I have done step work around my selfishness, dug through my issues, and have thrown a good portion of my selfishness in the garbage. However, there is still a little bit left. So I can still be a selfish person sometimes. Selfishness continues to be one of my defects of character.


To me, selfish means that I only care about me and what I want. What other people want, need, or feel is not an issue. It’s all about me.


So when could I be excessively concerned about myself, while not considering the well-being of others?

  1. When I get ticked off that the early morning lifeguard at the pool is late. In this instance, I am upset that my swim is going to get cut short because I have to get to work.
  2. When I’m behind someone slow, either in the car or in the checkout line at the store. Usually I’m in a hurry, either because I am running late, or I have somewhere else I would rather be.
  3. My inner critic accuses me of being selfish for not answering the phone when I’m in the middle of doing something else. I don’t have to listen to his lies. The truth is that letting the machine get the phone and calling the person back later is how I take care of myself. That’s not selfish.
  4. When I get ticked off inside at a child for quitting class. Deep down part of me is upset that they’re quitting because it will make my class numbers look low, which will make me look like a bad teacher. Maybe it’s actually in the best interest of the student to quit.
  5. When I rush past an elderly, struggling person, instead of holding the door for them or helping them. I used to do that, but I don’t anymore. I always try to help them.
  6. When a family emergency or event threatens to interrupt whatever it is that I wanted to be doing in my life. I usually obsess about this until the situation gets resolved.



Selfish or Practicing Self-Care?


Now I can look at the above list in two ways. I can look at it as if all of the items mark me as being selfish. I can also look at it like all of the items on the list are times when I just feel selfish. Or a third option is that it could be a little of each.


I think there’s a difference between actually being selfish and feeling selfish. In some instances, I probably am selfish. In some other instances, I’m just taking care of myself but I feel selfish. This is my codependency talking. As a young person, I was reprimanded for doing what I needed to do to take care of myself. So I learned that putting myself before others was wrong. So now whenever I put myself first, I feel selfish.


Let’s go through the six scenarios.






A Closer Look


  1. The pool issue: The opening time for the pool is supposed to be at 6:00 am, not 6:05, 6:15 or 6:30, but 6:00 o’clock in the morning. I don’t think that is me being selfish. I have to be at work at a certain time. If I’m late, people are waiting for me. Business is business.


  1. Slow people and the hurried Juliet: I think this is largely a patience problem that has already been addressed. I think this is an instance where most of the time I just feel selfish. I do wait in line with everyone else, even though inside I could be feeling incredibly impatient. I do usually drive safely even behind a slow driver, despite the fact that I’m trying to control the situation by whining and yelling inside the car.


If I’m obviously huffing and puffing in the line at a Cumberland Farms convenience store, that is probably not very nice of me. If I rudely cut in front of someone in line, that would be selfish. That would be me putting my well-being ahead of everyone else, no matter what. The other people are often in a hurry to get somewhere else too.


  1. The phone: Let’s say someone I know calls me, and they are in a bad way and really need a friend. If I don’t pick up the phone and talk to them, even though I have time, that is me being selfish. If, on the other hand, they’re calling at a late hour, when I’m working or busy, then by not answering, I am taking care of myself. Program is teaching me that I matter and I must take care of myself before I take care of others.


  1. Students quitting class: If a student stops taking my class and I’m upset because it makes my student roster look too small, that is me being selfish. I need to put the student’s well-being ahead of my own. If it’s better for the child to stop studying the instrument, then that’s what is most important. If I’m upset because they’re quitting and I feel it’s in their best interest to keep playing their instrument, then saying something is me looking out for them. That’s good. That is compassion and care.


  1. Rushing by those in need: If I rush by people who may need my assistance without helping them, that’s selfish of me. It only takes a minute to hold the door for someone. It only takes a minute to hold the door for someone and smile at them while you’re doing it. A few years ago, my sponsor gave me the assignment to smile and say hello to everyone I saw in the hallway. I still do that. It really helps me to feel happier.


  1. Schedule and priority conflicts: I think the scheduling and priority conflicts that we deal with in relation to our family of origin can be some of the toughest conflicts for anyone to face. I know they are for me. When a family crisis occurs, I think I need to do my best to be there for my family as much as I am able. But I don’t have to fix whatever it going on. Most of the time, I can’t fix it anyway. By crisis I mean someone is ill, has been in an accident, or has passed away. I’m sure more crises exist, but those are some amongst many that I’ve dealt with. I think what holds true here is exactly what holds true with the phone. If I’m able and available, I need to be there for my family. If, on the other hand, they are contacting me when I’m asleep, need to be working, or otherwise busy at something important, then by not answering the phone I’m taking care of myself.



As you can see, my selfishness is a defect of character that still needs some work. I need to focus my efforts on ridding myself of selfishness in regards to being behind slow people, whether I’m in line at the store, or behind a vehicle on the road. I need to work on my selfishness in regards to the pool schedule and its inconsistencies. Everyone is doing the best they can and I can go get on the treadmill if the pool is closed. I need to keep working on my selfishness in regards to schedule and priority conflicts. Sometimes there are things that are more important than what I am doing for myself. For example, if I’m supposed to meet someone somewhere and I keep them waiting because I want to finish what I’m working on (like a lesson plan or a section of this book, for example,), then that is selfish of me. When a student quits, I must remember to consider their needs and what is best for them above my own. The needs of the student are the most important thing. That is me letting go of selfishness.


I heard in a CoDA meeting that a person gets on their knees first thing in the morning and asks God to remove all selfishness from them for the day. What would that look like? I should do that.

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