Selfishness and perfectionism: how we have it backwards and why we need to get it right

We have a lot of things backwards. Including our ideas behind perfectionism and selfishness. As it currently stands, perfection is desired and selfishness is seen as unfavorable or negative. To certain extremes, yes selfishness can be bad. However, selfishness is a natural human trait and there is not a single person who is not selfish.

When we think of someone who is selfish, we typical think of someone who only thinks of themselves and does not have consideration for others. Sounds legit. But we have it wrong. While it may be somewhat, technically correct, this ideation oversimplifies a complex topic. Selfishness has layers. There is negative and positive selfishness. Sometimes we need to be selfish, for instance, if we are giving too much of ourselves.

While we are rejecting selfishness – a natural human trait – we chase perfectionism. Perfectionism is not a human trait. It is unobtainable. When we chase perfectionism, we are like a cat chasing the red dot from a laser pointer – except it’s not funny or cute. Since perfectionism cannot be accomplished, when we chase it, we create inner turmoil. We reject who we are. How are we to love ourselves when we are rejecting who we naturally are?

When we reject our natural human trait (selfishness) we are in a sense rejecting a part of our being. Mix that in with chasing an unobtainable, inhuman trait (perfectionism), and we have the perfect recipe for depression and anxiety. Welcome to today’s world. Suicide rates have been increasing for 13 years in a row, and people are anxious and depressed more than ever. Everyone is still naturally selfish and STILL not a single one is perfect.  

We need to give ourselves some breathing room. Instead of trying to be perfect we need to focus on improving and being the best we can be. We need to work on not feeling bad for being positively selfish, and we need to watch out for those who are negatively selfish. No one is perfect – even if we think they are. We are all just trying to figure this out one day at a time.  

When we ditch the perfectionism and embrace positive selfishness, we allow ourselves to be who we truly are. We start to correct inner turmoil and reduce the mental noise. We remove guilt and we allow ourselves to breath. Take away the pressure, know that you are not perfect and that you are inherently selfish, so am I, so is every single person you’ve ever met and so was every single person who has ever lived.

Now go try something new, forgive yourself for a past mistake, be imperfect.

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