Can Selfishness Be Good?
Updated: Jun 17, 2019
I have stated on more than one occasion that grander truth is always found within a paradox. I am not referring to beliefs when I say this, I am referring to a Universal Truth, or something that simply “is” regardless of what anyone choses to believe. I would like to share yet another example of this through the understanding of “Selfishness.”
When we think of selfishness, our conditioned mind usually tends to leap instantly to the negative connotation of the word. Selfishness is bad. It means that you are being self-centered and egotistical and no one will like you. We are taught as children that being selfish is bad behavior and sharing is good. But they fail to teach us the positive side to selfishness. While the ideal of sharing has obvious value, it leaves a bad taste in our mouth for the rest of our lives, because who wants to be known as selfish? When someone calls you selfish it is not uncommon to feel shame and guilt, right? As we know this lowers our vibration and closes our heart. This childhood conditioning is important to understand – and overcome. It is overcome by broadening your perspective of the term and understanding that it has a powerfully positive side.
Being selfish and self-centered is a paradox, because that behavior, in its positive form, is the only way to attain true selflessness. A state of selflessness happens only when we let go of the ego and realize that there is no “self.” But our mind has the tendency to associate selfishness with a negative view because that is what we have been taught and it’s most often our experience with it. Black Friday is quickly approaching, this offers the opportunity to observe ego-driven selfishness as people fight over sales items and even kill one another in the name of getting what they want, or even something as meaningless as a parking place. Is this any way to follow a holiday that occurs just the day before that is focused upon being thankful? Bookstores carry massive amounts of titles in the Self-Improvement or Self-Help section, yet they don’t title this section as “Selfishness” because who would want to be seen purchasing one of those books?
I would like to help you change your negative view of selfishness to a positive perspective of empowerment. I would like you to know the difference between selfishness and Self-ishness. I would like to help you to reclaim a positive view of this term and thereby opening your mind to a new perspective and positive mental conditioning that can free your mind from the mental shackles placed upon it by negative conditioning.
The key factor to grasp here is whether you are referring to selfishness generated by the ego, or selfishness implemented by the essence (spirit). The distinction makes things more evident and only one will lead to letting go of the self in order to attain selflessness.
When we truly act selfishly, driven by our ego, we act with only our own best interest in mind and disregard others completely. We choose not to consider what is right and wrong, or the feelings or well-being of others, only our own. When selfishness is the product of the ego the only outcome is to be dragged deeper into our own egoic mind, becoming lost as it dominates our entire being. Ego-driven selfishness can be witnessed by those who crave and create drama, use guilt and shame to manipulate and control, and those who otherwise act with their own best interest in mind without care for the consequences. While it is this ego-driven selfishness that is the most well-known, it is not the only side to the coin. Viewing selfishness only from the negative perspective can actually cause a mental and emotional block that will keep you from personal and spiritual improvement.
I have taken some training in my business field by a person who once had a meditation business that he called “Self-Centered.” Pretty clever spin on the paradoxical nature of selfishness, I thought. So did he. The business, however, failed quickly primarily due to the negative perspective associated with being a self-centered person. This was most unfortunate because this person was offering some valuable and effective meditation methods that people missed out on experiencing. This demonstrates the mental conditioning of our childhood as well as the limited perspective, and negative focus of the mind. When you’re practicing meditation, you are indeed centering upon your self and within your self, this is actually an incredibly healthy activity. nothing negative about it. I feel that the inability to unplug the negative emotional connection associated by the accepted social norm of such terms as selfishness, without the ability to reclaim a positive view of it, is a leading cause in the worldwide epidemic of egotism that we face today.
Selfishness, when produced by the essence (spirit), is our ability to focus upon ourselves. It is not only a necessary practice but a beautiful one that allows us to create a better world one person at a time as well. This form of selfishness has our own best interest at heart and offers no negative impact on others. Of course, the ego of others may not always see it that way, in fact, they usually don’t. However, such essence-inspired selfishness is the case when we are applying self-improvement practices of any kind. It is this positive focus of selfishness that I would like to expose in this article and hopefully shift your mind to see this good selfishness instead of the bad as your initial mental perspective. Essence based selfishness is a natural and necessary step on the path to personal and spiritual expansion as you cannot obtain a state of selflessness without first turning your attention inward on your self.
In other words, you cannot become selfless without first becoming selfish!
When we center our focus upon our self and begin to improve ourselves, this is the positive form of selfishness. You will generally find that it requires great effort and focus at times. But until we get things right within ourselves, things will never be right in the reality we create all around us. When we are selfish in regards to taking the time to focus on ourselves and what is required to become the best version of ourselves that we can be, it can never be a bad thing. Indeed, it is a great act that requires a serious degree of courage and hard work that few seem to be willing to put forth. Meditation, Qigong, and Yoga could be viewed as selfish acts, but in a very positive way. They invoke positive changes and growth within our own being. This inward reflection where you focus only on yourself is the first step on the path to selflessness.
Reprogram yourself to understand that there is also this good version of selfishness. Feel the vibration of the word selfish when you know that it is referring to improving and expanding your own sense of self. Allow this good feeling to replace the bad in your focus of selfishness. Then, as you continue your self practices, you will be see that the flip side of this form of selfishness is not a bad version of it, but instead selflessness. Once you attain a state of selflessness, you will transcend selfishness as you will come to grasp that there is truly no “self” to begin with. When I hear the word “selfish,” I think “Oh good someone is focusing on their own personal growth and that’s awesome!”
It is through selfishness that you become more and more selfless. It’s then that you truly know how to share because your desire to do so comes from the heart. You care more for others than you care about your self. You give of your self freely without any expectation of return. You act in service of others because it is your heart’s desire. It is through selfishness that we come to live this way as our sense of self dissolves into the void and we return to oneness.
What selfish act have you performed today? I feel its important to act form this positive form of selfishness every day. At least until you transcend the sense of self and realize that there is no self to improve upon anyway. I feel that paradoxes always make for wild rides! But then, I suppose we should expect nothing less of a Universal Truth. 🙂