Selfishness is so naturally human. At one time or another, we have all ruthlessly strived to satisfy our own desires—some of us even at the expense of others. We must help our children avoid this habit; selfish people eventually grow into old, lonely misers who blame the world for their sad state-of-affairs—when in reality—they brought it all upon themselves.
Importance of Self Care
Self-care is NOT selfish; it enriches self without the risk of needlessly transgressing upon the welfare of others. Emotionally, financially, mentally, physically, and spiritually, we must take care of ourselves. We cannot serve others from an empty vessel.
Causes of Selfishness
From learned behavior to personality disorders, from unintelligence to incompetence, ignorance wraps people up in themselves and their deepest desires—neglecting or ignoring the needs of others—including and especially those closest to them.
Permissive parenting styles grant children free rein, limiting their ability to develop a character of unselfishness. When children constantly observe self-interested attitudes and behaviors in parents and other role models, they tend to emulate these selfish shortcomings, first, as children, and later, as adults.
We all have blind spots. We may not always recognize our shortcomings. Among humans, true, authentic, and accurate self-awareness is rare. According to studies conducted by American psychologist, Dr. Tasha Eurich, while 95% of people think they’re self-aware, only 10-15% truly are. With unbiased, honest self-reflection, we might better recognize whether the albatross of selfishness hangs from around our necks.
Some people are selfish in all relationships. Those people are called sociopaths. They are only concerned with their own hearts and don’t care if they break yours. If a “friend” doesn’t reciprocate mutual respect, honesty, and loyalty, consider moving on from the “friendship.” If you’re the forgiving type, very sincerely challenge them to act right. If their violation of trust was truly an out-of-character mistake, perhaps offer no more than one more chance. It’s safer to dodge a bullet than to take one in the heart.
Examples of Subtle Selfishness
Some people are disagreeable just for the sake of disagreeing; they enjoy spending time being angry at something. When the importance of our complaint matters more than what we are complaining about, we ostracize ourselves and burn bridges. Selfishness often looks down on others, relentlessly finding faults and flaws. If someone loves pointing out problems, THEY might be the problem.
Sometimes, we expect too much of others—and of ourselves. Do we hold ourselves and others to an impossibly high standard? This subtle form of selfishness ignores natural human limitations. If someone is doing their best, it’s best to not condemn them.
Folks who subscribe to a fixed mindset tend to reject constructive criticism, misinterpreting helpful feedback as disrespect. By resisting the truth or reacting with defensive rationalizations, growth is stunted. If the culprit is a teammate, the inadvertent but inherent selfishness of a fixed mindset can undermine the collective strength of his or her team.
Condemn the Sin, Not the Sinner
While it’s important to immediately quash our children’s selfish attitudes and behaviors, it can be just as important to carefully consider our approach. By condemning children for selfish behavior, they might perceive that we are labeling them.
Meanwhile, we cannot turn a blind eye or overlook concerns about our child’s selfish attitudes or behaviors; selfish tendencies might follow them into adolescence and even adulthood. As with many complex parenting challenges, mom is well-served to get on the same side of the negotiating table to address our child’s misguided selfishness to condemn the sin, but not the sinner.
Children crave praise. When they do something selfless, kind, generous, or when they are honest in admitting a mistake, acknowledge them. By showing genuine appreciation for the attitudes and behaviors we seek to instill, we encourage adoption of these good habits.
Our human interconnectedness provides great opportunities for personal growth, broader perspectives, and expansion of knowledge. Selfishness shuts down these wonderful gifts before they even see the light of day, leaving misguided souls traveling in the dark. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “Every man must decide whether he will walk into the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
“For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.” —James 3:16 NLT
Every morning a very large and very snappy crocodile shouts this selfish message: “Stay away from my river! It’s MY river! If you come in my river, I’ll eat you all!” The animals in the forest don’t know what to do. one day the creatures are woken by a loud groaning sound which turns out to be the selfish crocodile in a lot of pain, and the smallest of them all, a little mouse, finds a way to solve their snappy dilemma!
So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein. This moving parable for all ages offers a touching interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.
Pig is a greedy and selfish Pug. He has all the bouncy balls, bones, and chew toys a dog could ever want yet he refuses to share with his poor friend, Trevor. Little does he know, however, that being greedy has its consequences. Join Pig as he learns to share—the hard way! Young readers will love the irresistibly quirky and funny illustrations that are paired with a relatable lesson of learning to share with others.
The children always used to play in the Giant’s garden, but when he returned after years away, the Giant said, “What are you doing here? My own garden is my own garden. I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.” The Selfish Giant is one of the most beautiful stories in the English language.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Mothers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.