I like the term self-care.
This is the idea that some acts that we do for ourselves are for the purposes of caring for our own self. It’s not selfish when it’s self-care because it’s… sensible.
For example, as a mother you have to feed and wash yourself, which takes resources away from your poor little children; but if you die from not taking care of yourself, it benefits none of them. Survival.
I do believe sometimes acts which might be regarded objectively as selfish can be “self-care”. For example, if a man is particularly stressed and fucked off with his married life, having sex with someone that makes him feel really good about himself could be argued an act of self-care. The loving partner (if they found out) might argue on the side of selfish cunt, but it all comes down to how thick the lock is that you are splitting.
So, here is a little logic loop that I just got found in my cognitions: I may have taken this self-care logic loop to extremes.
On my personal internal balance-sheet, all kinds of things get written off to “self-care”, so my selfish gene gets weighed in on my view of myself as very skinny.
(It is possible that the more inherently selfish one is, the more likely one is to fiddle the self esteem books. But this is another topic.)
Here, I want to segue to distinguish between selfishness, and what I think of as “self-centredness”.
I think self -centredness is the result of a lack of empathy; whereas selfishness is the result of a lack of compassion (ie a failure to act for the benefit of others based on your empathy).
(As an example: in a zombie apocalypse, I might be hungry, so I don’t notice other people are also trying to get food; I focus on myself (self-centred).
If I had food and I did notice they were hungry, but I didn’t share; then I’m selfish.
To be honest… I’d probably (intentionally) not notice the other hungry people… because I reckon I use my powers of self-centredness to bypass the empathy. Then I don’t have to ignore the compassion which feels a bit harsh.
In the apocalypse scenario, I’d bypass the empathy I could feel for the other hungry souls, and probably justify eating the food using the self-care defence.)
I am not devoid of empathy. It seems our brains are just able to construct ways of avoiding acknowledging it.
It is possible that when someone is acting from evidently self-centred motives, that they are doing what I am doing: ignoring or avoiding feeling empathy.
In which case, mediation, counselling, communication, will bring feelings right into their field of view. At the very least they will be forced to empathise (move away from their self -centredness).
However, whether they go on to actually show or exercise compassion comes down to another layer of decision-making.
You have to care to activate compassion – I suppose.
And, when you just don’t care, then arguably you are now truly being selfish.
But here’s where the self-care comes in. It might be that you have to weigh the self-care in on the equation. And it might be that all things considered you can’t “care” for the other, because you can’t suffer and/or you can’t bear to suffer any longer.
There are some people I care about more than others and for whom I will lower my self-care thresholds. I will (assuming I notice him outside my own universe) lower my self-care threshold and hold my lovers needs in high-esteem. I will show (what I think) is good compassion. But maybe doing this is also just selfishness, because I do that (accommodate him as distinct from others) because I love him (which makes me feel good) and I want him to love me (very much).
You see here’s all the faulty cognitions, so I don’t know if I got this right.
To me when I do care about someone it feels more obviously selfish because it’s probably for selfish reasons; as compared to when it’s self-care which seems rational and sensible.
I think I lost the thread in there. But what I said is that I’m much more likely to think of looking after myself, rather than thinking to look after others, so as to avoid the unpleasant feeling of judging myself as selfish.
This is sort of hilarious (to me).