People Call Us Selfish to Guilt Us into Doing Things

So far we’ve discussed the meaning of “selfish” and the misconceptions surrounding it. Now let’s talk about how it can negatively impact our happiness and overall wellbeing.

Sometimes people guilt us into doing things we don’t want to do by calling us selfish. An example I gave in the previous post outlined parents guilting their children into careers the children do not want… let’s dissect.

If we go by the outdated and incorrect definition of the term selfish the child may feel defenseless. They are being called selfish; they think of selfishness as a bad thing. It can make them feel like they are a bad person for wanting to follow their dreams. The child may feel their only choice is to follow their parents’ wishes in order to not be selfish – to not be bad.

If we go by the true concept of selfishness the child has a better chance. The child has an opportunity to gain clarity in order to make a decision. By understanding that selfishness is an inherent human trait (and does not make the child a bad person) the child can ask the parent to elaborate on their stance. This way the child has a better understanding of how the parent feels and can work from there.

If the parent is concerned the child will not be happy, the child can reassure the parent that they are choosing something that will make them happy. If the parent thinks the child is being disrespectful or inconsiderate the child can reassure the parent they are respected. A person should pick their career and life path based on what will make them happy -not what will make their parent happy. A parent should not try to control their child and force them into a career they do not want. That is how we get depression.

People who call us selfish to guilt us into doing things may not know any better. It may be confusing for them when we do not play into the game that they have been taught to play. They may even get angry (secondary emotion to sadness) because they played the game and expected the same from you. Stay strong my friends.

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Selfish: Errbody’s Selfish

In a previous post we broke down the definition of selfish and how it is ridiculously misguided. Typically, when people discuss selfishness it is considered to be a negative trait of a particular person. This is untrue.

Humans are made to survive. We evolve. With that we need to do things in order to survive and evolve. We are internally programed to be selfish. Similar how we are programmed to eat when we are hungry or sleep when we are tired. We do things that make us feel good and those things are selfish. In society people think that doing charity work is selfless, but doing charity work (whether it is shared on social media or not) makes someone feel good they are helping the community – it is inherently selfish.

Literally (the true definition of the word) everything we do is selfish because everything we do results in us feeling one way or another. If we do not get the return we like then we change or pursue self-improvement in order change and get a result we want. This is selfishness.

Just because someone sacrifices their own needs for someone else does not make them selfless. Someone can be selfish and considerate. Someone selfish and inconsiderate. Everyone you have ever met in your entire life is/was selfish. We all have a drive to do things that make us feel good. Instead of being characterized by that drive we should be judged by what we do with that drive.

The concept of selfishness is very complex. We need to better understand the concept and its complexity in order to act accordingly. In the previous post I used real life examples of how we use our misguided definition of the word “selfish” to label certain acts as selfless/selfish when they are actually not.

There are certain severities in those acts that we should be able to point out. The person giving someone the right of way, while it can be annoying, is not that big of a deal and does not severely, negatively effect society. A parent (or anyone) guilting another person into doing something by shaming them and calling them selfish is something we need to acknowledge as being completely unacceptable.


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Selfish: Common Misconceptions Explained with Real Life Examples

Understanding the concept of selfishness, and how it is misunderstood, will help us correctly define the world around us and can help us defend ourselves when we are being wrongfully guilted into doing something we do not want to do.

Example 1: Consider a driver who decides to holds everyone else up to let someone who does not have the right of way go first. While this seems like a noble and truly selfless act it is actually inconsiderate, egotistical and unkind. The person who has the right of way, and who has decided to go against traffic laws in order to let another person go, is doing so in order to get personal gratification. It quenches their ego and makes them feel like a good person. It is inconsiderate of traffic laws and is unkind to the people they are holding up by not following the law. With the misconception of selfishness, one would think the person letting someone who does not have the right away go first is being selfless. We are giving credit where credit is not due.

Example 2: Parents want the best for their children. That is entirely understandable. A dedicated parent should be honored by society. However, a parent should not guilt their child into choosing who to marry or what career to take -or any life decision for that matter. It is sad to see many people feel guilted into career paths they do not want due to fear of being labeled as “selfish” in a derogatory form by their parents. While their parents make sacrifices in order to make the child succeed, that does not grant them the right to dictate how their child should live their life. Making sacrifices for others makes us feel good, it is selfish. Guilting another person into pursuing a career they do not want to pursue is despicable. Disowning a child because they do not pursue a career of their parents choice is so disgusting I cannot even think of a word for it.



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Selfish: We Have It All Wrong

To be selfish or “selfishness” is a natural trait that all humans share. It is the same having hunger, thirst, emotions, etc. Things that are commonly misunderstood to be selfishness or used as synonyms for the word selfish such as unkindness, egotism, introversion, or self-obsession are individual traits and it is important for us to know the difference.

While selfishness has become an all-encompassing term is if far from it. Thinking of it as anything but a natural trait harms us. It does not force us to critically analyze and consider the true nature of a situation. Understanding the concept of selfishness and what it truly means to be selfish gives us the power to determine how we can adequately respond in peculiar situations. It also helps us to defend ourselves from being bullied or guilted into doing things we do not want to do or making life choices we do not want to make.

We need to understand the true concept of selfishness so we can accurately gage our environment, relationships and connections with others. We need to be aware of those who call us selfish in order to try and stop us from doing things we enjoy or guilt us into doing things we do not enjoy. On the other hand, we also need to be diligent in calling people out for what they really are. Selfishness, as it is currently used is a very ambiguous term. If we are speaking to someone who is unkind and self-obsessed it is important for us to know the difference. We need to understand what we are actually dealing with.  

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Selfishness: Dissecting the Current Misguided Definition


The dictionary definition of the word “selfish” is completely incorrect. Let’s just dive right on in, shall we?

1. Not sure if this should be an adjective or not. On one hand it is an adjective, as it describes a trait of the human race. On the other hand, it is a noun because it identifies every living thing, or perhaps it is a verb since it describes every action we take? I need an English major! Let’s move on for now. 🙃

2. Nope. Nope. Nope. “Selfish” does not describe a person who is lacking consideration or only concerned with their own pleasure. Selfish is actually a characteristic of any living thing. We eat because we are hungry. We sleep when we are tired. We do things to keep ourselves alive and that make us happy because we are selfish. Even if someone goes hungry in order to feed their child, they are being selfish since their child eating makes them feel good.

3. No shit, Sherlock. Everything we do is selfish.

4. Again, nope. Nope. Nope. Saying these are synonyms is like saying that these traits are shared with every living being… slow down there slugger. It also makes selfishness seem like a negative concept. Selfishness is a naturally occurring trait in every living creature. If you are going to suggest it is bad, that is like saying everything is inherently bad -that’s really intense and not true… maybe go put on some emo music and black eyeliner and meet the fellas down at hot topic.

5. Seriously, this is ridiculous. There is no possible way to be selfless or unselfish. If someone does something for “unselfish” reasons they receive gratification and it is actually a selfish act… I am legitimately shocked we made it this far being THIS misguided, wow-za.


Up Next: Selfish: We Have It All Wrong


Redefining Selfishness

First, let me say that coming up with a new definition for a concept that is incorrectly used across an entire society is much more difficult than one may think. Second, let me tell you, the reason for this series is to outline that we (human kind) are using the term selfish incorrectly. While this may not seem like “that big of a deal,” let me tell ya, it is. Our misunderstanding of the concept of selfishness (and the definition of the word selfish) could be a contributing factor as to why millions of us have anxiety and depression. Any why the numbers just keep getting higher and higher. Sounds intense, I know. That is why it is so important to address.

In this series “Selfish” we are going to dive into the concept of selfishness, the literal meaning of the word selfish, how it is incorrectly defined and how that negatively contributes to our mental health and happiness. Is it really selfish to not have children? What makes someone more selfish than the other? Just how selfish are we really? Can someone really be selfless? Some of the questions answered in this new series regarding mental health, “Selfish.”

Up Next: Selfishness: Dissecting the Current Misguided Definition