By Andrew Leigh


Why a little selfishness is good for you – and for everyone else!

Have you invested any time on your own wellbeing lately?

Well, while I guess some will be able to say yes to that question, many others will be shaking their heads in disbelief. There always seems so much to do: work, partners, family and friends, and jobs around the home – all clamour for your attention, time and energy. And when it comes to deciding between yourself and others it’s no contest.

Negative generosity

Negative generosity? Can there really be such a thing? Well, while it’s brilliant to have a generous nature, only being able to say yes to requests for help, time or work is anything but. One consequence of only being able to say yes is a feeling of not being in control. Another is that we find it almost impossible to engineer time out for ourselves – and when we do, something inevitably crops up that seems ‘more important’. If we continue this way, then over time we become stressed, anxious, worn out and eventually resentful to those around us.

Yes, strange as it may seem, generosity of this kind can actually damage relationships! And as the receivers seem to just take it all for granted the over-generous giver becomes more and more tetchy in their giving.

Saying No

When people in this frame of mind do finally say no, it’s usually done in a temper, and often blurted out at the ones who least deserve it.

A useful exercise here is to practice saying no gently but firmly. It can be helpful to explain that although you’d like to help/attend etc. there’s something else you have to do that’s really important to you. You’ll be surprised at how well people respond to this technique.

Me Time

Everyone has their own personal definition of what Me Time means to them. I’d define it as any activity that is done because it’s something we really want to do, that also helps us feel better about ourselves when we’ve done it. For some it’s solitude: walking, running, gym work, gardening, meditation, music, uninterrupted reading, studying or practising a hobby – for others it may be more social activities: sport, coffee with friends, a family outing, trip to the beauty salon, a meal out. The list is endless.

The one key rule, however, is that it must be something that you really want to do for yourself – not for others, although others may benefit too.


What are the benefits of grabbing some Me Time? Quite a lot as it happens:

  • Enhanced inner peace and calmness
  • recharged batteries
  • valuable thinking time
  • hugely increased feeling of respect for ourselves (simply because we have begun to treat ourselves with respect)
  • more healthily balanced relationships

How to get it

This can be tricky at first, as we’re often not used to asserting our own needs over the needs of others.

  • Plan your Me Time – explain and get co-operation from those around you
  • Assert your needs calmly – calmness is very powerful
  • Start small and build on it.
  • Make your me time a regular event rather than a one-off
  • Visualise your Me Time beforehand. It’s a great motivator and can be almost as good as the real thing!

Finally – think of it as a wonderful gift to yourself – because that’s exactly what Me Time is.

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Andrew Leigh helps people achieve better work and business performance, whole-life wellbeing, achievement and change, and fulfilling new life directions.

To find out more about how life coaching can transform your life visit

Copyright 2006 – Andrew Leigh. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Reprint Rights: You may reprint this article as long as you leave all of the links active, do not edit the article in any way and give author name credit.