There’s selfish… and there is… SELFISH!

We’ve all experienced selfish behaviour. Maybe we can even admit we have been selfish too. But is this always such a bad thing?

Positive selfishness can have far reaching positive effects on yourself and others


Putting Things Off

‘Positive’ selfishness can have far reaching and welcoming effects on yourself, and those around you. If you respectfully put off something someone wants you to do, or indeed something you have to do,  in order to provide some ‘you’ time, you may create for yourself a little space which can improve your performance and lift your creativity. This is something that will be of benefit to you, and those around you.


Managing expectations of others, and indeed your own, is a crucial component of emotional wellbeing. If you are always putting the wishes of others in front of your own needs, or, in other words, people-pleasing, you will simply find yourself becoming less and less tolerant… and more and more irritated; whilst bemoaning your lot. A wonderful book titled ‘Awareness’, by the late Anthony De Mello, expresses this aspect of human conditioning to great effect!

Be Kind to Yourself

It’s so tempting to keep putting others needs before your own ‘because you can’; because you like to feel responsible, or just simply because you haven’t figured how to say ‘no’. There is a world of difference in joining your pals down the pub for the sixth night of the week, and sharing that the task waiting to be done, will be – but maybe just not right now.


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About the author
Managing Director / Counsellor at Anglia Counselling Ltd | 07747042899 | [email protected] | Business Website

Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.

Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).


  1. Ann Hawkins

    There is a reason that airline safety instructions say: “Always put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping other people” If you don’t take care of yourself you end up being a liability to other people. Self care is crucial, both physically and mentally.

  2. Tim

    I was chatting to a chap the other day. He is not selfish enough to say ‘no’. This means that his workload is enormous, and his boss has no feedback to say that he is under huge stress because he is failing to cope.

    Were he to tell his boss he is overworked, then the boss would have the chance to bid for more resources. Perhaps the boss, too, is overworked. He needs to be given the chance to say ‘no’ to more and more work, the work he delegates to my chap.

    Being genuinely selfish is helpful, the more so if the selfishness is delivered with consideration for others. There’s a huge difference between yelling, “NO! I am overworked, can’t you see it, you idiot!” and “If I take this task on I will be entirely unable to do it in the time you need it. I’ll do it, of course I will, but I need you to help me re-prioritise my other tasks. Something has to give and there aren’t enough hours in the day. Help me with this, please?”

    Each of those delivers the message that more work is impossible. One of them means both people win. Sure, the work suffers, but it was doing that anyway.

    • Hi Tim, and thank you for providing another clear example of how we can be positively selfish – without detriment to others. In fact, as you allude, it offers potential growth in a number of ways. Thanks so much for dropping by with such excellent points.

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