Trans4mind Home Page
~ A Journey of Self-Discovery ~

Explore Article Library

Selfishness versus Self-Responsibility

By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.

One of the last things any of us want to be called is "selfish." We often end up doing things we don't want to do to avoid being seen as selfish. In my counseling work with people, I often hear the questions, "Aren't I being selfish if I take care of myself instead of take care of everyone else? Am I being selfish if I do what I want instead of what someone else wants me to do?"

The problem occurs because of an inaccurate definition of "selfish."

We are being selfish when:

  • We expect others to give themselves up for us.

  • We make others responsible for our feelings of pain and joy.

  • We get angry at others for doing what they want to do rather than doing what we want them to do.

  • We consistently make our own feelings, wants, needs and desires important without also considering others feelings, wants, needs and desires.

  • We believe we are entitled to special treatment, such as not having to wait in line.

We are being self-responsible when:

  • We take care of our own feeling, wants, desires and needs rather than expecting others to take care of us.

  • We support others in doing what brings them joy, even when they are not doing what we want them to do.

  • We show caring toward others for the joy it give us rather than out of fear, obligation, or guilt.

  • We have the courage to take loving action in our own behalf, even if someone gets angry with us. For example, we go to bed early because we are tired, even if our partner gets angry at us for not watching a movie with him or her.

  • We have the courage to speak our truth about what we will or will not do, and what we do or do not feel, rather than give ourselves up to avoid criticism, anger or rejection.

Giving ourselves up to avoid being called selfish is not self-responsible - it is manipulative and dishonest. When we give ourselves up to avoid criticism, we are trying to control how another feels about us.

Taking loving care of ourselves, with no intent to harm another is self-responsible. Yet we are often called "selfish when we take care of ourselves. For example, Tammy had signed up to take one of my weekend workshops and was really looking forward to it. She let her husband, Frank, and two children know weeks before the workshop that she was going, and that it was important to her. The day before the workshop Frank was given four great tickets to a basketball game. He wanted Tammy to go with him the next day, which was the first day of the workshop. When she said no, he got angry at her and told her she was selfish for doing what she wanted to do rather than spending the time with the family. Tammy came to the workshop with much to work on!

In reality, it was Frank who was being selfish in expecting Tammy to give herself up and do what he wanted her to do rather than what was really important to her. He was not caring at all about Tammy - he just wanted what he wanted. He felt entitled to be angry at her when she didn't give in to his demands.

For Tammy, this was a crazy-making situation. Being labeled as selfish when it is really Frank who was being selfish is crazy-making. Many of us grew up with parents who crazy-made us in this way - demanding that we give ourselves up for them and telling us we were selfish when we were actually taking responsibility for our own happiness and well being.

It is important for each of us to define selfishness and self-responsibility for ourselves so that we are not dependent upon others definition of us. When you become secure in knowing that you not only have the right, but the responsibility, to support your own joy and highest good - with no intent to harm another - then you will not be tempted to give yourself up when someone tells you that you are selfish for not doing what he or she wants you to do. When we are secure in knowing that our own intent is a loving one, we do not have to manipulate others into defining us as caring by giving ourselves up.

About The Author
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?" and "Healing Your Aloneness." She is the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now! Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: or Phone Sessions Available.


Careers & Employment
Grief & Loss
Kids & Teens
Public Speaking
Self Help
Self Improvement & Motivation
Sexual Relations
Stress Management
Travel and Leisure

From our extensive site, you'll find good info on many topics using this search:

Want to renew your life?

Our online, interactive video workshops present the most effective methods of holistic personal development...
Start off with a Free Life Assessment and a Free Consultation...

Have a question about Trans4mind Training?

Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Our Fees?
Email Peter Shepherd

Support your personal development with these popular and effective hypnosis downloads...

This is our selection of favorites, but there's a session for every need! Choose from over 800 Hypnosis Downloads...
Search now on an issue that interests or concerns you...

Welcome to the New Wave in Meditation Technology

Click here to learn more about the iAwake Profound Meditation Program
The iAwake Profound Meditation Program
is a way of enhancing your meditation practice, making meditation not only easier and more enjoyable, but also more efficient and effective.
Profound Meditation provides the smoothest, deepest, richest, most profound meditation experience available anywhere...
Here is a link to a free 20-minute track from iAwake Technologies - a sample of the type of tools that will deepen your meditation immediately and help you quickly become a successful meditator. It's the opening track of iAwake's flagship product, the Profound Meditation Program, called the iAwake Experience...
Learn More and Download the iAwake Experience
We think you'll find this technology a tremendous aid on your transformative journey of becoming your best and most creative self - and you can get started today!
And here's a fantastic resource for self-education...

The World of Inspiration eLibrary

World of Inspiration
A treasure trove of personal development wisdom

Step inside. Just like a real library, there are thousands of quality eBooks presented on three "floors" and in different "rooms." To purchase your $15 Lifetime Membership to the World of Inspiration eLibrary, click the following button:

Payment is made through our secure transaction agent, PayPal.
The transaction is in the language and currency of your choice.
"I want to just say 'WOW!' This collection is probably the best money I ever spent! I've already received many times over in personal enrichment after just 9 days. I've had a past metaphysical background, but even newcomers to this material will really benefit. Thanks again." ~ J.S. (Pennsylvania, USA)
"The collection is everything which you promised. And more! A superb contribution to the good of the world. Many thanks indeed." ~ R.P. (Georgia, USA)
"Just a short note of thanks for the library. I've only had membership for several days now but I already feel this is perhaps the most interesting compilation I have yet seen. Worth far more than the price of admission. The browser linked structure works well and makes it easy to manage such a large storehouse of information. It is rarely that I find something I like as much as this or that I feel strongly enough to write a note like this." ~ P.W. (Minnesota, USA)
Copyright © 1997-2016 Trans4mind Ltd