Reverse Selfishness

Selfishness: having or showing concern only for yourself and not for the needs or feelings of others

If someone called you selfish you would probably be offended, right? I surely would! I pride myself on being empathetic and caring about others. I love to help others figure out their problems, it gives me a rush of accomplishment and a big old pat on the back.

Well this month I had some “Lightbulb Moments” about selfishness and realized that I am Reverse Selfish. Huh?! I wouldn’t say selfless or unselfish because I interpret those words in a positive way. Reverse Selfishness is putting all your time and energy into others and completely neglecting YOU. It means that caring for our own self is misinterpreted as selfishness. The worst part is Reverse Selfishness seems to be a very common trait.

From a visual review session with a mom who was having trouble finding time to meet her basic self care needs, to a truly inspiring one day event with the Women and Girls Foundation last week and most recently yesterday’s comment thread from Propelle’s Rock It Visibility Challenge – Reverse Selfishness is running rampant!

Crossroads Visual Notes -

Yes, apparently we (and that does include myself) think being able to brush our teeth before leaving the house is asking too much. Couldn’t we be putting those two minutes to something more productive?!

This month, I struggled with some serious resentment and anger towards my husband. Long story short…he was in a similar situation that I find myself in quite often and he handled it MUCH differently than I did. It took a few days of struggling with my feelings to realize I was misdirecting them – the arrow actually should have been pointing at me! I was angry and resentful at myself for not putting my passions and needs first and yet my husband had no troubles at all doing this. Could this possibly just be a female trait?

As I created Visual Notes during the Crossroads: Conference for Women last week, I heard one inspiring story after another. Lauren Morelli, a writer for Orange is the New Black, spoke of how she was such a pro at taking care of everyone else in her life that she forgot to take a good look at who she was and what she needed. Somehow she got hung up on the expectations of others. (Shocking, right?!)

Lauren Morelli visual notes -

So how do we stop this Reverse Selfishness? Lauren and several other women at the conference shared some lessons they learned such as:

  • Get to know who you are – take yourself out on a date
  • Build a support system – you need cheerleaders
  • Let go of perfection – its okay to get a B-
  • Move yourself to the top of the list
  • Recognize that Self Love is not Selfishness
  • Invest in yourself
  • Own your story

Crossroads Visual Notes2 -

I also wonder if this Reverse Selfishness somehow stems from core beliefs around our value or worth. An interesting point was brought up at the conference that we spend time, energy and money on taking care of our material possessions and yet rattle off excuses as to why we don’t have enough time or money to take care of ourselves. One of the Rock It members posted a comment stating “if she treated her friends like she treated herself, she wouldn’t have any friends.” Wow – gets you thinking more about where our priorities fall!

Closing Panel visual notes -

The good thing is I am aware (and now you are too) so now I just need to practice taking care of myself and shedding that Reverse Selfishness trait. With traces of spring popping up I think now is as good a time as any!

What about you? How do you avoid reverse selfishness? Do you think this is just a female trait?
Does anything resonate with you from the Crossroads visual notes?

4 thoughts on “Reverse Selfishness”

    • Thanks Emily! The thread on Rock It brought up so much of this. Although it is hard to hear soooo many others have the same problem, it is nice to have people who can relate and help each other break the bad habits.

  1. I love this post, Emily! I think this is something a lot of women deal with. I’ve been victim to this as well … but have learned to schedule in self-care and “me” time and now feel it’s a necessity … not a luxury.

    Where can you start prioritizing time for you? I challenge you to block off an hour a week. I know you can do it!

    • Thank you Kate! I have definitely been looking at my schedule to see where I can fit in time for ME. I have started by recognizing I need some sort of social interaction at least one time a week. So I have been incorporating that into my schedules, even if its just tea with a friend for 30 minutes. I like how you describe ME time as a necessity not a luxury – I have been guilty of that thinking. I appreciate all the support and accountability on this from both you and Emily! Thank you!


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