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A core aspect of elevating ourselves is learning healthy selfishness.

Healthy selfish is why we must put on our own oxygen masks first, before helping others.

In every situation, we can examine the following:

  • What can I do in response?
  • How can I learn from this?
  • What’s in this for me?
  • What do I want to happen?

Yes, this is self-centred for two good reasons.

  1. We cannot change others, but we can change ourselves. Focusing on how we can respond to and interpret a situation keeps the power to act with ourselves. Focusing on how others should change places the power and control outside of ourselves.
  2. The self is also the ultimate driver of actions. Thinking about possible options in relation to ourselves gives us actions we can actually take without being dependant on others.

Actions that are healthy-selfish have benefits:

  • Self-contexted learning makes the most sense and sinks in the deepest.
  • Self-motivated behavioral change is sustainable change.
  • Self-awareness drives the most transformative growth.
  • Self-relevant (internalised) goal are more achievable.

Most of us can tell the difference between healthy selfish and destructive selfish. And quite frankly, many, if not most of us, could learn to be more healthily selfish.

Healthy selfish is being OK with saying “No” to something that disadvantages us, such as: “No” to a collaboration which would have seen us do the bulk of the work for a lesser share of the returns; and “No” to wearing a misspelt name badge at a conference.

Healthy selfish is ensuring equitability in our relationships. My friend and psychologist Tracey McGrath calls this “balanced equation.” We work to make sure that all parties get something out of the engagement. We consciously check that transactions are mutually beneficial. In the long term, this keeps things fair and reduces the likelihood of resentments.

Healthy selfish is taking time for ourselves. So many of us are are so overworked and over-committed that we often put ourselves at the bottom of the list. We need to be selfish about setting aside time and resources to centre ourselves, reconnect with our dreams and goals, and work on overcoming unhelpful cognitive or behavioral patterns.

Have you been neglecting yourself? What is one simple thing you can do tonight just for yourself?

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