Why being selfish is a good thing

October 29th 2022

Being selfish is seen as a bad thing - I am here to challenge that!!!


I guess it is not often that someone advises you to be selfish!

So before you close this page down, allow me to explain.

I believe the word has become misconstrued.  Selfish is linked with doing something for yourself at the cost of others.  For example, eating all 4 donuts so that the other 3 members of your family go without.

My ‘selfish’ is related to putting yourself first on the basis that when you look after yourself, you are in a better position to look after others!

Glass half empty

We have a regularly used analogy in our language related to glass half full, glass half empty.  It is typically related to positivity or negativity.

Taking the same glass, I relate the water to energy.  When you are constantly giving of your energy – doing things for other people all the time, then your glass becomes emptier and emptier.  If it becomes totally empty you are ‘in drought’ – and the body starts to be in dis-ease.  This is when you become highly susceptible to illness.

However ‘selfishness’ is doing those things that put water (energy) back in your glass.  It’s those lovely walks in the country, the soak in the bath, the hour on the sofa reading a good book, the 10k run – or whatever it is that, for you, leaves you feeling more energised.  The aim is to have your glass so full that it is overflowing!

This means that there is plenty of water (energy) available for others to have if they need it, and you are so hydrated (healthy) that the risk of illness is hugely reduced.

My story

I can speak about this from personal experience.

I have ended up in hospital twice through letting my glass become totally dry.  I was unable to say ‘No’ to people, thought I was superwoman and could do it all and rarely put myself first.  I ignored the signs (the headaches, the mouth ulcers, the abject tiredness..)

The first time, left me in hospital for 3 days and I had 3 weeks off of work.  Not much help to my work colleagues!

The second time, I spent a week in hospital with pneumonia leaving Nick at home with two very young children whilst trying to run a Regiment.  How was that helping any of them?

I didn’t learn the first time around.  I have learned now.

Now I feel very comfortable saying that I am a selfish person

The impact of that – Covid excluding, I have not been ill for over 7 years.  I can stay on my A game much of the time.  I am better at being the wife, the mother, the therapist, the sister, that I want to be.  No-one loses out.

Are you ready for a challenge?

I would love you to avoid making the mistakes I made and learn from my experience.  So are you up for a challenge??

Make a list of all the things that are ‘glass fillers’ for you.  Aim to find a mixture of activities in terms of time.  So for example, one of the things that always lifts my mood is a dance around the kitchen to two specific songs I have on my phone – 7 minutes and I feel better!! When I have more time, I know a yomp out through the woods with the dogs will lift morale.

Once you have a list, make a commitment to do at least one of them (and ideally a different one each day) each day and at the end of the week,  see what difference it has made to your glass (energy levels).

This list is a great one to have.  If you know you have a tough week ahead, or perhaps a big presentation to do and it is ‘draining you’ then program in time in your diary to either ensure your glass is fully topped up beforehand, or do things that puts some energy back in afterwards.  Not only will it keep your glass fuller, it will mean you perform better during those tougher times too!

So please share your top cup filler in the comments box below – it may give someone else a great idea on things they can add to their list.

Caroline Cavanagh is an anxiety specialist  and hypnotherapist in Salisbury, Wiltshire.  She is an author and public speaker and would love to talk to you if you would like to know more about her work

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2 responses to “Why being selfish is a good thing”

  1. Samantha Gollop says:

    Whenever anyone asks me “can you do me a favour” I have learned to respond “on the understanding that I may say NO” – it is the hardest word when we are conditioned to be helpful and say yes, but it is also about respecting yourself and knowing what you can achieve without exhausting yourself ❤️

    • Anxiety_Specialist says:

      I have a similar response to ‘Can I ask you a question?’ My answer is always ‘Yes, but I cannot guarantee I will answer it!’ This normally results in a smile!!

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