Be Healthy Selfish
I was coaching a client a few years ago and I said to him, "You just have to be healthy selfish. Surround yourself with who you want to be surrounded by. Don't eat at a certain restaurant to accommodate anyone. Don't say yes when you feel no. Don't do what you think anyone wants you to do to give them what they want. Be healthy selfish. I'm serious. You aren't doing anyone any good by giving them what they want."
He stared at me after I said that and slowly replied, "That's great. It really is. Good catchphrase. You need to trademark that. Highly impractical, but super. I like the idea, but it's not something I can do in my daily life. It's, well, selfish."
Ever since then I've said that to nearly all of my clients and they all resonate with it for the very same reason I resonated with it: it's power and scary. The truth always is.
I was just reading this article about a University Professor who issued a very strong statement to his student body that said, essentially, the world does not revolve about them and that they have no right to judge anyone else, even if that opinion counters their own, very firmly held beliefs.
The President's half right. No one does have a right to judge anyone else or push against them or tell them what to do, and not because it's the wrong thing to do, but because it causes the person who is doing the pushing to feel like shit, and when we feel like shit, we act and decide and are this other person we don't want to be. It's when we become bitter, and say the wrong thing and lose touch with our gut impulse.
People feeling their in the right by pointing out whose in the wrong is a really popular way of behaving. You only have to look at the comments section of any prevalent website to see the endless indignation going on.
It's never going to end. People are going to go on and on and on about this Presidential candidate or this new law or this popular singer. Okay. Good for them. Let them. Doesn't mean you have to. Why?
Because it makes you as guilty as the person you are trying to educate. So just stop. Live you life. Let others do what they do. Why? FOR YOU.
Do you really think those other people are going to listen to you? No. Do I think if you're reading this and you're the kind of person who feels that injustices must be exposed so you rant and rave about others dumb, fucking way of thinking that you're going to listen to me when I suggest you just mind your own business? Hell no. You're going to feel anger and rage and I'll annoy you and you'll say we can't be apathetic and we must help refugees and and and...
And and and.
What the President got wrong is that the world does indeed revolve around each and every student in the University. It revolves around everyone. You. Me. Your boss. Your client. Your best friend. Every person is the focal attention of their own needs and desires. End of story.
And the reason is we can't focus on what is going wrong in the world and feel good in the end, and feeling good about ourselves and improving ourselves from that feeling is the only way to affect true change in the world.
So what is the fine line between being healthy selfish and being a self-serving asshole?
I'm going to tell you what it is and it's going to sound super simple and reductive, but the truth always is super simple and reductive, we simply don't trust it. We like to over complicate everything so that it justifies more meetings and charts and graphs, instead of deepening our understanding of the core truths we all hear and know.
Feelings. It's learning to listen to your feelings.
I sound like Obi-Wan Kanobi, but you know I'm right.
Now, before you turn me off and go back to your Crackberry and answer six million emails and deal with your accountant and broker or casting agent or manager or nanny please hear me out.
Our feelings are the only true barometer any of us have at our disposal any time of the day to know if what we are doing and saying is in alignment with what we truly want, or what we think others want of us.
We all get so caught up in the moment, and so obsessed with not being present and focus on how we feel at any given moment, we keep looking outsides of ourselves for signs and signals from others as to how to be of service or how to help others, when the only way we can help others is by being of service our selves first, and then (and only then), can we offer any support or guidance or inspiration to anyone in any form that will help them.
And why are we doing that?
Because being healthy selfish is one of the surest paths I've ever come to know to find genuine happiness and success. I've seen it thousands of times and I'll continue to see it thousands of times again.
There is no 'i' in 'team' for a very good reason and it's not because it's the right way to be, but because it's how others want us to be.
It's not narcissism, it's not arrogance, it's not self-sanctimonious, but it's sure as hell the path to a happier life.