As a Personal Trainer these are two words that I here a lot from my clients. The word “selfish” is usually associated with negative and narcissistic behaviors while the word “selfless” is usually associated with positive and altruistic behaviors.
Many of my clients come to me conflicted with the idea of self time and exercise as being selfish. they are under the false impression that adopting a healthier lifestyle is not a good thing because they are taking away time that could be spent with their jobs, kids, loved ones, and family. This is especially prevalent among moms of young children as well as any person having very demanding careers...mostly men.
First let’s define “selfish”.
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary
"concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others”
Second let’s define “selfless”
“having no concern for self : UNSELFISH”
Now let’s put these two words into a greater perspective. My thoughts are that you need a balance between both of them. I think that if you are a completely selfish person your family relationship and social life will suffer. Similarly if you are a selfless person your family relationship and social life will suffer. Why do I say this?
Here’s how I view the differences between the two. I think that when you are selfish you can develop lots of short term gains and Long term losses. Let’s just take exercise for example. As an exercise junkie you can have Perfect health and the best physique but you may not be a very nice person to be around because you will be completely concerned with yourself. As a result your social relationships will crumble. Like who wants to be around the meathead that looks down on everyone else because they are not as healthy as them? Humans are social creatures no matter how hard we try not to be. Without love in your life you will be a miserable person and will not live as long. This is a proven fact!
Now as a selfless person you are constantly giving all of your energies away. It is inevitable that you will feel like everyone is using you because they actually are. That is the sad truth. Some people will take advantage of you just as a parasite will do to its host. They will suck you dry of everything good in you and move onto the next. You will feel unappreciated and unloved and as a result become guarded and very distrusting of others. Like who wants to be around that person who always thinks you’re lying to them? Or want something from them???
I think The balance between selfish and selfless needs to be broken into four questions and prioritized as follows:
How important is your job to you?
How important is your time to you?
How important are your friends family and loved ones to you?
How important is your health to you?
Okay, now what I do Is determine the common denominator between all four of the questions above.
My answer is Health! Just think about it, without being healthy you are not able to perform your job duties, be there for your friends family and loved ones, Or enjoy any of your free time. If you are always sickly what does any of that stuff matter? You may spend the majority of your time hospitalized, bedridden, and eventually being a burden on everyone in your life. Inevitably you will die and people will almost feel Relieved without you. Sad but true!
Therefore my conclusion is you must be somewhat selfish in the pursuit of your health and wellness. However you must also give a large part of yourself to your friends, family, loved ones, and job. Once you have determined the common denominator which is your health--that should become your main priority in life. How does the saying go? "I cannot help others if I cannot help myself". I live and die by this!
What are your thoughts?? Do you agree or disagree? Maybe you have a different perspective either way I would like to hear it!