If you look up “selfish” in the dictionary, the first definition reads like this:
Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
If you remove the bolded words in that definition, you have a recipe for the “right way” to be selfish. In other words, to be self-nurturing…to serve yourself. (Is it not telling that we do not have a word in the English language that captures this concept?)
You cannot learn the right way to be selfish if you don’t know what you want for yourself. And if you’ve been spending too much of your time trying to serve other people instead of serving yourself, you may not know what you like and dislike in life.
Take the time to get to know yourself.
This can be a hard practice to develop if you are used to serving another person. One thing you can do is “date yourself” — a google search provides many ideas. Short of that, here are some other practices to help you get to know yourself:
- Make a list of what makes you happy
- Make a list of what makes you unhappy
- Update the list as you learn more about yourself
- Turn your phone off and put it away for an hour every day
- Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to do that you’ve never done
- Try one thing from the list every month
- Go a week without TV or Internet
- Set aside a 3-hour chunk of time for yourself every week.
Whenever you set aside that time — it could be Friday night or Sunday morning, it doesn’t matter — do something with yourself. Planning ahead helps, but it’s not required. Try to do something without your phone, or without the Internet. Really, just commit to doing 3 hours of something, and then force yourself to figure out the “something.”
There are a plethora of other ways to accomplish this, but start with these. Give this process time…It will not happen overnight. But knowing yourself is essential to having a good relationship. How can you have someone who amplifies your life if you do not know what it is you want for yourself?