The Taboo Word: Selfishness And Why It’s So Important In Healthy Relationships

The Taboo Word: Selfishness And Why It’s So Important In Healthy Relationships

Most of us were raised being told that good people help others.  Hold the door for people, donate your time to your community, give to charity. This is all wonderful, but there is something very important lacking in this teaching.  The importance of selfishness.  

Perhaps you have heard before, you can’t fill others cups when yours is empty.  This is absolutely true especially in our relationships.  When we give of our time and energy to another without filling our cup first, resentment starts to build.  Our partner asks us to rub their feet, make dinner, mow the lawn, change the oil, pick up the kids, help with this, help with that.  As the good caring individuals most of us are, we want to help.  Our intentions are good.  We love our partners and want to help make their lives easier.  But when we don’t take care of ourselves, when we don’t speak up and let them know we need some time to fill our cup first, this is where resentment comes in.  Our good intention turns into feeling unappreciated, undervalued and unloved.  But here’s the key, it’s not our partners that are underappreciating, undervaluing or not loving us, it’s OURSELVES!!  We become fearful of the nasty word selfishness and instead of treating ourselves in compassionate loving ways, we push and push until we are miserable.  Then even worse, we blame those closest to us for our misery.

Why do we do this to ourselves?  

Fear.  Fear of being a “bad person”, fear of being rejected from those we love, fear of being worthless.  Those deep fears silently weave their way into our thoughts and tell us, if you say no, your partner might not love you, might leave you, might confirm  your worthless!  Who wouldn’t push themselves to exhaustion trying to avoid those fears?!  But the problem is, they are unavoidable.  By pushing ourselves we end up tired, angry, resentful and often alone.  

Treat yourself like the way you want to be treated

If you want the possibility for a happy loving relationship, then it’s time to treat yourself like you desire your partner to treat you.  It’s time to get a little selfish and realize that you are attempting to scoop out from an empty cup.  If you don’t treat yourself with love and respect, then why will others.  You are the role model for the treatment you are willing to accept.  If you don’t tell your partners when you need help or time to recharge, how are they supposed to know?  It can be hard for many to start taking care of themselves.  Many fears come up regarding selfishness and being undeserving.  It can be very scary to challenge our beliefs.  But it can also open a entirely new world full of wonderful possibilities.  Better communication, more enjoyment, excitement to be alive!  Isn’t that worth questioning some of the beliefs you were raised with?  Isn’t that worth finding a balance between giving and taking?  I sure think so.

Becky is a licensed clinical counselor. She has her own private practice in Bozeman MT. She has an experience of over a decade in individual and family therapy. She helps people struggling with problems such as depression, anxiety and crisis. She is a graduate from Montana State University specializing in mental health.