On Selfishness. Or Why A Red Rose Is Not Selfish Because It Wants To Be A Red Rose.


By: Catherine Collautt, Ph.D.

This vignette was inspired by Oscar Wilde’s aphorism: ‘A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.’ On Selfishness makes a case for the profound wisdom and beauty contained in these statements. It explores the idea of selfishness as we are taught it, and it’s inevitable consequence in individual – and thereby collective – emptiness, powerlessness and depression. If you’ve heard it said correctly, then you’ve already heard: you – more than having a self – are a self. Ignoring, marginalizing or neglecting this self, is not an ethical, forget effective, alternative to narcissism. Purchase now to read more.

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  1. Graeme Franks, Life Coach

    On Selfishness is stunning and profound, one of those rare and precious books that enfolds you in its pages and engages your soul. After reading it, I found my view of what it actually means to take care of myself (in the real world) profoundly changed and brought into focus in a fresh, empowering and insightful way.

  2. Betsy Pearson

    In On Selfishness, Dr. C distills self-love — and differentiates it from the yuck of self-obsession — with such lyrical ease that you barely notice the rigor of her argument. Just a welcome, sweet clarity.

  3. Karie Hill | Creator of Date Your Dollars™ |

    Every woman who has ever put her needs last (that’s all of us!) MUST read On Selfishness. Cathy has a powerful way of writing that causes an immediate, action-inducing shift in your paradigm.

  4. Anne, 29, Producer

    In On Selfishness, Dr. Collautt reminds us that it’s not only irresponsible to put others first, but impossible not to burden them with our own baggage if it’s still in our hands as we reach for them.  In order to take care of the group, we must take care of ourselves.  In order to do anything, we must first take care of ourselves.  Without guilt, without martyrdom, without self-consciousness; the only logical first step is to care for ourselves … This is a great reminder of where our priorities should lie.

  5. Anonymous

    This vignette has opened my eyes, helping me to understand that I am in fact of more service to others when I take the time to put myself first. As I continue to integrate the messages into my life I can see how much more loving I am to others because of an increased appreciation for myself.

  6. C.M. Glover, Founder of the metaphysical journal, Natural Magic Magazine.

    Coming from my own belief that we must always put ourselves first, unconditionally love ourselves first, in order to have anything to give others, I find On Selfishness to be a wonderful essay leading the reader – through a series of logical reflections – to dare to be selfish.

  7. Roshini, Dance Teacher in the making, London, UK

    Poetic, eloquent, humorous, damning … this vignette really made me think. It is quite unlike anything I’ve seen before, – and should be required reading. It systematically picks apart the selfishness myth and shows us how utterly ridiculous it is. The amount of grief and unhappiness we would save ourselves if everyone just followed this advice! I now know why following my heart and putting myself first is actually in everyone’s best interests, not just mine. Read it – it will free you.

  8. Mihaela Mitroescu, Chinese Medicine – Fertility,IVF/Mind&Body, London

    Bold, witty and deeply compassionate. Cathy is a brilliant mind! This vignette did blow my mind into million pieces, and yet put it all together in such a healthy and coherent way. Attend to the Self, only then you can genuinely be a loving Self. This paper reminded me of Mother Theresa when asked how she can take care of so many people, she answered simply “I take care of the One”, the God within her self. She knew. Stop and read it, your Self will love it!

  9. Melissa

    Dr. Collautt brilliantly debunks the negativity associated with the term “selfish” while gently guiding us back to the one and only thing we each truly have in this world–ourselves. To know oneself and pursue the desires associated with one’s nature is not a “bad” thing. When we do “right” by ourselves, we are more capable of gifting that favor to others. On Selfishness is a unique lesson in self-awareness without ever becoming preachy. Dr. Collautt is remarkable and her writing style is both approachable and refreshing. This is a must-read!

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