Some parents might cringe at the thought but there is something positive about looking out for number one. The concept runs counter to the lessons many readers grew up with. To put yourself first is selfish and selfishness is a negative trait. Some even suggest selfishness is like a gateway drug to greed.
For those solidly programmed with such notions, the mere thought of doing something that someone else might view as self-centered can trigger deep feelings of guilt or shame. Shame can lead to self-doubt and doubt can lead to inaction. In some circumstances, such as those encountered by victims of negligence by others, failure to act could mean a life of suffering or death.
For the sake of personal well-being, a refinement of the definition of selfishness seems to be in order, so we offer one here. If you do a careful read of the meaning of selfish in most dictionaries, you’ll see that one concept pushes it into the negative realm. To be selfish means to be concerned “only” for oneself — not caring about anyone else.
In that light, selfishness does sound bad. However, consider that if you don’t care for yourself you are unlikely to be in any position to be able to help anyone else. You have to be concerned for yourself – just not “only” yourself.
In the context of personal injury, the value of looking out for number one deserves particular attention. Anyone who sustains serious injury or loses a loved one due to the reckless behavior of someone else has a right to seek reimbursement for their costs and compensation for damages suffered. Obtaining the optimal results in this regard isn’t being selfish. It’s showing self-compassion. That’s a good thing.