“Selfish” Isn’t a Swear Word

Did you know that selfish isn’t a swear word? Cause it took me a long time to figure that out…

Now let me clarify, there’s a big difference between being selfish and being greedy. I think we often use those words interchangeably. I see selfish as doing something to benefit yourself (good or bad), and greed as withholding something from someone else (again, good or bad). While technically they are almost identical in their meanings, I’m talking about the self-care kind of selfish. It’s still not okay to steal someone’s toy on the playground or intentionally exclude that one kid that sits alone at lunch everyday.

It IS okay to tell someone “no” without explanation. Oftentimes when taking care of yourself it can be seen as selfish. This is especially apparent in situations where you are setting boundaries that include not responding to certain people, turning your phone off a few hours a week, or deciding you don’t want to talk about certain topics, especially with certain people.

We live in a world of instant gratification. We expect people to give us what we want when we want it and when they don’t they “don’t care” are “rude” and “selfish.”

No. False. That’s not true.

I had to set some really tough boundaries in the last few years with people I care deeply about. It was nothing against my love for them, but I realized — with guidance from friends — that their presence in my life was more draining than rewarding and impacted my mental health negatively. There are people I had to cut out completely for reasons I won’t disclose, but the main boundary I had to set was refusing to talk about certain topics with the people I chose to keep in my life. For a long time, the message wasn’t getting across that it wasn’t the relationship that I wanted to end, but rather a relationship that consisted of these conversations. We’ve since been able to start having interactions again, but it took almost 3 years of firm boundaries… and even then I still have to take breaks if that line is crossed.

When those boundaries were first set, there were a lot of tears of guilt. I felt selfish and mean. But I wasn’t selfish and mean. I was selfish and tough. And when it comes to taking care of yourself, those are far from negative things. 

Setting boundaries is not a negative. And selfish is not a swear word.

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