What does it mean to be selfish?  Do you have to perform a certain number of “selfish” acts to be labeled such?  Must you completely sacrifice everything you think and feel and need so others can have theirs to be called unselfish? I believe that selfishness has gotten a bad rap. And perhaps is misnamed.  Why don’t we call it self aware, instead?

Being Self Aware means, I would say, that you give when you can.  If you find some place where your needs are calling out, I believe you’re obligated, as a steward of your own life, to ask for what you need.  Even if it appears to be “selfish.”

I heard Cheryl Richardson speak this weekend.  She is a wonderful speaker. I could’ve listened to her speak about any subject and be mesmerized.  She told us a story about being on Oprah.  In front of a large audience of mothers, Cheryl told them that they must put their own needs ahead of their children’s.  There were many gasps, mumbles of disapproval and several shout outs that she was wrong.  But Cheryl stuck to what she said.  Especially for mothers.  Mothers so often stretch themselves thin trying to please everyone  Tell me, how much can mom do if she’s drained and burned out?  What harm might she inflict on her children if her needs go unmet?  What kind of role model is a mother who never takes care of her own needs?  As Cheryl said, we are not suggesting the mother toss the children aside and drive to Vegas for a  round of partying.  But if you need some quiet time, an extra once of encouragement, space to do your own thing, you owe it to yourself and to everyone you care about to try to get what you need. My thinking is: if you don’t stand up for what you want or need, who will?

I recently got a lot of flack for asking for what I needed. I felt like I allowed, allowed, allowed and then I stood up for myself when I thought it was necessary. It’s easy, in situations like this to have selective memory.  Oh my, when was I selfish before? There, maybe? And perhaps that time I was, too.  But in between, I wasn’t.  I asked what others wanted, I did what I could to give others what they needed.  I put aside my preferences.  But maybe it wasn’t enough.  Perhaps others have given more than I have.  Is it wise to play that kind of adding up game?  Being impossible to keep track of the score.

How can I know what others need if they don’t ask?  So, true for me: How can I expect others to know what I need unless I tell them?  Being selfish is really all you can do – to take care that your own needs are met.  When you do, you are in much better shape to take care of others’ needs.

I am going to try to be more self aware and in the process more aware of what others are asking for.  I will give when I can, but remember to ask for what I need when the situation comes up.  And not worry if I’m called selfish.