Selfish: Common Misconceptions Explained with Real Life Examples

Understanding the concept of selfishness, and how it is misunderstood, will help us correctly define the world around us and can help us defend ourselves when we are being wrongfully guilted into doing something we do not want to do.

Example 1: Consider a driver who decides to holds everyone else up to let someone who does not have the right of way go first. While this seems like a noble and truly selfless act it is actually inconsiderate, egotistical and unkind. The person who has the right of way, and who has decided to go against traffic laws in order to let another person go, is doing so in order to get personal gratification. It quenches their ego and makes them feel like a good person. It is inconsiderate of traffic laws and is unkind to the people they are holding up by not following the law. With the misconception of selfishness, one would think the person letting someone who does not have the right away go first is being selfless. We are giving credit where credit is not due.

Example 2: Parents want the best for their children. That is entirely understandable. A dedicated parent should be honored by society. However, a parent should not guilt their child into choosing who to marry or what career to take -or any life decision for that matter. It is sad to see many people feel guilted into career paths they do not want due to fear of being labeled as “selfish” in a derogatory form by their parents. While their parents make sacrifices in order to make the child succeed, that does not grant them the right to dictate how their child should live their life. Making sacrifices for others makes us feel good, it is selfish. Guilting another person into pursuing a career they do not want to pursue is despicable. Disowning a child because they do not pursue a career of their parents choice is so disgusting I cannot even think of a word for it.

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