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They Lied To You, Why You Need To Be Selfish

being selfish

Yes, you’ve been deceived.

All that talk about how you shouldn’t be selfish is rubbish.

As you grow up you’re taught all about how being selfish is a bad thing. How it won’t serve you and in fact would make you a bad person that no one wants to be around.

When you’re a kid playing at the park and another child comes over you should share your toys with them. The ideal thing to do is to let them play with your favorite GI Joe or Barbie doll.

Don’t be selfish. Let them have some fun too.

And when mom is baking cookies for later and asks you what kind to make, you say macadamia nut.

Then you have to endure an endless lecture about how she can’t make that because your kid sister is allergic to nuts.

What were you thinking? It’s not just about you. Don’t you think your kid sister wants some cookies too?

Mom can’t just make what you want.

Stop being selfish!

In these cases if you were to only think about yourself you would be wrong, and certainly selfish, in a bad way, but you have to know when it’s appropriate.

When you’re dealing with situations that directly involve other people, where they’re supposed to also get something from it, being selfish will land you in hot water.

However there will be times when it is completely necessary for your happiness and success.

To be honest with you, it’s probably the missing factor.

Game of Telephone

The whole idea of selfishness being this extremely negative characteristic is just a screwed up game of telephone.

You remember that game.

It’s where a bunch of people sit in a circle, or some other kind of somewhat organized order. Then the first person tells the second person something and they keep passing it on to the next person until it reaches the last one.

Then the last person says it aloud to the whole group to see if it’s the original message that was passed to the second person.

But by the time it gets to the end, it’s not. Not even remotely similar.

Kind of them same thing has happened here. Someone probably started out saying you shouldn’t be selfish all the time. And that turned into selfishness is the devil!

But it’s not, I assure you.

The whole thing has just been taken out of context.

See, the thing is when people say that being selfish is bad you can immediately tell they’re focused on the wrong side of it.

They’re thinking about all the times when you didn’t want to share your toys or let your sister ride your bike. And how you didn’t care if she couldn’t have cookies for dessert, how is her being allergic to nuts your problem?

Considering that, they’re right.

That is not the time to be selfish at all, your sister deserves cookies just as much as you do.

Believe it or not there is a good side, or benefits I should say, to being selfish. It’s not all gloomy clouds, fiery pits of hell or little siblings covered in hives.

It can actually be good for you and inspiring for those around you.

Let it in

Be selfish.

Let the feeling of selfishness wash over you. Take it all in.

It’s not bad. You might have reservations at first, wondering if you’re doing that right thing, not to worry. You are.

You just feel this way initially because of your preconceived notions of the whole selfishness thing.

It may take some getting used to but you should be unapologetically selfish, in a good way. You do this by focusing on your dreams.

No one else is going to have consideration for your dreams and goals so you have to do what you need to achieve them.

You have to be selfish for the sake of your future. It all depends on you.

You’re not going to be happy or successful unless you focus on what’s important to you. That means being selfish with your time and focus.

The good thing about being selfish is:

You’re first

Yup, it’s all about you.

It’s your life. To live it the way you want you have to be focused on what makes you happy and your idea of success.

And there’s no need to feel bad about this because it’s natural to take care of yourself first.

Think about the safety demonstrations conducted on an airplane before take-off. In the event the oxygen masks drop down from the ceiling you’re advised to place yours on before assisting others.

How helpful would you be in assisting your neighbor with their mask if you pass out mid task due to lack of air?

You’re no good to others if you’re in bad shape yourself.

Personal Development

In order to reach new heights you have to grow.

But that can be hard to do with you have a thousand and one obligations and no time to make changes and take action.

Being selfish allows for your personal development to happen. Instead of just talking about how you need to do this and that to be better. You’ll actually be making sure that you do it.

Growing and developing takes time, attention and effort to take place. And you don’t want to be the same person forever.

Yeah, you’ll have to miss a few nights out with friends but becoming a better version of yourself for the rest of your life is better a few hours out on the town.

Purposeful Existence

When you become more concerned with what is expected of you versus what you want, you end up working a job you hate and having meaningless relationships.

At some point that’s going to get old and you will feel empty and frustrated.

Selfishness enables you to provide the attention needed to make sure everything in your life has depth and meaning.

Things will go according to your plan when you take the time to devote to it.

You have to be focused on yourself and your desires to achieve something great. A purposeful life embodies that.


When you’re selfish you’re focused on yourself. That’s why selfish people are independent and successful.

They’re not waiting on someone else to provide them with what they need. Nope, they’re out there getting it themselves.

You don’t want to be in a position where you’re depending on others to take care of your needs or to make a move on your goals. Third parties shouldn’t dictate how you live your life.

Your life should be the result of your efforts, not the whims of others.


Yes, you will be happy. Stop thinking that you’ll be punished for focusing on yourself. You’ll actually be unhappy if you don’t.

Being selfish ensures that you do what’s important to you and what you enjoy. When you’re doing those things you become happier. And when you’re happy you’re productive, positive and resilient.

All the things you need to be to go after your dreams.


When you’re happy, independent, growing personally and living a meaningful life people are going to look at you differently. They’re going to admire the life you’ve created, wanting to duplicate it.

While being unselfish seems like a better bet think about it for a minute. Recall the most unselfish person that you know.

Do you think they’re happy? Do you think people respect them? Are they in complete control of their lives?

Nope they’re not. How could they be? Everyone else is treating them like doormats. No one cares about their feelings and ultimately their life.

Apparently not even them because if they did they’d know it’s time to be more selfish.

This is exactly what you don’t want to be. Why you need to be selfish.

Good Feelings

When you’re experiencing all of these benefits, how could you not feel good.

Taking care of yourself and making sure that your needs are met feels great. You feel like you’re on top of the world and wanting for nothing.

It’s a wonderful feeling when you’re making progress on your dreams, achieving your goals and are all around happy.


When you’re constantly being told that you shouldn’t be your sole focus it can be hard to even make yourself your primary focus. But you have to.

Just remember that if no one is focused on your needs and goals they can’t be met.

Being selfish isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s actually a contributing factor to your success and overall happiness.

Make sure your selfishness isn’t taken to the extreme, it’s all about moderation. The point of it is not to alienate people but to make sure that your needs are getting the right amount of attention.

You don’t want to become the most unselfish person you know, because that would be the worst thing in the world for your future.

Remember these benefits, which also benefit those around you (see it’s selfless to be selfish). Everyone wins.

Become a little more selfish.


And you…

Are you selfish enough?



About Lea

Lea is a certified life coach, foodie and lifehack expert. Don’t end up like the millions of people who gave up on their dreams, get unstuck and to the next level. Take the eye-opening Live Your Dreams course now to get moving!

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  • Hi Lea,

    I’ve been a doormat for a long time in my life. Being a Mum just prolonged the experience!

    Eventually it was one of my sons – well in fact, both of them – who told me it was about time I stopped being a doormat and stood up for some of the things I want in life.

    After all these years, I find it very difficult to change and often feel very guilty. But I’m working on scheduling some “me-time” into my life.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking perspective on being selfish.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

    • Lea

      Hi Joy,
      At least you had someone, or two people, to tell you it was time to change your ways. It can take a while to realize because focusing on yourself is often viewed in a bad light. But if you don’t have yourself together you’re useless to others. It all starts with you.

  • Hi Lea,

    I really wasn’t sure where you was going with this one!

    But it did have a happy ending!

    It was a really good reminder. I’m a mum of young children. When you have children or a dependant person you look after it can be really hard to ever put your own needs first.

    Their needs are greater than yours so even an extra 30 minutes in bed on a Sunday morning can create a feeling of guilt.

    I know I should listen to your article but it can be really difficult.

    I never follow through and do what’s good for me. I can’t always put in place a specific time and day for myself. What I’m starting to do is keep an eye out for the warning signs for when I’m getting stressed then I schedule in some relaxation time.


    • Lea

      Hi Naomi,

      When you have demanding priorites it can be hard to think about yourself. But like you said you have to do it eventually or you will get stressed and from there it only gets worse.

      Being selfish has a time and place, it doesn’t fit every situation all the time. You should throw everything to the side and focus solely on yourself 24/7. But you do need to realize that you are also a priority and put the time in, just like you do everything else.


  • Lea

    Hi Carol,

    I can so relate Carol. As a result of being the primary caretaker for my grandmother I neglected myself also. I was miserable and frustrated.

    Great point! A lot of people seem to think that because they have other priorites that they cannot make themselves one of them.

    Thanks Carol, much appreciated! Good day.


  • Hey Lea,

    Me and a friend of mind had this discussion about selfishness a couple of times. The funny thing that was pointed out to me by the one and only Abraham Hicks is that those that don’t want you to be selfish wants you to give in to their selfishness. This is quite contradictory.

    But yes, as you pointed out, selfishness isn’t always something negative. In order for you to be stable, you have to be selfish in some way, form or fashion so that you and everyone else can be happy. A great example of this was the example you gave about the oxygen masks before take off. You have to focus on yourself first before focusing on other people.

    Thanks for sharing Lea! Have a great weekend!

    • Lea

      Hey Sherman,

      That makes perfect sense. Abraham Hicks is wise. Typically the people who don’t understand your need to take care of yourself is because it goes against what they want you to do. They can be selfish but you can’t.

      Yes, I love the safety demonstration example. I think it’s so fitting. Glad you agree.

      Thanks for commenting. You enjoy the weekend also!


  • Junie

    Hi Lea,

    I love the spin you’ve put on this. It makes you think. And you’re right, if you don’t put yourself first, nobody else will do it for you.

    I used to put everyone first and myself last. I still do sometimes, but I’m getting better at saying no. Also, by not being selfish, my dreams or goals never materialised because I was too busy helping others instead of myself.

    Thanks for sharing this post. It’s really useful. πŸ™‚

    • Lea

      Hi June,

      Nope, no one else will. It’s natural to think of yourself first, but of course best done in moderation.

      I can relate, I did the same. I thought it was for the best at the time but later came to realize that it contributed to my unhappiness since it was overkill.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, much appreciated. πŸ™‚


  • mark newsome

    You really put things in the proper perspective Lea!

    And I love your comparison between the safety demonstrations on an airplane!

    What you shared is right on the money!I

    think most reasonable people know
    where to draw the line between strictly thinking of self and what we all need to do, in order to achieve personal growth!

    And like you pointed out, if you don’t take care of yourself first!

    How can you possibly help someone else do so? Great post lea! And you really shared and made an extremely important point!

    • Lea

      Thanks Mark.

      I think that comparison was probably the best way to illustrate it.

      Thanks again Mark. I appreciate it!


  • Hey Lea,

    Boy do I ever agree with you about this one. I was told that pretty much all my life too.

    Over time I eventually would tell people that I’m a very selfish person because I believe if we don’t take care of ourselves first and be happy then how will we ever be able to help others right!

    Of course this is totally different then being selfish and mean. I think though that the way we were brought up was intentionally taught to us in that way but I can see where maybe some people would take it to the extreme.

    I’m so glad you brought this topic up and now I don’t feel so bad. I use to feel a little guilty when I would tell someone that but I just learned that I can’t help others until I’ve helped myself first.


    • Lea

      Hey Adrienne,

      so right! You’re useless to other if you’re not doing well yourself.

      For a lot of people I think they just look at it one way, as being selfish and mean. Without considering there might be times when it is appropriate and necessary.

      Glad to help πŸ™‚ Sometimes you just have to make sure you’re good first. When there’s not much you can do for yourself, there’s nothing that you can do for anyone else.


  • Hey Lea

    Great Post I think It is our true nature to think about ourselves because no one is going to do the thinking for us.

    I am a strong believer that if we will think for ourselves and help ourselves first then only we can help other and society. It is totally fine to think first for us.

    Thank you for such an awesome post!!!!

    • Lea

      Hey Yash,

      Thank you. Yes, that’s exactly why you have to. You have to be part of your priorities. Your well-being is ultimately up to you.

      That’s a great belief, it is the honest truth. Yes, we shouldn’t feel bad about it.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Yash!!


  • Hi Lea,

    I had to learn how to be selfish a long time ago. Yes, the scenario in the beginning of this post sure resonated with me. We are all taught that selfish is a bad thing.

    But, there is a strong difference between selfish behavior versus narcissistic behavior. That’s where I think it gets all twisted up. A narcissist has the behavior whereby everything is revolved around him/her and cannot be empathetic.

    A selfish behavior is quite different. We need to be selfish in order to ever help another person. If we don’t take care of our Self, then what good are we? We do need to be selfish in order to be happy. To be able to do the things that we want to do. Once reaching that level, we are able to help others.


    • Lea

      Hi Donna,

      Yes, we are taught that it’s a bad thing. And that’s pretty much all that we hear about it.

      Yessss! Good point. Thanks for explaining.

      We are not good at all. You can’t help another when you’re down and out. Taking care of yourself puts you in a position to help others. And being selfish can help you to achieve that.

      Thanks for the additional clarification. You’re a gem!


  • Hi Lea,

    Great job with this post! Although the way that you started it kept me a bit in suspense and I wanted to know where exactly you were going with it πŸ™‚
    Later on it took a twist where you began to articulate the ”positive” sides to being selfish. πŸ™‚

    So I began to buy in to the idea that being selfish is not that bad after all – while it is a double edged sword, one just have to know when it is ”spiritually correct” to be selfish and when you should really share with others such as in the examples you referred to.

    I understand Harleena’s question and think it’s a valid question asking about how can one be selfish in pursuing their own needs, especially with young children,

    For me personally, I can see where selfishness comes in when in pursuit of your dreams etc. Perhaps not even selfishness but more like making the sacrifice to withdraw from certain situations [even people] so that you can have the time to focus on the things that matters to you the most.

    Overall, it’s a very interesting post. Le’s hear what others have to say. Have a great rest of the week.

    • Lea

      Hi Yvonne,

      Thank you! Sorry about that lol, just wanted to paint a picture of where the idea of selfishness being a bad thing comes from.

      It certainly is a double edged sword. You have to identify when it’s appropriate and when it isn’t at all.

      That’s exactly what I mean. Withdrawing from others requires some selfishness, especially seen from their perspective, because you cannot give your time to everyone. And sometimes people can try to make you feel bad when you don’t want to do what they want. I think that’s where its not sacrifice but selfishness cause its not like you’re completely deserting them, just taking more time for your personal persuits.

      Thanks, hope you found a way to enjoy the suspense πŸ™‚ Have a good rest of the week.


  • Hi Lea,

    It’s really interesting post, indeed!

    There are many people who say that the selfish is bad, but you bring selfishness in a different way. And yes, there are many good things in selfishness, if it is in the right place. πŸ™‚

    I agree that there is a good selfishness in people who are pursuing their dreams. If they are not selfish and listening to every said of people, I’m sure they will not achieve their dreams. Because almost all of the comments they receive will surely make them go down.

    So, you call the game with “Game of Telephone.” I know that game, but we call it the “chain of words” πŸ˜€

    Thanks for sharing this.
    Have a great week ahead!


    • Lea

      Hi Nanda,

      Thank you!

      Exactly, especially with your time because a lot of people have no problem wasting it. But it’s you that ends up with the short stick when you run out of time.

      People who pursue their dreams are a prime example. It takes a lot to make things like that happen. I’m sure they couldn’t be as generous with their time as they’d like but one day when everything is said and done, they’ll be a greater help to everyone.

      Ha ha, interesting. I’ve never heard it by another name πŸ™‚

      I appreciate your comment. Enjoy the weekend!


  • Hi Lea,

    Interesting post indeed πŸ™‚

    Yes, it reminded me of the time we were kid’s and how selfishness does creep in, whether it’s with our siblings or peers, and sometimes with friend’s too. However, that has it’s own pros and cons.

    I wonder though as to how one can really be selfish to fulfill one’s own needs, especially if you are a mother or parent? Perhaps not possible, till your kid’s are grown up enough to be on their own. Speaking of myself, it’s always my kid’s or family who come before me or my needs, and it’s only now, once they are a little on their own, that I’ve started to take out a little time for myself – never had the time all these years.

    So, perhaps it depends on the situation too, though you are right that if you are selfish and cater to your own needs, you’re the happiest. But again, it would work for only a few lot, and not those who think more about others or do for them or put their needs before their own. I guess it should all be done within moderation, isn’t it? Just my two cents πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead πŸ™‚

    • Lea

      Hi Harleena,

      Thanks πŸ™‚

      It does, yet typically you don’t learn that it can be two sided like that until you’re way on the other side of the spectrum.

      Um, I think in the case of parents I think it has to do with establishing your priorities first. Obviously your family would be a priority. So it would fit more so around that. Like when other people want to take up the only free time that you have. That’s when you need to be a bit selfish and focus on yourself.

      I think it works for many but it has to be applied correctly. The wrong kind of selfish is when you’re so self-centered that you never consider others and you’re just out for yourself. The good kind of selfish is geared more to outside of your priorities. Making sure that you are taken care of along with everything else that is important.

      Being selfish means focusing on your needs and goals and becoming happy. That actually impacts more that just you.

      Yes, moderation is certainly key! Too much selfishness turns you into the greedy little kid that doesn’t want to share. No one aspires to that.

      Thanks for your feedback. Enjoy the upcoming weekend. πŸ™‚


  • Rachel

    Hey Lea,

    I have always believed you have to take care of you first because if you are ill then you wont be helping anyone. I must say the cookie story bought up a few memories. I was a very greedy kid. I did not want to share my lollies or toys and I was told to stop.

    I have always been on a learning curve, where most people have underestimated me. When I learning anger, I have to try a few strategies before I know which one best works for me. Now this one took several years and in those years people thought I was an easy target or a door mat, all the while all i was doing was learning. Because of their behaviour there was no choice but to part ways, and that was a decision I made, certainly not selfish, but taking my own back and refusing bad behaviour just because people thought they could get away with it.

    Now I am following my own path and I could not be happier like you said. But that too does not come with it own tug of war. But I give myself helps of time to reflect and develop. I now am soft on the ‘me’ approach.

    And saying no to a night out, reaps its own rewards however that takes a little getting used to because you know what you demon mates are up to. But I am now used to it and would not have it any other way.

    I agree with you that personal development takes time, persistance and energy – but how wonderful when you unravel yourself. It is like a gift that keeps on giving. I am now able to assist others with growth because I am at my full capacity and I have tools not to have my energy zapped from others. I enjoyed reading your post. Talk soon.

    • Lea

      Hey Rachel,

      Exactly what I mean. You have to be well in order to help someone else get to the same place.

      See that’s how it starts. You’re a little to selfish about one thing but no one every tells you when it’s appropriate. You usually learn the hard way, after taking care of others too much and yourself not at all.

      Sometimes you do have to shed the people who are not supportive of you. The people around you should stand with you, not target you.

      Yeah, learning to stay in to focus on what’s important to you is an adjustment. But I’m glad you are reaping the rewards, as am I.

      It’s is the gift that keeps on giving. And it’s so funny how you can unravel yourself in such a way, yet still be stronger for it.

      Glad you enjoyed my post. I’m happy you shared your thoughts.


  • Hi Lea

    An interesting article.

    You are the first I have seen so far that talks about selfishness in a cool way. I do agree that sometimes the concept of being selfish is really misunderstood.

    It will be crazy to focus on others when you have not achieved a level of development. It would be strange to believe you can make a difference when you don’t have any skill or experience.

    However, I believe that too much of everything is bad. Being selfish is like a double edge sword, It can benefit you or destroy. It all depends on how you use it.

    Thanks for sharing. Take Care.

    By the way. I am wondering if you got my mail recently. Thanks

    • Lea

      Hi Ikechi,

      I can understand, everyone tends to focus on the negative part of it. It really is misunderstood.

      Yes, you have to help yourself first. Like they say, charity begins at home.

      I have to agree, everything has it’s limits. Even the best of things can become too much when in excess. It’s all about learning when enough is enough.

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

      No, I haven’t gotten an mail from you. You can reach me via the contact page here or message me on Aha.