In praise of being selfish

Carolyn Hobdey’s new book is about the importance of self-care and putting yourself first.

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Being selfish is no bad thing – it’s about self care over burnout, about putting yourself first rather than last and letting go of the pressure to be perfect, according to a new book out this month.

Redefining SELFISH by Carolyn Hobdey is written from the heart. Hobdey, now CEO of MayDey Ltd, is a former HR Director in the corporate world who tried to meet everyone else’s expectations and found that she lost sight of who she was in the process. She writes of how she got some feedback in her old corporate life which gave her pause for thought: “Sometimes working for Superwoman can be quite hard.” Yet, through giving the impression of perfectionism, she was losing a sense of identity and feeling increasingly dissatisfied.

She says this kind of perfectionism, enhanced by social media, is fed to us all the time as an aspirational goal.

Hobdey writes: “Somehow, we praise instead the dicing-with-burnout, trying-to-have-it-all jugglers and hold them up as examples to which us mere mortals should aspire.”

It was only when her life fell apart and she realised how much others valued her that she began to rethink things. “What I discovered was that a lack of love for myself had allowed me to consistently place myself at the bottom of my priority list,” she says.


Hobdey’s book is about being selfish, not in the sense of pushing to the front of the queue or only caring about yourself, but in terms of self-care.

That means, she says, looking closely at your relationships and pruning the negative ones, while putting increased energy into the positive ones.

It means looking at the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, talking ourselves up rather than down and focusing less on the negative and more on the positive to get a better balance.

It means comparing the life you have with the life you want, being free to fail as well as succeed and questioning how you want to be rather than just being what other people expect.

And it means developing a sense of confidence in who you are. Hobdey writes: “Congruence is all about knowing who you are and being true to that person. When we live and behave in a way that isn’t really ‘us’ – because of others’ expectations, our own or because we don’t articulate what we really want out of life- it creates a discomfort in us that means we are incongruent with who we really are.”

Hobdey also touches on how the menopause can dent women’s sense of confidence, but she says it is important to hold on to the fact that it will pass and to get help. In fact accepting help as long as it is the help you need is a central message of the book.

For Hobdey, it is important to surround yourself with people who are your allies. “Those people who will support, understand, celebrate and hold you to account for doing some things that are all about you. Use them positively to help you to understand the cost of not being selfish,” she writes.

She ends by emphasising that the cost of not being selfish is high. “You lose you. You’ll not live the life you want in the way you want. You’ll not be that role model or leave that legacy.”

*Redefining SELFISH” by Carolyn Hobdey is published by iBooks, price £4.99.

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