4 Reasons Why Being Selfish Is Actually Good For You

Photo: Joshua Rawson-Harris
How To Be Happy By Being Selfish In A Good Way
Love, Self

Being selfish has a bad reputation, but if you want to know how to be happy in life, it's time for you to learn the benefits of selfishness.

Recently, I got some coaching from a very insightful, intelligent coach who has been working with people for 60 years. It was a life-changing experience.

One of the most deceptively simple, yet profound things he told me was to never, ever make anyone else number one.

"That spot should always be reserved for you," he said.

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He went on to say that people go around mistakenly thinking that they should put their partner first, but this leads to heartbreak and terrible relationships for several reasons.

The session was quickly over and I was left thinking about it for days afterward.

As I got to thinking about it, I realized that when we have relationship questions, the answer is almost never that you aren’t giving enough even though you often suspect that.

Most of the time, you’re actually giving too much to a relationship and wondering why it’s not working.

As simple an idea as it is to put yourself first — and I completely agree intellectually — I noticed my own personal resistance to actually doing it in my own relationships.

I’ve always used rationalizations like "Romance is being selfless toward someone else" or "If he’s happy, you’ll be happy" as I’ve made the choice countless times to put myself second, and it feels like crap.

I’ve bent over backward when the person I was with didn’t even ask for that — let alone actually want it. If you’re struggling with finding happiness and fulfilling with your life, maybe you’ve given yourself up too much as I have.

Here are 4 reasons to be selfish so you can take your power back and make yourself number one.

1. You hand other people’s responsibility for their own happiness back to them

Any relationship should only make up 25 percent of your happiness, at most.

Getting into the habit of changing to make other people happy only reinforces the mistaken idea that their source of happiness is external and teaches them that they should rely on you to make changes to suit them.

Now, making changes to suit someone else because you want to is one thing. But, going against what you really want and changing to make someone else happy becomes terribly problematic.

You can rip yourself apart in this way and when it’s all over, they won’t respect you more or want to be with you more.

You’re better off handing that personal responsibility right back to them even though it might seem hard or you might feel like you’re risking their disapproval. They’ll either accept your boundaries or they’ll leave you.

Either way, if you settle for changing for them, you’ll eventually twist yourself into a pretzel and neither of you will really end up any happier.

2. It's easier to help others after you've already helped yourself

No one wants to be called selfish. It takes us right back to being told to share when we were five years old. And, as adults, we should go to relationships to give.

However, you can’t give someone what you don’t have yourself.

If you aren’t caring for yourself first, you can’t care for anyone else. It’s a little bit like the warning on airplanes to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others. If you let yourself die, you’re not going to be much help to anyone else.

You’re actually making it possible to help others by putting yourself first. Happy people are selfish but in a healthy way.

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3. You avoid resentment

When you put yourself first, you remove the self-righteous tendency to become angry and resentful when you give too much or change to please someone else.

I think of this as "resentment-proofing" your relationship. If you give someone more than you’re willing to give for an extended period of time, you’re selling yourself out and you’re bound to deal with your own negative feelings about it sooner or later.

Putting themselves second is how people end up bottling everything up and then exploding later, saying that someone else didn’t appreciate them.

It shows that they were giving and/or changing to get their partner’s approval and when their partner didn’t provide that in exactly the way they wanted, kaboom.

If they had chosen to only give what they felt good giving, then they wouldn’t have this dormant, pent-up anger-reservoir volcano just waiting to explode.

4. You teach people how to treat you

When you don’t honor your own needs first, you run the risk of letting someone else walk all over you. Selling yourself out risks both of your respect for you and this is a very slippery slope.

People don’t get treated like crap when they have firm healthy boundaries and consistently honor their own needs. They get treated like crap when they whitewash what they really want and allow the other person to take advantage of them in little bits over time.

By the end of the relationship, they’re bent over backward and they don’t realize how it happened. Unfortunately, it happened because they allowed it to happen gradually.

So, if you see yourself in this, let’s make the decision together to make ourselves number one so we can have the healthy relationships we deserve.

I’m working on it and I know you will too.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Being Selfish In Your Relationship Is The Best Way To Make It Work

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Elizabeth Stone is an author, relationship coach, and founder of Attract The One. Is your man losing interest in you? Does your relationship feel stale and disconnected? Get to the bottom of it with your free copy of Why Men Lose Interest and free daily email series.

This article was originally published at Digital Romance Inc. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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