Selfish. It’s such a dirty word, isn’t it? Used on the attack and as an insult, when we believe that someone hasn’t thought about our own needs and wants before their own; it’s as if this becomes a prerequisite in the forging of a relationship. I wonder whether being ‘selfless’ is the aspiration, and if so, whether this is the key to all successful relationships? As I ponder these ideas, I’m reminded of Samantha in Sex and The City as she contemplates her relationship with her long term partner Jarrod: ‘is a relationship saying his name 50 times more a day than I say my own?‘ Unlike Samantha, I am of course referring to all close relationships, not simply the romantic kind, because it sometimes feels that when we develop a close alliance with someone, our loyalties and their value to us is often measured by how much their needs are placed beyond our own. I’m left wondering therefore, whether the ‘I’ can still exist in the ‘we’.
To an extent, I believe that these questions are more pertinent in the early stages of a relationship when the others’ perception of you is fragile, yet incredibly significant. Subsequently, you want to give and prioritise the other; in fact, they say that love is the only state which invites selflessness. Most recently though, I found myself in this situation – where I really cared for someone and as part of this care, I found myself putting their needs first. This only became a problem when I realised that no one was really there looking out for my needs, feelings and wants. What materialised was a dormant yet omnipresent feeling of frustration – a frustration which emerges from the human part of our nature which is selfish.
Being selfish is part of being human, rather than a trait that should attract negative press and those that genuinely care and love us will allow us to be selfish, to an extent. Giving is an inherent part of who I am – it comes quite naturally to me, but those that know me well will know when to boundary this ‘giving’ – reassuring me that I don’t need to keep giving in a limitless form for them to know how much I care. It’s important to invest in self care and the self because ultimately, if we don’t, unmet needs surface in feelings of frustration, anger, resentment, disappointment… the list is endless. In a mutual and balanced relationship – be it romantic or platonic – the dynamic is never really ‘give and take’ but rather ‘give/give’ – if both partners are putting one another first, both are having their natural and human needs met.
Happiness this week therefore, is……..knowing when it’s okay to be selfish. Being selfless is a beautiful quality and on many occasions, someone else’s needs do need to be put above and beyond our own, but we must also learn to boundary this – to recognise when our own needs and wants are being neglected in the course of giving to another. To have self worth and esteem is about recognising the value of own needs – love, attention, being kept in mind etc – if we don’t attribute value to those needs, we give others the permission to neglect them too and this is the beginning of a dysfunctional and toxic dynamic. I love my friends and hopefully, ‘my person’ one day, but that doesn’t have to be at the expense of the love I have for myself ❤