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The Way I See It

What's wrong with taking care of your own needs first so that you can meet the needs of others with integrity?
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Be more selfish this holiday season and you will have a better holiday. Many of you doubt my last statement don't you? But I invite you to answer these questions for yourself:

• Do you give of yourself to others only to be disappointed in what you get back?
• Do you believe that if you put others first that you will be rewarded in some way?
• Do you often feel drained of energy as though you have nothing left to give?
• Do you carry around anger, guilt and resentment?
• Do you often feel "taken for granted" or "taken advantage of" by others?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you will benefit by being more selfish. First, let's first define the term so that we're all on the same page, then I will make my case.

Selfish-1. Concerned chiefly or only with oneself. 2. Caring supremely or unduly for one's self, regarding one's own comfort, advantage, etc. 3. (Ethics) Believing or teaching that the chief motives of human action are derived from love of self.

I'm writing this because I think the word "selfish" gets a bad rap. What's wrong with taking care of your own needs first so that you can meet the needs of others with integrity? Do you even know what your needs are? (If you have a hard time answering "yes" to that question, write me and I will happily send you a list of needs that we all share as human beings.)

From the moment we are born we are very in tune with what we need, and we would cry in order to let someone know that a need wasn't being met. Our very survival depended upon it. So what happened along the way to us that threw us so off course from going after our needs as our top priority? For me, I was taught that being "selfless" was the way to go. Selfless: Having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for one's self, unselfish. There's a big difference between sacrificing for others, versus benevolence toward others.

Read on and I will show you how getting your needs met will benefit you by giving you more freedom, choice, and integrity in your life.

The concept of Choice is an important part of the Selfish lifestyle. The ability to make choices based on fulfilling one's needs eliminates the feeling of guilt. The ability to choose and the absence of guilt leads to true freedom, which I believe, are essential to happiness. How often, especially during the holidays, are we trying to make everyone happy, and by doing so, feel we need to put their needs before our own? My mentor, Bill, calls this acting out of duty and obligation.

Everyday we are presented with a myriad of choices. If we are clear about what needs are getting met in any given choice, we can stand firm in our decision. This is the first step to eliminating guilt. Now we are acting from an empowered position of meeting our needs, rather than merely acting on "feeling".

Making choices based in love of self and not based in duty and obligation leads to true freedom. I propose that is this sense of freedom which is essential to the attainment of happiness in life. If, for instance, we perceive that we are limited in our choices, we will tend to feel frustrated, powerless, and overwhelmed with anxiety about the future. If, on the other hand, we perceive that we have options, choices, we will tend to feel empowered, hopeful, and free to choose the direction of our lives.

I'm not talking only about the "big" choices we all make; I'm talking about the little everyday ones too. Each time you act in your self interest it builds upon itself increasing your sense of freedom. For example, your very good friend asks you to come to her party Saturday night. Instead of saying yes and feeling guilty about the time you spend apart from your husband and children, check in with yourself to see what needs will be met by going to her party, and what needs are met by staying with your family. Make your decision based on your priority of needs.

Each choice you make from this place keeps you in integrity with yourself. Living your life from this place of integrity eliminates resentment. Eliminating resentment is one of the most positive changes you can make. Resentment is poison to mental health. I once heard it described this way: "Resentment is like me taking poison and hoping that you die from it."

Now you may be thinking that if you always acted in your self interest you wouldn't have any friends left. Not true! You are modeling for them honesty and integrity. My friends never have to wonder how I really feel. This frees them up to meet their own needs as well. I now notice the people in my life who choose to live in a place of self trust and self love, and those that choose to live in duty and obligation. I can feel the difference in energy between the two. So although you may be spending the holidays with friends and family that are not in touch with their needs and the benefits of selfishness, don't despair. The way I see it is if you're going to be called selfish for taking the last piece of pumpkin pie, know that you are simply meeting your need for choice.