The word 'selfish' is always viewed negatively and its definition is fairly negative in itself. However, I am starting to see a more positive side to selfishness and I believe it is a very important part of maintaining good mental health.
Don't get me wrong, there is definitely bad selfishness. People can be selfish when they certainly shouldn't be and their lack of consideration for others reflects badly on them and upsets others. So what do I mean when I discuss 'good selfishness'?
What I mean by this is having the ability to put yourself first without feeling guilty about it. I find it's usually the nicest and most selfless people who get taken advantage of and often end up having poor mental health because they're being treated badly by those around them. It is okay to say no, it is okay to distance yourself from someone who is toxic and it is okay to put your emotional needs before someone else's, if your emotional needs are in dire need of some help and healing. For example, if you're going through a depressive episode and you need time to yourself, but you know your friend is not experiencing similar issues, it is okay to take that time for yourself and if your friend makes you feel bad for doing so, that's someone who does not respect you and your emotional needs and should either be spoken to or left behind. You can be 'selfish' without upsetting or hurting another person.
It is okay to say no, it is okay to distance yourself from someone who is toxic and it is okay to put your emotional needs before someone else's.
I have been 'good selfish' for a long time, but no-one has ever said that I am selfish or viewed me negatively. In fact, it has turned out the opposite. People view me as someone who doesn't deal with their crap and is not afraid to move away from a toxic relationship/situation - someone who has respect for themselves. That feeling that I could leave at any point, makes the relationship appear more valuable and precious, something that should be cared for. I have found people respect me a lot more because I am not afraid to stand on my own two feet and put my own needs first. If you respect yourself, then you naturally demand (and receive) respect from others and it becomes more obvious when someone is not treating you right.
If someone is unnecessarily rude to me, disrespects me or treats me in a way I wouldn't dream of treating someone else, they get ditched. Life is too short to spend time with the wrong people who don't treat you right. And you know what's happened as a result? I have received numerous apologies over the years from people who have treated me badly. If I had continued talking to them, they would never have realised their behaviour is unacceptable; it is usually when someone stops talking to you, that you start questioning why and looking at your own behaviour trying to find the answer.
Life is too short to spend time with the wrong people who don't treat you right.
Learn to love yourself and soon you'll realise that you're worth a lot more than the way someone is treating you and that you deserve better. Better is out there, it's just hard to find, but it's worth holding out for it. Most people are always interested in their own gain anyway, so don't be afraid to do the same and work on overcoming that guilt you feel - a guilt that comes from the negative connotation of the word 'selfish'. Forget about the meaning and remember the principle.