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Selfish vs “Self-serving”

The idea of acting in a selfish manner has come up in my work in both a professional and personal context, both inwardly and outwardly. 

People sometimes criticise themselves or others for being selfish when they put their own interests above others’. 

Whether the thought of being selfish is aimed inwardly or out, it is a judgement.

How useful is it to have this thought? 

How true is it? Can you be certain that it is absolutely true? 

Inward selfish judgement

In my work with business people and solopreneurs, the feeling of being selfish often crops up when in the context of business and family. 

Entrepreneurs can catch themselves serving their own interests over their customers’ or stakeholders (sometimes they can’t even see that until we start working together).

Sometimes they feel selfish if they put their well-being before a spouse or children as that should come first. 

“I can’t meet my friends more than once a week because my wife would be upset…”

“I can’t go for a walk on my own when the kids need me to entertain them…”

When this arises, I challenge the idea (that’s all it is) of being selfish against self-serving. 

Being self-serving

Businessman meditation
Creating time for onself is beneficial for yourself and everyone else

Self-serving is a way of serving ourselves in order to serve others. 

I begin every single day self-serving through meditation, study and exercise. 

Those rare days that I skip this, leaves me feeling unprepared and less than optimal. 

(How do you think I show up for the rest of the day?)

This routine of self-cultivation nourishes me. 

Being nourished helps us to be able to nourish others. 

This doesn’t mean that you have to help yourself before helping others, rather, it’s a way that removes the judgement and recognises that being a better version of yourself will ultimately make an even better impact on others. 

So when you take time in your day to exercise, study, meditate or socialise, do not feel selfish because it’s time away from your work or family. It’s actually in service of the former because you will be showing up and contributing as your best. 

As we are often reminded when flying, “Place your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”

Selfishness is a judgement we perceive as negative and critical, causing conflict within us. 

Self-serving is a non-judgemental perspective that allows us expansion and possibility to contribute to others with even more impact. 


PS Whenever you are ready, here are 5 ways I can continue helping you;

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