Self-Interest Is Not Selfishness

As I sit down writing this post, I noticed whenever I am typically frustrated; it is because I forget to focus on myself. I didn’t drink enough water and mind my own business. A good mentor of mine challenged me to look at it as an indication that there is an issue in me that I need to examine and fix. Again, his words find me in a time of need. (Leslie needs to go ahead and write that book!)

Once I examined my thoughts, I had to get over myself. I come to this simple conclusion because I don’t usually give special attention to the myriad of potential situations that could possibly annoy me. (Pick your battles, right?) There is nothing strangers and insignificant others can do to me that unnerve me because I simply choose not to let their comments, mannerisms and ideologies have residence in my mind. That is to say that the outside world does not have the power to affect you, if you constantly remind yourself to act in the best interest of you. When I give my thoughts permission to focus on someone other than my own interest, I begin to draw comparisons, feel slighted, used or compromised. And that’s where I draw the line.

People don’t owe me anything. If I expect anybody to care more about me than they do for themselves then I have already failed to live by my own belief that “Self-interest is not selfishness.” I mean, how could I blame you for doing what is essential for your survival or happiness? The better question I had to pose to myself was why aren’t I doing the same? Why am I getting mad for choosing to be selfless and vulnerable? Didn’t I know that was part of the risk of not choosing me?

Hell, being interested in myself has saved me from countless dead-end arguments, numerous unnecessary rumor mills, and plenty of drag-me-along-for-the-ride pity parties. I learned to save my energy for the important people in my tribe. Most importantly, I learned to make better choices based off my past decisions and results.

In an effort to understand self-interest and selfishness better, what constitutes selfishness to you? Where do you draw the line? Drop a comment below and let me know what selfish behavior really grinds your gears.


By EIC Regina Burris