(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)
This Distinction can be tricky because there is so much cultural programming and momentum around the word ‘selfish.’ Most of us are trained from Day 1 that to be selfish is a bad behavior. “Share your toys. Don’t be selfish.”
Becoming a selfish adult is to see the world as resource limited. “I better get mine and to heck with everyone else.” This view from the perspective of scarcity shades all your interactions, and even your private thoughts.
Selfish behavior is mostly based on having unmet needs, or feeling not enough, or seeing yourself and the universe as limited. In these contexts being selfish can be a useful survival tool, but there is more to life than mere survival.
Contributions to, and from, life are much easier when you have a strong sense of your Self — your essence, soul, spirit, Beingness, or whatever term you use to describe that part of you which transcends your physical, mental, and emotional body.
Your Self needs your attention. Just as you feed your body to help it grow and be healthy, so does your Self need to be nurtured and attended to. You do that by being Self-ish, that is, by tending to the Self. Healthily Self-ish.
Have strong boundaries. Build abundant reserves. Have a clear vision of what your life is about. Knowing Who-You-Really-Are, your Self, is a basis for a great life. Take care of your Self first and you will have much more to share freely with others.
Coaching Point: Are you okay with being Self(hyphen)ish?
Copyright 2010 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.