Selfishness -- Not Always A Bad Thing.
From the time we were very young we’ve been told not to be selfish, to consider others before ourselves -- that type of thing. The dictionary defines ‘selfish’ as: being concerned excessively and exclusively with oneself – disregarding the well-being of others or concentrating on one’s own advantages and pleasures.
So, here I am saying that sometimes, being selfish is not such a bad thing. And what’s more, when you live life powerfully, and are helpful and considerate of others, you cannot be totally selfless.
The topic for the November newsletter is “Selfishness – Not Always A Bad Thing”
We live such busy lives. Our work, family, and social obligations take up a lot of time. In fact, with only 24 hrs in a day, trying to keep up with our to-do list can be a herculean task and there’s no time left for ourselves – the usual excuse --‘it’s not important anyway!!’
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) says “take care of #1”. Many people think that they mean be selfish, but not so. In AA language, taking care of yourself means not taking a drink. But in a broader sense, when you care of yourself, you’re more productive and more able to cope with people and situations that matter most to you. Isn’t that what all of us want?
We think we have no time. Not so – the less time we have, the more priorities have to be set – and here’s where you include yourself in the mix. If you really evaluate what you have to do, some things hold more weight than others. Keep your priorities in perspective.
It’s much easier to say “yes” then it is to say “no”. Everyone wants others to like them, and saying “no” can be interpreted as not being ‘nice’. We also may risk confrontation—“why not?” If you give in to pressure, you’re doing what the other person wants at your own expense.
Refusing is not that difficult. Here’s how to do it. If you’re declining an invitation, inform the person that you’re unable to attend and explain. You don’t have to make up an excuse. Tell the person that you’re overloaded or whatever the reason, but make a point of also saying that you’ll do it another time. It’s never necessary to lie. Explain how their request would affect you. That’s it, that’s all – no long winded story. There’s really nothing more you have to say.
If you’re a ‘caregiver’ or a ‘people pleaser’, saying ‘no’ and taking care of yourself will feel strange in the beginning. You’ll even feel guilty about doing it. It’s normal to feel this way, because you’re going against what you usually do. Keep practicing, and you’ll get used to it.
The more you do what’s right for yourself, you will not only have more peace of mind, but you’ll be more effective with other people and the things that matter the most to you.
Plan Healthy Eating
– this is the basic. Eat well and you’ll perform well.
Exercise– set a schedule and stick to it. There IS a mind and body connection
Prioritize --Know your limitations – you can’t do everything
Relax – make time when you’re stressed to get down time
Relationships – some people should be more of a priority than others
See the big picture – small things are overwhelming and bring stress
Get enough sleep
Pamper yourself – and don’t feel guilty – light candles, a hot bath etc.
Spirituality – this is personal -- don’t only focus on your external self.
Say how you feel – don’t keep your emotions bottled inside you
Make yourself a priority, along with everything and everyone else. It's not being selfish, to also take care of yourself.
Hi Bev, I’m so glad I found your site.
I'm 16 and my father, who was my best friend, passed away a month ago because of alcoholism. When I was 10, my parents split, and my dad moved back to his family in another town. I visited him on weekends, until his drinking became an issue.
When he was drunk, he’d text me nasty messages and it really annoyed me. So I’d changed my number and didn’t speak to him for months. Then, I’d feel guilty and text him to meet, but sometimes he would turn up drunk, which got me angry.
About 6 months before he died, we met for lunch and he was very thin. I feel like I’m to blame. I was the one who pushed him away, which only made his drinking worse. I feel like I let him down. I deeply regret not being there for him. I am devastated. I want this pain and guilt to go away. My Uncle and Grandma tell me it’s not my fault, but it is eating me up. What can I do?
Children of alcoholics/addicts have very mixed feelings about an addicted parent. The parent can be nasty, abusive, selfish and worse... but on the other hand, you know they’re not well. It’s frustrating and there’s nothing you can do, because the only person who can help an alcoholic is the alcoholic himself. Be assured that nothing you could have done or said, would have stopped him from drinking.
It’s normal to be angry in grief, so don't chastise yourself for that. But a child of an alcoholic has many emotions that have to be dealt with. Here is some information that may help you understand children of alcoholics:
Alcoholism is progressive, so his drinking would have gotten worse because he did nothing to get help. Dad knew that he was killing himself, but neither the medical profession nor anyone else could get him to stop.
There are ACOA programs for children of alcoholics. It might be helpful for you to join one. You'll understand that everyone there suffers guilt and anger -- even if the alcoholic parent is alive.
Remember, that as you loved your dad, he also loved you. He would not have wanted to hurt you in any way. Allow yourself to grieve, but keep the good memories of your dad in your heart. Be thankful for them. Many children only have bad memories of their alcoholic parent. You’re one of the lucky ones.
Don’t be hard on yourself. You will always love your dad, and there will be times that you’ll miss him, but the pain you feel today will subside as time goes on.
So sorry for your loss,
Surviving the Holidays – Happy times? Not always.
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