BECOME INCREDIBLY SELFISH
Without You, There Is Nothing
and Attraction Isn't Possible
Claim your own at any hazard.
-- WALT WHITMAN
From his cradle to his grave a man never does a single thing which has any first and foremost object but one: to secure peace of mind, spiritual comfort, for himself.
-- MARK TWAIN
Selfish. It's a little adjective that can carry a big load. In my old Webster's dictionary, selfish is defined as "caring unduly or supremely for oneself; regarding one's own comfort, advantage, etc., in disregard, or at the expense of, that of others."
But in my book, it's something else entirely. And it should be in your book, too. For the sake of your personal and professional success, you need to grasp a new way of viewing selfishness. Holding on to, and being ruled by, other people's definitions of selfishness have probably created a barrier that you'll need to break. Because fortune really does favor the brave, and the brave are guided by their own lights. This is just as true about small concerns as it is about larger ones. And you can strip out Webster's phrases about disregard of others, and operating at the expense of others. Selfishness, as defined for our purposes, ultimately allows you to be more generous and supportive of others than you have ever been before.
DISTINCTIONS TO DRAW
Selfish vs. Needy -- Selfishness is a choice. Neediness means you're driven by unmet needs, without choice.
Selfishness vs. Selfulness -- Selfulness means filling up your soul and your self from the inside. It's a good term to use if you're afraid of selfishness.
You vs. Your Roles -- You are distinct from your roles. Selfulness often requires abandoning or restructuring of roles, so there's room to grow.
Need vs. Want -- A need is something required to be yourself, fully at your best. A want just provides gratification, usually temporary. Both are terrific. Needs are more important.
Wants vs. Shoulds -- A want is something you selfishly acquire because it makes you feel good. Wants can be very healthy and motivating. A should is something you believe you must do, or suffer consequences. Shoulds generally slow your development.
Generosity As A By-Product vs. Generosity As A Focus -- Selfishness makes you more generous, on a sustaining basis. Lack of selfishness makes generosity too costly to you, your life, and those around you.
Joy vs. Pleasure -- Joy is intellectual excitement, emotional involvement, and physical pleasure combined. Pleasure is mostly physical.
How to know you're making progress with this principle
- You're able to put yourself first.
- You attract others who already know how to be selfish.
- You may find that you need less from others.
- You embrace the notion that "if it's good for me, it's probably going to benefit others."
- You feel more independent, less "pulled" by your roles.
- You find yourself being a lot more generous, because you can afford to be.
- You get a lot more of what you want, more often.
Now, here's how to go about updating your view:
TOP 10 WAYS TO BECOME INCREDIBLY SELFISH
1. Selfishness Used To Have A Bad Name; Now It's Developing A Good Name.
When humans were tribal, survival meant common food-gathering, common defense. An overly individualistic member of the tribe, one who dared to be selfish, was a legitimate risk.
This was true for perhaps the first 90 percent of human history. Our ancestors foraged for wild plants, hunted wild animals, migrated with herds or in response to changing seasons. They had to watch each other's backs and depend on the best hunters to feed as many of the less lucky as they could on a day-by-day basis. This is still true of some remote cultures today. And in such cultures, getting singled out is the worst possible fate.
Things began to change a little bit with the development of crop cultivation, and then much more with the rise of cities. As humans became more civilized, some became specialists. They needed, for everyone's ultimate benefit, to be liberated from hunting and farming tasks. In effect, they could afford to become more selfish. Now, not only can we afford selfishness, it's a necessary trait for all those who want to take themselves, and the tribe of humanity as a whole, to higher, more evolved levels. Selfishness -- along with the specialization and talent-development it makes possibleis a cornerstone of progress, for individuals and for society.
Creativity and excellence require selfishness. So does evolution. When you know you're onto something -- a potential breakthrough of any kind -- you need the purest kind of focus and concentration possible. You need to answer to the callings of your heart and mind before you answer to the callings of the tribe. You need to accept that a reasonable and responsible level of selfishness builds long-term benefits for everyone you care about.
2. Know What You Want And Say So.
This is great for you, and possibly even more so for all the people around you. Everybody wants something from every personal interchange, whether in a school, in a corporate boardroom, or around a ping-pong table. Social settings are about interchange. People look constantly, instinctively, for clues about how to deal with you -- in your facial expressions, your voice, your posture, even in the way you breathe, not to mention in the words you speak.
When you've clearly communicated who you are and what you want, people can relax. They're drawn to someone who is self-secure, who knows what they want and what they expect to occur. Knowing what you want and saying so is attractive. And it boosts the odds that you will get what you want.
An urgent need-to-know underlies every human contact, from romantic to familial, from play to business. Is the person you are with for real, or just playing some kind of role? How deep is he or she? What will it take to win full effort, full commitment? What kind of ethical code is at work, if any? What hidden agendas are coming up from the bottom, like submarines to the ocean surface?
People want the answers to those questions, and many more, whenever they interact with you. Never leave them foggy, with unresolved ideas about who you are and where you stand. And you deserve plenty of clarity from the people in your life. So ask any questions you want to.
True, being that direct may turn some folks off. But usually those are insecure, vague, indecisive people who -- until they finally become more self-secure -- are likely to waste big chunks of your time.
One of my clients owns a very profitable business, with a sizeable number of employees. She was constantly frustrated by one of her managers: He had given many years of good service, but had gradually taken an "on-the-job retirement." She had hopes of turning his performance around, but everyone's morale was on the decline as they waited for him to get back on track.
As soon as she grasped that selfishness is good, she let him go. She still felt a little lingering guilt, though, so a few weeks afterward she checked in with him, expecting he'd need some propping up. To her surprise, he said that he'd been going downhill at a fast rate without realizing it, but was feeling great now and very happy about getting on with his life.
When my client wasn't selfish enough, every option looked like lose/lose. As soon as she embraced selfishness, the situation turned out to be win/win.
3. Selfishness Is Usually The First Step To Getting Your Needs Met And Building A Reserve.
Becoming selfish is not really a lifetime ambition. There's no real point of glory in becoming the most selfish person in the world. However, becoming selfish can get you started on a great path -- having all that you need and then building a matching reserve. Reserves are a key to becoming irresistibly attractive.
Very, very few people experience having all they need in all areas -- time, money, space, opportunities, network, love -- so you probably haven't yet observed many good role models in your own life. But having that much is quite possible and definitely desirable. Selfishness and the reserves it will build afford no-strings-attached generosity.
4. When You Become Truly Selfish, You'll Have The Extra Reserves Needed To Really Care About -- And Be Generous With -- Others.
Being selfish does not mean being a jerk. It doesn't mean being pitiless, cold-hearted, unwilling to help lift less fortunate people out of their circumstances. It does mean building yourself a base that will give you the power to be generous -- without the burnout syndrome that plagues so many people with good-hearted intentions.
Tremendous numbers of people in this world are struggling and drowning in adversities of many kinds. You can help them by being a lighthouse on a solid foundation; you can help them by jumping into the waves with a buoyancy vest and lifeline to the shore. But you can't help them if you yourself go under.
They say that when one is totally taken care of, his or her "cup runneth
over." When this becomes true of you and your life, you'll have extra
resources, superreserves that others can freely take advantage of without
any risk to you. And you'll have clear, solid boundaries that won't allow
anyone to take too much.
5. Stop Hanging Around Folks Who Abhor Selfishness.
People who build their identity on trying to "do good" all of the time, or who try to "evolve" beyond their "ego," are usually drainers. Why? Because it takes a lot of ego to pretend you're above having an ego -- and a lot of energy to keep up that kind of pretense.
Guess who that energy is going to come from? The people they are "serving"?
Who's serving whom? That's the question to ask.
Those who really do a lot of good also get a lot of joy from what they do. It's good for their hearts and their souls, and they know it. When you can truly afford to do "good works," you're being selfish in the best possible way. Those who are too, too noble -- and who let you know it -- are on ego trips. If you spend time with them, you'll find yourself paying for their tickets.
6. Unhook Yourself From The Negative Connotations Of Being Very Selfish.
Selfishness certainly can include egocentricity or insensitivity. But that doesn't make those three words synonymous. They truly are not.
Egocentricity means you think only about yourself or feel that the world revolves around you. Insensitivity means you have no heart; you just don't care about others.
But you can be extremely selfish and still be neither egocentric nor insensitive. Really! Most of us have to overcome some of our social conditioning before we can feel good about being selfish. It's worth the effort.
Sally is like many people who give themselves away -- sweet, quiet, not wanting to confront anyone, carrying the burden of responsibility for everyone else. If a co-worker got mad, she would apologize whether it was her fault or not.
Through her selflessness, Sally blocked herself off. All of her friendships and relationships had become burdensome, so demanding that she had gradually cut herself off from everyone except people she worked with. She came to a terrific coach named Bobbi Gemma because she was feeling burned out by her job, yet she was getting close to qualifying for a great retirement package after serving twenty-plus years in a large corporation, in various sales-related positions. She needed guidance: "Do I stay on this job, and, if so, how do I make it palatable until I hit retirement?"
Bobbi used diagnostic tests to help Sally understand her own behavioral and communication styles. It was an eye-opener, and from that awareness she became ready and willing to start creating boundaries. Like most people, she had been unaware that you can let people know what behavior you will allow them to display in your presence, no matter the relationship or the extent of the boundary you feel is necessary.
Once Sally began putting some of those pieces in place, unexpected types of people suddenly started showing up in her life -- people who brought opportunities for creating relationships of some depth, people able to give her guidance and teach her things. They came because she was sure, internally, of who she was and what she wanted, and because she lightened up on herself enough to regain the terrific sense of humor that had been suppressed for a long time. Becoming incredibly selfish brought back her enjoyment of life and of herself.
Now, because she is more fun, she effortlessly attracts more joy and pleasure in her life.
7. Spend The Next Seven Days Doing Something Very, Very Selfish Each Day.
So you're having difficulty feeling good about being incredibly selfish? It's time to go on a scavenger hunt!
Make a list of seven things you really want but haven't been able to let yourself have. It really doesn't matter whether they're tangible or intangible.
First, decide that you deserve them. Second, go grab them, one item a day every day, for seven days in a row!
The trick (assuming you won't act counterproductively and mess up your finances) is to quickly obtain what you feel you want or need instead of waiting, thinking a lot about it, weighing the pros and cons until you've talked yourself out of what you desire.
The payoff: You'll develop a warm and positive feeling about how good you can be to yourself. You'll develop the right kind of selfishness, the kind that isn't driven by caprice or by unfulfilled needs but rather by the very practical wish to be good to yourself on a consistent, top-to-bottom, whole-system level.
In most sports, players who stop to think too much about what to do next will soon wish they hadn't. Opportunities blow by those players and vanish. Make this Attraction Principle into a sport. Let the game flow, unhindered, so it becomes beautiful to watch. Allow yourself a new and higher standard of self-regard.
8. Say No, Just Because You Feel Like It.
Selfishness is a muscle that needs developing. For many people, the easiest place to start is by saying no.
If you have a hard time saying no, get a coach to show you how and to encourage you to say no easily. Saying no trips lots of people up, but it is a learnable skill and pays dividends for a lifetime.
No, in fact, is a beautiful word. And powerful. It's the bedrock for strong boundaries, a topic we'll eventually discuss in greater detail.
Some singing instructors actually advise saying no as a means of locating your best and strongest tones. Try it. Say it, wait two or three beats, then repeat it. Doesn't it feel good? Don't you like how your voice sounds? Practice it some more. Now imagine how good it will feel when you say no to someone who -- whether intentionally or not -- is trying to take advantage of you or is wasting your time. Little kids often go through a phase where "no" is their favorite word. That's because it gives them such a definite sense of self. It will do the same for you. And it doesn't cost anything. (It saves you plenty, though.)
Most grown-ups need to rediscover some of what they knew when they were kids.
9. The Real Value Of Becoming Selfish Is To Give Your Gifts Room To Develop.
Gifts and talents are rare, wonderful, and valuable. You undoubtedly have some, whether or not you've focused on them yet in your life. (Going through a cookie-cutter educational system, or experiencing a nonencouraging parenting style, often disconnects people from awareness of their gifts and talents. Among other things, these Principles of Attraction will make your connection stronger than ever before.)
Those gifts deserve and need nourishment; they won't blossom fully without it. Maybe it's still hard for you to be selfish for your own sake. If you've got a special talent or gift -- and most of us do -- become selfish if only for its sake. Be a good servant of your gifts. Create a setting in which they can flourish, so both you and other people can enjoy, benefit, and profit from them.
Without busting your budget, go ahead and grant yourself whatever amenities you'd grant a winner. Treating yourself well is a powerful strategy.
10. Take What You Feel You Need, Even If It Seems That Others Won't Get As Much.
Scarcity can be made to vanish. When you treat yourself to whatever you'd want to give the person you love most, others in your life will adapt, and even be glad. As you become more solid as a person, they'll have a greater sense of (a) the importance of carrying their own weight and (b) being able to count on you if the chips are ever down.
Just as they did for Sally, win/win situations will start popping up for you like flowers after a spring rain.
Carole, a wonderful young woman now breaking into the coaching field, applied selfishness to her private life and proved the point. Her job with a multimillion-dollar shipping firm involves coordinating the schedules and efforts of many different people. Her private life includes the fact that she and her fiancé just recently moved in together.
When that happened, the extra time they spent together took away from the time she had previously spent on fitness. Extra pounds started to show up. So Carole made a selfish decision: To give herself time for jogging in the morning, she started going to bed at nine o'clock. She asked her fiancé to do the same, even if he opted to get up again before going to sleep. How did it turn out? Great for everyone concerned, including Cupid.
Carole's selfishness created a structure in an area that many people have difficulty even talking about. Pretty soon her fiancé started joining her for morning jogs, creating even more shared experience.
Think for a minute. Haven't you known interpersonal problems that could've vanished if everyone involved felt entitled to be definite and totally clear about what they wanted -- instead of waiting for hurt to accumulate? That's how selfishness deflects disappointment while it draws success.
Without selfishness, you just can't attract life's best offerings.
To be selfish in the best possible sense, adopt the concept of extreme selfcare.
Living in today's world places many demands on your body, mind, heart, and spirit. The purpose of extreme self-care is to create a positively selfish focus on balance, well-being, and quality of life.
I started thinking this way almost five years ago, but I didn't make a total commitment to the concept until late in 1996 -- after the rewarding but physically, spiritually, and emotionally intense experience of building up Coach University to be the world leader in virtual instruction. It was an exciting accomplishment, but it also left me feeling out of balance.
The key word here is extreme. Self-care always sounded like a good idea, but I couldn't get interested in it until I could picture how to make a comprehensive and (for me) radical change. During the transition, I was supported by no fewer than ten health-care professionals, including a physician, a coach, a nutritionist, a therapist, and a Rolfer (deep-tissue massage specialist).
Everyone has his or her own way of manifesting extreme self-care, so please adapt these suggestions to meet your needs. Some of them may strike you as too extreme right now. But, then, your sense of what's possible for you to attain is going to grow tremendously. So don't be concerned, and just give extreme self-care a second look after you've completed this book. By then you may find yourself much more comfortable with the notion of reaching for the best. For now, it's okay if you want to view this section as just a glimpse at where you're headed.
The areas you should focus on are
- Stress elimination
- Environment and family
- Support and experts
- Daily rituals
- Special-care items
1. Stress Elimination
Note that we're saying stress elimination, not stress reduction. If you focus on stress elimination, then, at the very least, you will achieve stress reduction. If you focus only on stress reduction, you may not get enough benefit to make a difference.
- If your job, business, or profession is harming you and you can' t seem to make it completely stress-free, either quit, sell it, or change professions.
- Make a list of ten promises you have made to others that are causing you stress, even if it's stress that you can handle. Revoke all ten of these promises and work out alternatives with the promisees.
- Identify the three sources (people, roles, expectations of others) of your current stress. Completely eliminate these three items.
- Get a house cleaner.
- Have your errands run by someone else.
- Arrange to have all bills, paper, and administrative tasks handled electronically or by an assistant who handles everything automatically.
- Completely resolve any legal, tax, or financial clouds or problems.
2. Environment And Family
We are all products of our environments. But we have the option of designing and adapting our environments to best serve us.
- Revamp your home environment to make it more restful and nurturing. Be fully aware of every aspect of your physical environment and draw energy from it. Fully respond to your environment. If something goes wrong, instantly learn from the experience and grow. If you don't like something, fix it now.
- Back up your computer weekly.
- Your spouse, your children, your partnerships, your friendships, and your pets should all add energy to your life. If they do not, pursue counseling.
- Tolerate absolutely no clutter or messes in or around your house.
- Have everything in your home and office fully and properly organized and filed. (Everything!)
You know what makes you feel great, so please write down your top ten favorite personal, whimsical, intellectual, and entertainment pleasures below.
Now, for each item listed above, conceive of at least three different ways to put more of each in your life.
Some of the following steps toward physical and emotional well-being will require using health-care professionals, but there's no better investment you can make. It isn't indulgence; it's a healthy respect for maintenance of a key asset: you. Greater well-being pays off in smoother, more easily sustained performance.
- Give up the future; live in the here and now, and do not chase anything.
- Have a complete physical exam every one to three years.
- Have a complete blood testing workup and discuss the results with a licensed nutritionist.
- Exercise daily for at least thirty minutes, even if you must hire a trainer to keep yourself on track.
- If you react inappropriately to others or to problems, get to the source of the emotional reaction.
- Cultivate excellent posture, move naturally, and keep your body well balanced and integrated through yoga or through the services of a trainer.
- If you find it difficult to eat nutritionally correct meals, arrange for prepared food to be delivered twice weekly.
- Be totally free of adrenalized behavior.
- Arrange to be lovingly touched or held several times per week, each time for as long as you need it. Arrange for frequent massages.
- Know what motivates you.
5. Support And Experts
Extreme self-care is made possible by the investment you make in all areas of your life, including the investment you make in the services of experts.
- Work with a personal coach who has a track record of helping others practice extreme self-care and who is a terrific example of the benefits of this program.
- Work with a chiropractor or other bodywork specialist who can remove any energy blocks.
- In addition to regular massage, learn about Rolfing or other deep-tissue bodywork.
- If needed or beneficial, enter therapy with an expert in your area of primary concern.
- Go to a dermatologist and have the skin on every part of your body thoroughly examined.
- Develop a supportive relationship with what you consider to be God, or the Divine Force (or whatever is equivalent for you).
- Be a source of unconditional support and love for a friend or family member and draw on their unconditional support and love in return.
- If you have money concerns or problems, work them out completely, using an expert or team of experts.
- Build a Rolodex of several well-recommended experts that you can call on for assistance, from attorneys to tree surgeons, from accountants to psychiatrists.
Open mouth, insert extreme self-care.
- Drink at least a half gallon of spring water each day.
- Take a timed-release vitamin C (500-1,000mg) daily, if recommended.
- Take a nutritionist-recommended multivitamin daily.
- Do not smoke. Drink alcohol only very rarely (if at all).
- Do not use caffeine or sugar.
- Eliminate most meat and dairy products (if medically appropriate for you) from your diet.
- Treat your body as the temple that it is.
Extreme self-care applies to the outer as well as the inner you. As Oscar Wilde said, it is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.
- Toss every single article of clothing that does not make you look great. Replace them with clothing in colors that flatter your skin tone.
- Have your hair styled and/or colored exactly as you most like it.
- Have your nails professionally manicured.
- If you want or need hair removed, see a licensed electrolysis expert.
- Have (or give yourself) facials at least monthly.
- Wear only great shoes.
- Keep your body in excellent shape, toned and exercised regularly.
- Keep your teeth looking great, and smile broadly at every opportunity.
Part of extreme self-care is to integrate the changes that you are making. They should become natural behavior for you, not just a temporary effort.
- Restructure your finances (cut expenses, increase income) so that you have absolutely no financial concerns and money does not drive your decisions.
- Work through all of your parental and sibling issues in therapy so you won't be blindly guided by the past.
- Resolve and heal from whatever damage was done to you prior to today. Learn to say no easily.
- Know what your strengths are. Install support systems to do for you what you can't, won't, or don't do for yourself.
9. Daily Rituals
Extreme self-care is a daily process, not just a one-time program.
- Stretch daily.
- Have a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual (reading, music, touch, etc.) so you fall asleep with a smile on your face.
- Floss well, twice daily.
- Have a waking-up routine that's nourishing and deliberate.
- Make sure that your days are spent doing what you most want to do, not what you should be doing or what others expect of you.
- Underpromise consistently -- don't get caught in the trap of overperforming to catch up.
- Each evening have something wonderful to look forward to.
- Have a specially identified time in your schedule just for yourself.
- Stay in touch with yourself and your feelings throughout the day.
10. SPECIAL-CARE ITEMS
On the lines below, please write in the special needs or wants that you have that you haven't seen elsewhere in the program. Use your imagination and, of course, be very specific.
Copyright © 1998 by Thomas Leonard
Stop Chasing Success and Let It Chase You
The 28 Laws of Attraction
Stop Chasing Success and Let It Chase You
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