The power of sacred selfishness


According to, to be selfish is to be “devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others; characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself.”

Selfishness can be counterproductive.

Sheesh. No wonder most of us feel insulted when we’re called selfish.

But here’s the problem: If you don’t care for yourself, don’t tend to your own interests or welfare, don’t show concern for yourself, you’re actually setting yourself up for stress and failure.

Some of these negative consequences primarily affect your personal life:

This failure to care for yourself is a real double whammy, because it can also gravely hurt your business:

Not exactly a recipe for success, is it? So instead, why not consider exploring the concept of sacred selfishness?

 If you don’t value yourself, your prospects won’t, either.

Dr. Bud Harris is the author of Sacred Selfishness: A Guide for Living a Life of Substance. Dr. Harris makes an intriguing distinction when he says, “Sickly selfishness is self-serving, power-driven, and imposes its will on others, draining their energy. Sacred selfishness is valuing ourselves enough to develop into ‘authentic’ human beings, who give back vitality and hope to all around us.”

Interesting, isn’t it? Viewed from this perspective, you’re actually doing a disservice to your clients, family, friends, and self if you fail to place an appropriately high value on yourself.

What are some of the personal and professional benefits of acting from a position of sacred selfishness?


So does this concept make your head hurt? Does any phrase with the word “selfishness” in it appall you as all your old programming kicks in?

Or are you intrigued by the idea that you can serve yourself and others most effectively by practicing sacred selfishness? And, if so, do you have to add yet another item to your already bulging Too Much To Do list in order to start? If that’s what you’re wondering, maybe I can help.

My specialty is showing overwhelmed entrepreneurs how to dump the stuff that weighs them down instead of propelling them forward, then create and implement manageable action plans to get that important stuff done.

Might you be one of those entrepreneurs who experience enormous relief and a huge surge of energy by working with me? Maybe. Maybe not. But we’d be able to figure that out by spending just 30 or 40 minutes getting acquainted by phone. Whether our mutual decision is yes, no, or not now, we’re both sure to feel good about it.

If this sounds worth exploring, it’s easy to arrange our no-risk, no-charge, no-trauma, get-acquainted session. Just call me at 319-270-1214 or email me with “Yes, it IS about me!” in the subject line. Give me some times you have available; I’ll see what works in my schedule, and we’ll get started on that exploration.

(By the way, thanks to wonderferret for posting the “selfish” image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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10 Responses to The power of sacred selfishness

  1. Kelly says:

    I’m so glad you’re bringing this topic up…I wonder at what point in history us caring and desiring our own needs be fulfilled became selfish? The only way we can be all we are meant to be is to be sure and care for ourselves first! Trust me .. Exercise and “me” time makes me a better Mama…

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      We must have at some point gotten sucked into either/or thinking: Either you care for and about others or you care for and about yourself. But it seems to me most of us are good enough multi-taskers that we don’t have to choose between “them” and “me”. 🙂

      Congrats on modeling great self-care for your kids, Kelly!

  2. Kathy says:

    This is so true! I remember when I was growing up, most adults I knew didn’t really take care of their personal needs very well. Many of them served others until they were ready to drop, but when it came to their own stuff (like the little things you can do for yourself that just make you feel good), it just didn’t happen. People that did those kinds of things and worked on pleasing themselves were kind of considered selfish. I have often wondered why…life is supposed to FEEL good!

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      It’s curious, isn’t it, Kathy? We get messages that feeling good is okay for others, but not for us. Talk about double standards!

  3. If being selfish means being devoted to myself then I’m okay with it. Adding in the ‘regardless of anyone else’ that’s where things get sticky, right? There is a lot of judgement in that and SO many mixed messages from the media and our families of origin. Somehow burn-out had gotten in alignment with being a heroic thing and an excuse to be stuck in misery.

    As your post shows, a little self care goes a LONG way to making life a lot better for us and everyone around us.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Bonnie, years ago I heard the suggestion that we replace the word “selfish”, with all its negative definitions and connotations, with the word “selfING”. The idea was that coining a new word would make it easier to describe caring for yourself without hurting others in the process.

  4. I was told some years ago that if I behaved as selfishly as I thought was possible, I might be getting close to normal self care. LOL! I still haven’t reached that, but I keep working on it.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      Wow. That makes my head hurt, Louise. I think it’s because I’m still a ways from the ideal. Like you, though, I keep working on it. And at least I’m WAY better at caring for myself now than I was when I was younger. Progress!

  5. I love how you’ve differentiated between “sickly selfishness” and “sacred selfishness.” And this line particularly resonated with me: Always putting yourself last can lead to resentment of those whose needs you put before yours.

    For me, it’s easy to fall into the selfless martyr trap of doing too much for others and nothing for myself, but then being incredibly resentful about it. But in reality, no one asked for or expected a martyr.

    • Kathleen Mavity Kathleen says:

      “No one asked for or expected a martyr.” Ouch! I get to remind myself of that one, Lori. I suspect most of us are unlikely to run out of opportunities to take care of ourselves as much as we take care of others. Lucky us. 😐

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