There are times when you need to look out for yourself, and other times when you need to put other people, like your friends, first. It's a balance. Too much selfishness and you'll lack friends. Not enough, and you may act as a doormat.
There are times when we really put ourselves out there and it doesn't pay off, and other times when we are so blessed with people in our lives that we are glad we were able to be real with them in order to have them in our life. Most people continually struggle with the balance between protecting your own interests, and giving generously of your spirit. Sometimes it's an easy choice. Other times? Not so much.
No matter what you're dealing with, other people have probably experienced the same thing at one time or another. What better way to learn than by hearing what they have to say? Here are some quotes on selfishness that may help you figure out the balance you need to live an emotionally healthy life.
"As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind, so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision."
You'd think if anyone deserved the right to be selfish, it was Helen Keller. She was just 19 months old when she lost both her hearing and her sight. As a result she couldn't talk with others or tell people what she needed. She was difficult to manage emotionally as a child. That was until Annie Sullivan changed her life by teaching her to communicate.
This quote connects selfishness to complaint, and talks about the destructive force it can be when taken to an extreme. I'm sure this is a feeling that Keller no doubt felt very deeply in the days before her breakthrough in learning to communicate.
The second half of this quote sums up a life that appreciates joy. Quite simply, it "sharpens the vision" of our problems in life. Think about this a moment in terms of friendship. So often the relationships in our life are confusing. We don't understand why our friend is mad, why they can't see our side of things, or why they act as they do. Changing your focus can help you view your relationships in a new way, so that, like Heller herself, you respond differently.
"Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip."
On a much lighter note, Rogers reminds us that sometimes selfishness equals gossip. To be more selfless, make your friendship a safe place where you wouldn't be ashamed at having your friends know what you say about them when they aren’t around.
"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live."
You can still support a friend even when you don't agree with them. Just because you view life a certain way, it doesn't mean you should expect your friends to feel the same way. Having a variety of friends will help you connect with people who are different from you, which helps you grow as a person.
"Nothing resembles selfishness more closely than self-respect."
Sometimes you need to think of yourself first, like in the case of a toxic relationship, where you need time away to access the situation, or to just leave. If you walk away, your friend may call you selfish for "not wanting to work through things." But sometimes, there isn't any more you can do to mend a relationship.
It's a tough call, and a personal one. No one but you knows everything that went on in your relationship so you have to do what's right for you.
"Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure."
Leave it to Jane Austen to state the obvious in such a delightful way. If you know someone who is extremely selfish, you have a couple options. You can accept them as they are (and whatever your friendship ends up being), or you can walk away. Not every friendship needs to be extremely close in order for it to be valuable.