Are You Accused Of Being Selfish?

A couple of years ago a woman who was accused of being selfish by her fiancé came to my office. She had helped put him through medical school, cooked, cleaned and sacrificed much, even staying home on weekends most nights, in order to allow her fiancé the luxury of a greatly stress-reduced existence.  She felt guilty because some evenings she wanted to go to the movies or a play with friends, and her guy seemed to resent it when she spent her time and money on herself.  She was getting annoyed because each time she tried to explain how difficult it was for her to be in charge of nearly everything except his studying, he interrupted her saying she couldn’t possibly understand how difficult his own life was.  Whenever she started to defend herself she heard the voice of her inner critic (born of her mother’s voice) telling her she should put the needs of others before her own.

She was raised to be thoughtful, and to make sure nobody was uncomfortable about anything she said or did.  Like that’s even possible, right?

I’m here to tell you there’s a huge difference between taking care of one’s own needs and being selfish.  Yes, we all must be considerate of others, but certainly not continually self-sacrificing.  Don’t allow your relationships to kill the YOU in you.  Sometimes people who know that calling you selfish will push your shrinking violet button will do so to manipulate getting what they want.  Because THEY are selfish they project that onto you.  

If a family member or friend is unwilling to take your concerns about feeling overburdened or resentful because of his or her demands on you, keep this in mind:

  1. If you don’t tell them how you feel, they’ll never know and their behavior won’t change. Give people the chance to honor your feelings by expressing them.
  2. Some people will take advantage of your misguided “niceness,” or guilt.
  3. We are not on this planet to give over our lives to those of others who think they are somehow entitled to have their needs met. 

Your first need is taking care of  you.  It’s your first responsibility—even if you have kids.  If you’re not happy, they won’t be either.

Reciprocity


Do you entertain often?  If so, do the people you entertain reciprocate? If not, you may be feeling like I felt the other day.   

I have friends who tend to do things together.  Since my home is conducive to entertaining and I enjoy everything from setting the table to  cooking the meal, I frequently host dinner parties and gatherings.  Many of the same people are invited over and over again, but some never reciprocate.

A couple of weeks ago I told a friend it was her turn to invite me.  She answered by saying she was too embarrassed to do so because she has a small apartment; too small for any sort of gathering. She felt she couldn’t entertain in a way that would  compare to the way I do.  I suggested that she take me out to lunch, a picnic at the beach, a movie, or make any other gesture of reciprocation.  I told her I was starting to get resentful and didn’t want anything to interfere with our friendship. To her great credit, she thanked me for my candor and invited me to lunch the following week.

Friends of mine who own restaurants tell me that nobody invites them anywhere because their friends find it intimidating to entertain those who are so good at it. If you’re someone who doesn’t reciprocate for similar reasons, invite the people who invite you—somewhere.  Believe me, they just want to be invited.  Nobody’s comparing except you.

If there are people who never reciprocate and it’s bothering you, it’s okay to tell them how you feel about it.  If you don’t speak up you’ll either continue to invite them, albeit grudgingly, or your friendship will eventually end.

When you really care about sustaining a friendship you have to be vulnerable enough to share what’s bothering you, even if you think it may sound petty.  Come from, “I feel…,” rather than, “You made me feel…”  Nobody can MAKE you feel any way unless you allow it.

I can relate to that.
A blog by Dr. Linda Burd Howard.



Dr. Linda Burd Howard earned her doctorate in psychology from Yeshiva University in New York. She has had private practices in New York City, Long Island, N.Y., and Boca Raton, Florida.

Dr. Howard now resides in Boca Raton, Florida.




Wouldn’t it be great if you could go out and buy a magic wand to wave over your problems? Dr. Linda Howard’s toolbox is your magic wand, filled to the brim with essential tools for living collected over a lifetime of challenges including depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia, multiple divorces, drug addiction and a bipolar husband whose sudden suicide left the family stunned and nearly destroyed their children.

What makes this author amazing is that she’s managed to use each and every challenge to accomplish a transformation that shows in her everyday joy in living. The reader feels an immediate connection as she shares what professional psychologists rarely do: her uncensored thoughts, feelings and experiences. I Can Relate To That! Is a personal guide for your own life journey. Dr. Howard captivates you with wisdom, insights, humor, and remarkably simple fixes for life’s challenges, sharing the lessons she learned and the specific tools that turned her own life around. Her self-help tools will become your jewels faster than you can say, I Can Relate To That!