Selfish: An inability to accept reality

Selfish: An inability to accept reality

On a recent retreat, the workshop leader defined “selfish” as “an inability to accept reality.”

The dictionary defines selfish as: “placing one’s own needs or desires above the needs or well-being of others; an excessive concern for your own welfare and a disregard of others.”

I have been struggling this week to understand the connection between the 2 definitions. How did the definition go from preoccupation with one’s own needs to an inability to accept reality?

So, I came across an article on emotional maturity, which coincidently sounds a lot like emotional sobriety. In this article, the author writes: selfish people are preoccupied with their own feelings and symptoms. They demand constant attention and make unreasonable demands. Selfish people are unable to see themselves realistically. They cannot objectively evaluate or take responsibility for their errors or defects and consequently they are insensitive to the feelings of others. People who are selfish have no regard for others and insist on having their own way.

Now, who does than sound like?

When seen in this light, it is not such a big leap to go from defining selfishness from a preoccupation with one’s own needs to an inability to accept reality. As addicts — we want what we want and we want it our way. We will not or cannot accept the situation as it is. This is the lie that we tell ourselves. We live in a delusion of how we want the world to be. And when others do not behave according to the role we have assigned or follow the script that we have written — we become angry and afraid. This is called being selfish. This is called not living in reality. Some might call it plain insanity.


With blessings for peace and recovery,



  1. Great detective work Shira! This really helps my understanding of the connection. It also addresses the mental obsession (insanity) that is our biggest problem as addicts, Very well written too.

  2. hi thank you for your post
    selfish people live with so much fear that they are convinced that they can’t take any chances so they sit around waiting for others to do for them what they need to do for themselves and when others don’t do what they want they become angry or withdrawn

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