I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I’m out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.
Why Being Selfish is Good
In 350 BC Aristole asked whom man should love more – Himself or others. Which one will bring about the most happiness? Aristotle deduced that man should love himself for if you cannot love yourself first you cannot love others. A few centuries later if you asked the Buddha the same question he would claim that there is no self, to love. The self is just an illusion and so it is best to love others.
Sigmund Freud then argued that in order to build healthy relationships with others a person must fall in love with themselves. He theorized that when we are born we fall in love with ourselves after witnessing all the incredible things we are able to do. However, humans are eventually driven by aggressive sexual instincts and this self-love gets lost. I would also like to add that society has a large role in this as well.
So which is it? Should we be selfish or selfless? Which is better for happiness? The truth is that it isn’t a choose one or the other sort of deal. Both have benefits. I would imagine this as a scale. On the left side of the scale we have the most selfless person. Zero selfishness. On the other side we have narcissism; an obsession with oneself.
Imagine the most selfless person ever. This is a zero on the scale. No selfishness. This person puts everybody’s needs ahead of his own. They don’t need or want to feel special. This person doesn’t want anything, just gives everything away. This seems like a great thing to have – Such a generous characteristic but if you are a person who is completely selfless like this; irrationally selfless, then you wouldn’t feel like you deserve any love or care from others. This is not a happy life. You cannot just put everybody’s needs before your own. It is one thing to be generous but it’s another thing to be a doormat for others.
At the other end of the spectrum we have pure narcissistic selfishness. I don’t think I need to go into depth on how this is bad. These people push everyone away because of their inability to connect with others. These people are so full of themselves and think that they are so important that they lash out when others don’t see it. They need this constant validation of being important.
So what you want to do is end up somewhere in the middle. Being a 1-3 or a 7-9 isn’t that great either. You want to be between a 4-6 where 5 is gold. You want to care about yourself enough to drive you to do the things that will make you happy. You want to be selfish enough to know you are better than everyone else but not so much better than everyone that you don’t even listen to their advice. That is where the scale tips above the 5. Where you think you are so special and great that everyone else should think so to. And if they don’t they are just dead wrong.
Is Moderation Attainable?
So how do you obtain the moderation? How do you obtain this 5 on the scale I just mentioned? The best way is to look at the signs in yourself. These will be signs of general selfish and even narcissistic behavior. If you see these signs in yourself then you know you are more towards that ten side and you need to have a reality check that you ain’t so special!
There are two signs. The first sign is criticism. People who are selfish tend to be very full of themselves. These kinds of people don’t like to be criticized. How do you feel when you are criticized? Do you get upset? When I mean criticize I mean constructive criticism something where the other person is just trying to help you. Are you unable to take the criticism to heart and think about your flaws? When you are high on this scale you tend to seek validation and get upset when people give you the opposite.
The second sign is what do you do when you are upset? Do you try to make other people feel upset as well? This could also be a red flag. The higher you are on the scale the more you try to get others to experience the same feeling you are experiencing. For example, if someone gets angry they might insist that you are the one who is constantly angry. They can’t seem to bear the fact that they are the ones losing control.
If you seem to radiate or know someone who is similar to the person described above you may want to take a good hard look at yourself and try to tone it down a little bit. Start to catch yourself in these situations where you are being completely selfish, emotional and irrational. You have to be honest with yourself here. Don’t just brush this off and say “Oh I’m more of a 4 on this scale – There’s no way I’m a 8 or a 9!” Demonstrating such narcissistic behavior tells me that you should take that 4 and add 3 to it. Really start to pay attention to your actions. They can tell you a lot about yourself.
Have a great day!
Where are you on the scale? Do you know somebody who is a complete narcissist? Are you? Let me know in the comments below!