My advice is that if you must be selfish, be wisely selfish. ... The kind of selfishness that provokes fighting, killing, stealing, using harsh words, forgetting other people’s welfare will only result in your own loss. - Dalai Lama
Being selfish is not a bad thing, but like anger it can have negative outcomes. Desires, wants, and needs are words to describe objects or experiences that will provide positive emotions. However, these objects and experiences ultimate goal is to leave us feeling happy, safe, peaceful, and free. To neglect our needs is not only harmful to us, but also harmful to our loved ones. This disregard can leave us feeling anger, resentment, and a whole load of other negative emotions and actions. It is vital for healthy relationships to listen to ourselves. To contemplate our needs and to nurture them into existence.
So what does it mean to be selfish wisely? It means we welcome our desires in. We sit and hang out with them, contemplating if they are something we should act on. We think about who might be effected and how. Will someone be hurt by our actions (affairs, verbal abuse, domestic violence, addictions, etc...)? Is that pain important for growth (boundaries, ending a relationship, changing jobs) or destructive? All these questions help guide us in making a healthy selfish choice.
We can communicate our desires with our lovers so they can help. We can say to them, "My love, I feel inadequate at my job. I need a change. Will you help me explore a change that will be best for me and our family?" When we are approached with love, honesty, and vulnerability it can be very difficult to be dismissive and attacking. This form of communication leaves our lover in a place of feeling seen and considered, so they have room to see us too.
When you are being selfish it is helpful to think of yourself as a tree. To let the thoughts of others sway your branches as the wind does for a tree. Your feelings and thoughts are the roots, they hold you steady and keep you grounded. The tree experiences the wind, but it might not choose to its path.
And remember when you want to be selfish, be selfish wisely.