A Selfish Good Person?

Am I a good person?

Do you ever ask yourself that?

I ask it a lot. It’s something of a tenet, a measure, a check and a balance to my life.

Am I a good person?

How do you measure if you’re a good person?

For me, it’s always been about how I treat others and, more importantly, what I do for others.* Born into a family ‘blessed’ with an overactive servant gene, it has always filled my soul to be helpful to someone.

Until recently.

I’m not sure but I think somehow my servant gene has mutated into a selfish gene.

There are significant people in my life who require my help but I can’t seem to muster the willpower to do it.

There are tasks I have willingly undertaken for years for someone about whom I care very much that lately I have found a chore.

I take forever to answer emails requesting assistance for some task or other (if I answer at all).

Issues of justice for which I used to advocate passionately all just seem too hard now.

Friends regularly chide me (gently) for not being in touch for months on end.

When it comes to the blogosphere, I’ve been binge-watching shows on Netflix when I know I could be reading the blog posts of people who so kindly read mine.

Is there such a thing as a selfish good person?

Even when I try to be a good person, I can end up in a no-win situation. A genuine offer of assistance to a friend has become meaningless as I find myself regularly unavailable on the day required because I want to do what is best for a special group of children. Being good to the one means being selfish to the other.

Maybe it’s too hard to be a good person.

Or maybe we just have to be as good as it’s possible to be under the circumstances. A ‘good enough’ person.

And then we hope the circumstances change to allow us to be the person we really want to be.

What makes a good person to you?

Tennant quote

You and me both, Dave.


*Consequently, should I do something against this tenet and do or say something that causes hurt to another, I never really get over it.



HOME button Able Theme small

68 thoughts on “A Selfish Good Person?

  1. I think there’s a certain inevitability toward being “as good as it’s possible to be under the circumstances.” Sometimes, you just have to recharge. Sometimes, you have to pull back to avoid seeing the parts you don’t want to see, the parts that may drive you to those moments you will regret. If you’ve skipped reading a few of my posts, in favor of several episodes of a good program, no harm done, no upset here. There’s a line between being a good person and being taken advantage of. I’ve crossed that line many times. I’m still a good person, but not always. I don’t judge, either.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks, Dan. I find that’s a line that’s hard to find at times because the other people you’re dealing with view it in different places, don’t you think? And thanks for understanding about the reading. Does “Suits” count as a good program? You have to blame Lynn down there for that one. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree with you, but you have to decide where the line is for you. Of course, I don’t do it very well, so this is a “do as I say, not as I do” bit of advice 🙂

        If you enjoyed watching, it counts.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Welcome to the human race 😉 All people have a selfish side and sometimes that side expresses itself more than it does at other times. Perhaps binge watching TV is the opposite reaction to the action of trekking half way across the world to lay the foundations of a new school. Try to be as good as you can and perhaps the pendulum will swing back the other way after a while.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Is it selfish to put on your own oxygen mask first before you help someone else? I think everyone agrees the answer is no.

    Recharging the batteries is critical to our ability to keep on doing what we’re doing. Sometimes that mental and emotional recharge takes a lot longer than usual – especially when it’s been over exercised like it seems your’s has been over the past year. Binge watching Netflix sounds like a perfectly reasonable *recharging* activity to me.

    We’re always hardest on ourselves. If someone is physically injured / exhausted, we would definitely expect them to rest / relax / recuperate. Why we would think differently about mental and emotional exhaustion is a puzzle – especially when it applies to ourselves.

    The fact that you feel like you’re never as good, or as nice, or as generous as you’d like to be implies to me that you already are a good, nice, and generous person 🙂

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Perhaps I could just say ‘what Joanne said’.
    Like you Heather I spent a lot of my life helping everyone non stop. Dave would tease me that I had an offer stamped on my forehead. Like you, there came a time when I came to a crossroads. With some help I came to see that if I didn’t start caring for myself I wasn’t going to be a happy person.
    So it’s taken a long time to try and find the balance and I’m still not as good at it as I would like. However to steal Joanne’s line I know when to put on my own oxygen mask first now. That’s not selfish it’s smart. If you can’t breathe you certainly won’t have the health and heart to help someone else.
    As to blog reading NEVER feel like you have to come to my blog. I truly want people to pop in when the mood hits them. I have no expectations that readers should want to take in every article I write. I think if you write a post once every few weeks there certainly shouldn’t be any expectation that you reciprocally visit blogs more often. Can you tell I’m trying to implement this in my own world? 🙂 xo

    Liked by 3 people

    • And you have so many who read and comment, I can’t imagine you can possibly reciprocate by reading all of them. I’ve always been impressed that you manage as much as you do. I’m glad you’re finding some balance in your own life. I can see that finding that balance probably has to be a lifelong work-in-progress, eh?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Definitely a life long work. I finally had to admit I just couldn’t keep up with all of the blogs. It took me a long time to get there. I realize some people don’t visit anymore because of it but I made the decision that was better than me running ragged and not even really absorbing what was in the post.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t trust subjective measures of goodness, which is why I always measure my integrity level with a merit-o-meter. Usually, I hover somewhere between well-meaning and kindly, but recently I’ve been making a special effort to get up near exemplary. I’ve made tea for my wife, let my younger son have the last doughnut, and everything.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am learning to be selfish in a good way. I spend most of my time supporting others in their events or just allowing them to vent. When I need support they are all consumed with their own lives. I now know the importance of having alone time and doing things for yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There is so much I want to say in response to this…I need to collect my thoughts I think…I think there has to be a definition between being selfish and looking after yourself; the word selfish has negative connotations, whereas actually putting yourself first sometimes is okay, it’s more than okay. If you don’t look after yourself and your emotions then how CAN you look after someone or anyone else? So it’s okay not to respond to communications until you’re ready, and it’s okay to take time for yourself, and it doesn’t therefore stop you from being a ‘good’ person..and as long as you are happy in your own mind and your own heart, what else matters??

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think your last statement is the crux of the problem for me. I’m not completely happy in my mind or heart. Putting myself first is okay but I feel like I’ve been doing it for too long, at least in relation to certain people and their needs. I do wonder, though, whether it has to do with the increase in my work. I find my work fairly taxing, not just physically but very much mentally and emotionally. I’ve had more than a few cries as I’ve got in the car after work. I love it but it needs me to give a lot of myself. But I’m not sure if people understand that it’s not just work to me and that the hours I spend there have a much deeper impact. And I wonder if that’s why I’m finding it so hard to care about other things. I just don’t have the emotional energy left over.

      Anyway, just a few further thoughts prompted by your comment. As always, you have been wise and thoughtful. Thank you. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • And maybe that’s all it is: you’re exhausted. You haven’t become someone else, your heart hasn’t changed, you just don’t have the energy left to look after after people right now.
        I find when I’m really tired that the whole world seems to change, and I can’t imagine anything ever being okay again…after a good sleep and a good rest, of course, I find out that nothing has changed, I was just worn out. I think fatigue can make us think that we’ve turned into different versions of ourself.
        With what you’ve said about your job, I would suggest that maybe you shouldn’t be so hard in yourself, and that it’s not a good time to overthink things. Now is a time that you really need to look after yourself, and that is OKAY, it’s not selfish, it’s necessary. Self preservation is the key here xx

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I guess as long as you are striving to be one (a good person), it doesn’t matter that much. Plus it’s alright to take a break once in awhile from all the responsibilities or dependencies. You deserve to give some time to yourself as well. It’s a part of life !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Yours is one of the blogs I’ve felt guilty for not visiting. I very much appreciated your comment on that earlier post and I always try to drop in on the blog of a new commenter but I just haven’t managed to get there. So I appreciate even more your reading and commenting on this post also. I will get there soon, Zee!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey it’s alright. I know you must be busy. Visit whenever it’s easier for you. I’ll be looking forward to it. Hope you’ll like it 😊

        Have a lovely weekend ahead 💗

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I sympathise with your dilemma. I feel if I was a good person, I would go out into the world and do something for the least fortunate (and there are plenty of them). To do this I would need to abandon, at least for a time, the person I promised to stick with until death us do part, who also has needs. Instead I give money and goods to charities and feel guilty as I continue to live in comfort. So I have no answers, but I rather think you have immediate young family who demand all your time. I wouldn’t worry about being ‘good’. Start every day from rock bottom, if you make someone smile, you’ve done good, add anything more it’s all plus, but you can’t cover all the available ground, that way madness lies.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I love this comment, Hilary. You get it. 🙂 And I like that idea of approaching the day at rock bottom so that everything is a bonus. I’ll try that. Although, while I espouse the theory in my relief teaching that if we get through the day calmly and no one gets hurt, I’ve done good and any actual teaching is a bonus, I always want to do more. So I’m not sure how I’ll go but I’ll give it a try.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Heather, I suspect you are indeed a very good & caring person. We have never met in person, but I get that vibe just in reading, not only your blog posts, but the comments that you leave on mine & our fellow blog friends posts.

    Like so many have commented before me, there are times in our lives when we need to take a little step back to recharge. As much as we want to help others, sometimes our own lives are in chaos for whatever reason & we need to be as kind to our own selves as we are on a day to day basis to others.

    Based on the comments I have read so far, looks like you are in good company my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lynn. You are very kind. To be honest, I had the thought after I published the post that I should have put a postscript to say “I am not fishing for ‘oh but you are a good person’ comments” because I realised it might come across that way. But it’s really just that sometimes you have to get the thoughts out there to help you work things out. Do you find that? Thank you for your wise words. 🙂

      PS You know the binge-watching is your fault, right? 😉 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha! As soon as I read that you were binge watching Netflix, I thought “oh oh, I think that is my fault!”😜

        I think a large part of why some of us write is to get our thoughts out there. It is in our nature to share with others, whether that is through our words or through the physical act of caring. I do think it helps to get them out there, not only to work through some particular issue but also to hear others opinions. Additionally it is not a crime to hear that you are not alone in your feelings or struggles. It can be the difference between
        Feeling totally lost & recognizing that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

        Sorry about the binge- watching.😂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Sometimes one person seems to do most of the giving, and the rest of the crowd kind of sits back and let’s them do it. Sometimes the giver might need to step back and let the rest of the crowd take over for a while.
    I don’t think that is selfish – I think it is self preservation.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I gave up a long time ago of ‘being good’ and have never felt better. I try not to push others down, but there has to be a point of no return. I am not so nice when I see a young and bouncy person (on iPhone) having taken a ‘seniors only’ parking space at the shopping mall. I shake my fist at them . Or worse, when at the cash register, they take ages getting their wallets out, deeply hidden inside a large pretend Louis Vuitton hand-bag that seems to hold the entire house-hold. (I might just nudge their heels with my trolley.) No, I Iike being not so good.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I have noticed that you don’t visit me very often, but that’s OK as I only visit you when you write something that I want to read, and actually (should I even admit this?) the comments your posts attract. Don’t worry so much about what other people think, or indeed what you think, navel gazing is for those who have time, you on the other hand have a life. Live it. Stop worrying. And if you do pop in now and again and say hi, then I will be very pleased, and if you don’t then I know you are happily living your life. No one can or should ask for more and if they do then THEY are the selfish ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jude, every time one of your posts lands in my inbox, I think “Ooh, I must read that!” But as I am not one for quickly perusing and hitting the Like button but like to read and savour and write a thoughtful (or ridiculous) comment, I always I feel I need to dedicate some clear space to that reading. Which is why you sometimes get a binge-reading session from me which leads to a binge-commenting for you. 😀 I still very much want to go to St Ives with you. I’ll get there. I’ll just be a bit late.

      And you know that I think the comments are the best bit about blogging so I don’t mind you admitting that’s the attraction for you. It’s a credit to my readers – such a witty and intelligent bunch they are. 🙂


      • I know what you mean about reading each post. I try to do that too, not simply click like in the Reader. But sometimes life gets in the way. I’m actually grateful for bloggers who only post once a week 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Sorry I didn’t get around to commenting right away. I was binging Star Trek on Netflix.

    Servant genes mess us up, don’t they? It’s great for a while…we help, help, help…then one day the genes get tired and worn out. And we feel guilty for not helping others. Take a break, H. You deserve it. Resting the genes will either recharge or give them the ability to say no without guilt on occasion.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m tempted to binge-watch Star Trek as I missed a lot of it but there’s so much of it I may never rejoin the human race….

      I am getting a bit better at saying no but it still tends to carry a layer of guilt with it every time. I’ll try and work on that. Thanks, M-J.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. A selfish good person. Quite a thought, Mosy. We can’t please everyone in the world and we also need me-time for ourselves. Like you, I think it’s a fine line. I suppose when we can, why not…but we also have a choice not too. Doesn’t mean we’re bad people – it could be we don’t feel like it and when we don’t feel like it we aren’t entirely genuine.

    I don’t like sharing my chocolate and I rarely give it away 😀


    • Oh, yeah, but chocolate’s a whole other ballgame…. 😉

      I like your point about it being genuine. Recently I have been getting a bit better at saying no to things I really don’t want to do instead of grudgingly saying yes and then resenting it to some extent. But it’s hard not to think that people are feeling disappointed or let down because you’ve said no so there’s still some guilt involved.


      • Yeah, sometimes when you say “no” you might not be seen as easy going or “difficult”. But as I mentioned, you can’t please everyone and if you resent it, it might show there and then. If you can’t find something about it that you might enjoy, then best to say no. That’s what I do and if your friends are your friends, they will understand.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. My very dear friend….. You are wonderful! And some one who is truely selfish is incapable of seeing it.
    Give yourself time and space to be… you are but one person…. And some of those asking of you aren’t always aware of what you have been giving elsewhere and therefore don’t understand or simply won’t try to understand …measured by the expectations of others we may never stack up, but we must measure our own journeys. There will always be someone who needs us, things to do, find acceptance of your right to not be everything to everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I know what you mean. I know I am a good person, at least I thought I was, but lately I don’t want to do anything for/with anyone else. I am binge-watching Netflix as well. Nothing like watching the last show of the season, on the edge of your seat, knowing there is going to be a shocking ending, that leaves you hanging until the next season. Fortunately for me, no one has really asked me to do anything, even when I agreed that some of my friends come to my door, and get me out of here for awhile.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The ‘jargon’ term for this necessity is ‘self care’. Those in more obvious caring professions have seminars on its importance. Time to learn not to dump on yourself. Time to change the ‘should haves’ to ‘could haves’. Breathing space – whatever the form – is life giving to balance the life draining. You cannot keep drawing from the resource well if it is not replenished.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. After years of facing the dilemma of not being able to be in three places at once, ( ridiculous to even think I could, right?) I now go by the tenet Help others as long as you and your family are not disadvantaged. And follow your gut.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m loving the notion of an overactive servant gene! 🙂 Actually, you radiate goodness, Heather. And I’m doubly thankful now for your presence at my place this morning. You will, of course, have noticed how I always come to you AFTER you’ve left me a comment. No 2 ways about it- I am a selfish, bad person. But I try to be good. Can I help it that the good Lord in his wisdom gave me a flawed personality? Just like everybody else 🙂 🙂 (well, maybe a tiny bit better than some 🙂 ) Hugs, sweetheart!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jo. You’re definitely a good sort. 🙂 It’s true what they say – a trouble shared is a trouble halved. That’s why I made it to your place today. I feel more on top of things already. It’s like people give you permission not to be perfect and it makes you feel able to do anything.


  21. Everyone needs to balance between selfishness and selflessness in their lives. It sounds like you spread yourself thin helping others for a long time which definitely isn’t selfish by any means. Give yourself a break and take some time to think about you! After all to take care of others in our life we have to take care of ourselves too 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

Talk to me. I love a discussion. I might learn new stuff.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s