“The word ‘selfish’ ordinarily implies that one is acquisitive, demanding, and thoughtless of the welfare of others. Of course, the [recovery] way of life does not at all imply such undesirable traits.”  

~As Bill Sees It, page 81

“To thine own self be true.”     ~William Shakespeare

“Selfish” was the topic at an AA meeting I recently attended. In Science of Mind I’ve heard references to the “Self with the capital S” as opposed to “self,” meaning the awareness of our Higher Power Self, eternally connected with the One Mind, vs the ego-driven small self that is grappling for that which we already are and have  such as love, peace, wholeness, acceptance and all the other good stuff.

One day as I was comparing myself to another (I know, I was in judgement, so maybe it was somewhat counterproductive) – that’s another topic – but still… the subtle nuance difference between self-centered and self-aware came to me. I saw myself as self-aware and saw her as self-centered.

I grew up with a “who do you think you are?” message – sometimes explicit, usually implicit. I think that drove me to seek and sneak the ultimately self-destructive, self-pleasing behaviors because I interpreted that I didn’t deserve good things the right way.

The 12 steps take me on a step-by-step journey of honest self-awareness, requiring me to look at myself objectively for the purpose of achieving emotional and spiritual freedom. The only way I can really “change” and live a different kind of life it to start where I am right now – which requires knowing where that is, and a little about how I got here … Not to romance the drama of my sordid past to glorify, emotionalize, and justify it, but to take an honest inventory of things and my part in it.

I am currently again in a (seemingly slowly and taking forever) step work process, currently on Step 9 which is the amends step. (ick at first thought, but not really in practice; in fact quite the opposite…)

The common thread that runs through all of my resentments and amends is my selfishness – the bad kind… The common denominator in all of the situations in which this glaringly showed up is me.

Everything shifts when I take responsibility for my actions from a place of wanting to heal things. Especially healing myself of the painful and unaware place in me that brought out that behavior in the first place.

My intentions: Self-aware, self-assured, self-motivating, self-confident, self-accepting, self-sustaining…

My areas of improvement: Self-conscious, self-centered, self-serving, self-loathing, self-destructive, self-aggrandizing…

If I am being selfish in the moment to heal myself (i.e. take time for myself, say no to an invitation if I need to meet a commitment to myself or to another), then that to me is a positive use of the word.

If I selfishly feel the need to try to grab more, to seek approval from outside of myself, or prove something, then that’s negative.

How different and enjoyable it is for me now to be aware of my good traits as easily as cruddy ones, and act accordingly. I can take a compliment from myself in the spirit of developing an attitude of self-acceptance and self-love in the healthiest way – not in a false attempt to try to convince myself that I’m worth it.

I am worth it. And in case you haven’t noticed lately, so are you.


Ask yourself:

  1. Do you let yourself be selfish? How?
  2. Do you judge the word/trait “selfish” as all good, or all bad?
  3. Is there something you can do today that is “selfish” in the best meaning of the word? Do it!

In gratitude, harmony and support,



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