Will the Myth of Selfishness Ruin Your 2009?

What do you want from 2009? What will the New Year hold for you? As you start thinking about what you want to do or have, does a sense of guilt creep in?

Whether you have a specific memory from a young age, or even just a sense of ‘learning’ that selfishness was an inherently bad thing – it seems intrinsic to our moral education as human beings; and so when it comes time to start thinking about what we want our next year to be like, there is often an accompanying sense of guilt that holds us back from being truthful with ourselves about our goals.

What does Selfishness mean to you? What words, thoughts or emotions does it conjure up? We are all likely to have personal experiences of being exposed to or accused of ‘selfish’ acts and thoughts (even judging ourselves or our desires in this way!) – yet we don’t seem to stop and ask: What exactly is selfish about wanting the best for ourselves?

By definition, Selfishness is the existence of two conditions:

  1. Concern primarily for one’s own welfare, benefit or interests; AND
  2. That this occurs regardless of, or with disregard for, others.

Does your personal understanding of Selfishness include both points 1) AND 2) above? The Myth of Selfishness suggests that somewhere along the way, either through misunderstanding, or incomplete ‘examples’ to learn by, Selfishness has subconsciously become interpreted as point 1) alone. That is, without awareness, we have developed beliefs that concern for our own welfare – what is best for us individually – is a bad thing!!!


The consequences you accept by choosing to live with this myth may be subtle or dramatic – either way, they are far-reaching. For some, an unspoken fear or tension may be felt every time they think about doing something that they know would be good for themselves; for others, it may be a lifelong dream continually swept under the rug with a mountain of excuses; feelings of unworthiness or guilt when considering what they want; or an inability to follow through and take action on a prioritised goal or decision.

How do those impacts sound? Do any ring true for you when you think about what you want 2009 to be like? The scary thing is that living with this Myth has an even deeper consequence. When you deny yourself something – a relationship, a career, a resource, a choice, or anything you believe would be best for you – you may be preventing yourself from being truly happy. Chances are, you are being inauthentic with yourself, and here’s the irony: when you are inauthentic with yourself you are also inauthentic with others. With everyone, in every relationship you share.

If you are not being your best self, if you are not looking after yourself, how can you possibly help/love/be honest with those you care about most? By not questioning the Myth of Selfishness and its role in our own lives, we are unconsciously acting out exactly what we don’t want!

When you choose to be authentic and to make decisions based on what is best for you, those decisions can still be made with true consideration and regard for others.


(© Seraphima Coaching 2007-2008, www.seraphima.com, adapted from an L3 Message Extract: May’07)