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Putting yourself first doesn’t mean you are selfish. Really.

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Selfish is often seen as a bad word — but it doesn’t need to be. Indeed, in our modern world, where downtime is dwindling, it probably shouldn’t be, either.

Selfishness can actually be good for you. For example, effective communication and self-care both flow directly from taking a more selfish view of the world.

We are not talking about being completely self-absorbed or self-centered, to the point that you exclude or disregard the opinions or emotions of the people around you. Rather, we are referring to balancing work, life, and well-being by putting yourself first over some everyday demands, many of which call for tireless devotion to any number of deadlines, duties, and deputy directors.

Here are some ideas and motivations for how and why to put yourself first, be more selfish, and in the process reclaim your happiness and personal satisfaction.

Become your own strongest ally

A more selfish outlook allows you to draw firmer boundaries around yourself, your time, and your activities. Setting boundaries is particularly important given that we are all online essentially all the time. We all know this about one another and are increasingly willing to disregard traditional boundaries about workload and work time.

For example, selfishness makes it easier to protect your time when your boss pings you after hours with a request. It makes it easier to politely decline an invitation to volunteer at your kid’s next swim meet — for the third time that month. The possibilities are endless, and that’s exactly the point.

It can be difficult beginning a campaign of self-advocacy, but once you get in the groove, it will become routine. True, some demands in life are non-negotiable, but many are. Being your own advocate arms you with the power of no, and that’s a powerful weapon indeed, as it will help you see more clearly what you do and don’t have the bandwidth or desire to take on.

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It improves health

Nothing is more stressful than living your life based on the whims of other people. Becoming comfortable with saying no, can help you rid yourself of unnecessary stress and provide you with the time and patience to become more present and productive for the things that really matter.

Stress can harm the body in any number of ways. Taking greater control of your stress and stressors is a huge step to feeling better and living your best life.

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It can improve relationships

Again, embracing an attitude of self-advocacy does not mean it’s OK to mistreat others or neglect or abuse your relationships, be they romantic, professional, or platonic. But just the right amount of selfishness can actually strengthen your bonds with those around you.

Making your needs a priority can also create healthy distance and serves as a reminder that you will not always accommodate every demand on your time or attention. By showing respect for yourself, you inspire — and require — others to respect you.

Choosing your time and your needs over those of others can feel uncomfortable at first, but can pay big dividends in the long run. Embracing self-care and self-advocacy will help you build a better work-life balance, and a life filled with things of your choosing. So remove selfishness from your library of curse words and make it a keystone of your effort to put more “you” in your life.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
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