What Is Healthy Selfishness in Relationships? 5 Helpful Tips
In This Article
We often associate the word “selfishness” with negative connotations such as being self-centered and insensitive to others’ needs. However, what if you are told that such a thing as “healthy selfishness” could benefit yourself and those around you?
What does selfishness mean when it is healthy?
Healthy selfishness is taking care of your own needs and well-being without neglecting the needs of others. It’s about finding the right balance between self-care and caring for others.
Many people often prioritize the needs of others over their own, resulting in burnout and negative consequences for their health.
In this article, we will discuss what healthy selfishness means and provide tips on practicing it daily. By understanding the benefits of healthy selfishness and incorporating it into your routine, you can improve your overall well-being and become a better and happier person.
What is healthy selfishness?
In an essay written by Öz Soysal and Bakalim (2022), they note that Maslow (1996) introduced the concept of “healthy selfishness.” Healthy selfishness definition is the practice of respecting and prioritizing your own needs and well-being while also considering the needs and well-being of others.
Good selfishness involves making choices that serve your best interests without harming those around you. Simply put, it’s about balancing caring for yourself and being considerate of others.
Unlike what some may think, healthy selfishness is not about being self-centered or disregarding others’ feelings. Rather, it is about setting boundaries, saying no when necessary, and taking care of yourself in a way that allows you to show up fully for others.
Moreover, healthy selfishness is a mindset that values self-care and prioritizes your needs, like physical, emotional, and mental health. It is an essential component of self-care, and when done healthily, it can enhance your relationships and overall well-being, increase your happiness, and help you to live a more fulfilling life.
10 examples of healthy selfishness
As mentioned earlier, healthy selfishness refers to prioritizing your needs and desires while being considerate of others. It allows you to create boundaries and care for yourself without feeling guilty or selfish.
Here are some examples of selfishness that are healthy you can consider:
1. Saying no
When you’re asked to do something that doesn’t align with your values, it’s okay to decline. This could be anything from declining a social invitation to refusing to take on extra work at your job. Saying no can help you prioritize your time and energy for things that matter most.
Related Reading: 5 Ways to Say “No” When You’re Not in the Mood
2. Setting boundaries
As therapist Lauren Street explains, boundaries are important in any relationship, whether with friends, family, or coworkers and doing so doesn’t make you selfish.
Set clear boundaries and communicate them effectively so that you are not taken advantage of or subjected to behaviors that make you uncomfortable.
3. Pursuing your passions
Pursuing your hobbies and interests is a good example of selfishness and a great way to practice healthy selfishness. It allows you to take time and engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.
4. Taking care of your health
Taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health is essential for your overall well-being. Healthy selfishness means prioritizing your health by eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and seeking professional help when necessary.
Related Reading: Simple Steps to Take Care of Your Relationships
5. Expressing your feelings
According to experts, attempting to suppress our thoughts and emotions can cause them to resurface even stronger, making it challenging to communicate effectively with loved ones.
To effectively manage our mental states, it’s essential to take the time to reflect on our thoughts and emotions and develop strategies for handling them.
Healthy selfishness includes expressing your feelings and needs to others. Communicating clearly and assertively rather than suppressing your emotions is important to avoid conflict or inconvenience. When you do this, you prioritize your needs and desires while still being considerate of others.
6. Making time for alone time
When you prioritize having alone time, it shows that you value healthy selfishness and practicing it. Taking time to do things you enjoy alone, such as going for a walk, is a form of healthy selfishness. It’s a way to recharge and connect with oneself, which is important for overall well-being.
7. Practicing self-compassion
Being kind and understanding to oneself. Recognizing that mistakes and failures are part of learning is an important aspect of healthy selfishness. Investing in yourself is a form and example of selfishness practice that is healthy as it helps you grow and develop new experiences.
Understanding oneself is one of the most challenging things in the universe. Despite spending decades on earth, we may have only grasped the most fundamental aspects of our identity and how we operate.
Related Reading: How to Practice Self Compassion for a Satisfying Relationship
8. Pursuing personal goals
Pursuing your goals and aspirations is another way to show that you are practicing positive selfishness. Rather than always putting the needs of others before your own or expecting things from others, it is important to prioritize your own ambitions and work towards them.
9. Taking responsibility for your own happiness
Taking responsibility for your own happiness is an example of healthy selfishness., rather than relying on others to make you happy. Remember, it is important to recognize that your happiness is ultimately your responsibility and to take actions that support your well-being and fulfillment.
10. Forgiving yourself
Ultimately, practicing self-forgiveness is an important aspect of healthy selfishness. Always remember, it’s okay to make mistakes and have flaws. When you learn to forgive yourself and practice it, you are helping yourself to let go of negative self-talk and self-judgment.
Remember that healthy selfishness is not about being self-centered or disregarding the needs of others. It’s about balancing caring for yourself and being considerate of others. You can improve your overall well-being by practicing healthy selfishness.
Related Reading: 12 Ways to Forgive Yourself for Ruining a Relationship
5 factors that influence the absence of healthy selfishness
When looking after ourselves, we often hear about the significance of self-care and self-love. However, we don’t often hear about the concept of “healthy selfishness,” which is the practice of prioritizing our desires in a balanced manner without harming others.
Unfortunately, various elements could impact the absence of healthy selfishness, making it hard for us to prioritize our needs and further inflicting the emotions of guilt or anxiety. Below are five factors that could impact the absence of different types of selfishness that are healthy:
1. Social conditioning
From a younger age, we are often taught that putting others first is a virtue. While it’s vital to be compassionate and thoughtful of others, this can sometimes lead to a belief that our own needs are less important. We may feel guilty or selfish when we try to prioritize our own well-being.
Related Reading: The Harsh Truth About Social Media and Relationships’ Codependency
2. Fear of judgment
We can also fear what others think about us if we prioritize our desires. We may fear being labeled or categorized as egocentric, selfish or uncaring, even if our actions are reasonable and necessary.
If we tend towards perfectionism, we may feel we must constantly put others first to be seen as a “good” person. This can make it difficult to prioritize our own needs and desires, as we may feel that doing so would be a failure.
4. Lack of boundaries
When we don’t have clear boundaries in our relationships, it can be difficult to prioritize our own needs without feeling guilty or selfish. We may have to constantly please others to maintain the relationship, even if it means sacrificing our well-being.
5. Low self-esteem
We may struggle to prioritize our needs and desires if we don’t value ourselves. We may feel like we don’t deserve to take care of ourselves or that our own needs are not important enough.
Despite these factors, healthy selfishness is an important practice that can improve our well-being and happiness. By learning to prioritize our own needs and desires in a balanced and sustainable way, we can become more resilient, confident, and fulfilled individuals.
Related Reading: 10 Things to Expect When You Love a Man With Low Self-Esteem
5 benefits of practicing healthy selfishness
Many people assume that being selfish is always negative, but this is not necessarily the case. Healthy selfishness is about taking care of yourself in a way that does not harm others and can have many benefits. In this section, we will explore 5 benefits of being selfish healthily.
1. Improved self-esteem
When you prioritize your own needs, you send a message to yourself that you are worthy of care and attention. This can help to boost your self-esteem and confidence. When you feel good about yourself, you are better equipped to handle life’s challenges and pursue your goals.
2. Reduced stress
When you are constantly putting others’ needs before your own, it can be exhausting and stressful. Practicing healthy selfishness allows you to step back and prioritize your needs. This can help to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.
3. Better relationships
Practicing healthy selfishness can improve your relationships with others. When you care for yourself, you can better show up as the best self in your interactions with others. This can lead to more positive and fulfilling relationships.
4. Increased productivity
When you prioritize your own needs, you can better focus on your goals and responsibilities. This can lead to increased productivity and a greater sense of accomplishment.
5. Improved mental health
Practicing healthy selfishness can have a positive impact on your mental health. When you take care of yourself, you can better manage stress and maintain a positive outlook on life. This can help to reduce the risk of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Remember, healthy selfishness is not about being self-centered or uncaring. It is rather about taking care of yourself in a way that benefits both you and those around you. By practicing it, you can improve your overall health and relationship.
Related Reading: How to Talk to Your Partner About Mental Health: 10 Vital Tips
5 tips for encouraging healthy selfishness
Remember that your health should always be your priority and practicing healthy selfishness to maintain a healthy balance in your life and relationships is important. In this section, we will discuss five effective tips for encouraging healthy selfishness:
1. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries is crucial for practicing healthy selfishness. Identify what makes you feel uncomfortable or drained and communicate your needs clearly to others. It’s okay to say no to people or situations that don’t align with your priorities or values.
Related Reading: Sexual Boundaries: How to Set and Discuss Them With Your Spouse
2. Take care of yourself
Practicing healthy selfishness means caring for yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. Make sure to take breaks when needed, prioritize self-care activities that make you happy and fulfilled, and reflect on your goals and values.
3. Learn to say yes
While setting boundaries and saying no is important, practicing healthy selfishness also means saying yes to opportunities that align with your goals and values. Be open to new experiences and prioritize activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.
4. Prioritize your goals
It’s important to set goals and work towards them. Prioritize your goals and identify the steps you need to take to achieve them. Remember, asking for help and taking breaks when you need to recharge is okay.
Related Reading: Prioritize your Relationship, Partner, and Sexual Connection
5. Practice gratitude
As mentioned before, practicing healthy selfishness doesn’t mean ignoring the needs of others. So, practice gratitude as it helps you maintain a positive outlook and improve your mental health. Try taking time each day to reflect on what you’re grateful for and appreciate the good things in your life.
Always remember that practicing healthy selfishness means prioritizing your needs and desires while still considering the impact of your actions on others. It’s important to set boundaries, take care of yourself, learn to say yes, prioritize your goals, and practice gratitude.
Therefore, you can maintain a healthy balance in your life and relationships and ultimately live a happier and more fulfilling life by following these practical and effective tips.
Watch this video to learn more about how gratitude can improve your life, health and relationships:
Frequently asked questions
In this section, we’ll address some commonly asked questions that you might also have about healthy selfishness and what it means. Whether you’re new or old to a relationship and considering prioritizing your needs while still considering the impact of your actions on others, this section will help.
Can selfishness be healthy or a good thing?
Yes, selfishness can be healthy and good when practiced in a balanced and mindful way. This is known as healthy selfishness, which involves prioritizing your own needs and well-being without disregarding or harming others.
It allows you to set healthy boundaries, make empowered decisions, and pursue your goals and passions. Hence, helping you to maintain your physical, mental, and emotional health. Also, it boosts your self-esteem and improves your relationships.
To conclude, healthy selfishness is important in a well-rounded and fulfilling life. By prioritizing your needs and desires, you can maintain control over your life and set healthy boundaries with others.
However, it is vital to balance self-care and consideration for others. As with most things in life, moderation is key. To cultivate healthy selfishness, start by focusing on yourself each day. This might include activities like exercise, meditation, or pursuing a personal hobby.
Moreover, if you discover that you struggle with healthy selfishness or retaining healthy relationships, it may be beneficial to go for relationship counseling.
A counselor can help you identify your needs and desires and provide tools and strategies for setting boundaries and building healthy relationships.
Finally, healthy selfishness is about balancing self-care and consideration for others. By prioritizing your own needs and desires, you can build a fulfilling life while maintaining healthy relationships with others.
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