for yourself so that you can care for others.
Want to know more about loving-shelflshness? I can help you. Call me at (919) 881-2001.