I sent this to a friend. There's some profound stuff in it.
I think there's so much more to selfishness than just wanting something different from what someone else wants. In fact, there's even such a thing as selfish giving: giving with your own interests at heart--maybe it makes you look good to give a nice gift, or it lets you off the hook for something, or it makes someone say something that feels good... But no one would say that it was selfish because you gave. Then there's selfish serving, and there's just plain selfishness. "Because I said so." "Because I don't want to." Blah blah blah.
On the other hand, there are reasons for not wanting to do something someone else may want to do. "I'm afraid." "I can't participate and I don't want to be left out." "I have another commitment." "I don't feel well." "I'm not ready for this." "I physically cannot do this." "I don't have the resources." ... None of these reasons are selfish, but to the person who doesn't understand the reasons the act may seem selfish. Of course, a little child doesn't have the vocabulary to explain why he/she denies someone something or expresses hesitancy. Part of the parent's job is to help build that vocabulary and understand the child's reasoning. It not only builds brain cells, but it also builds emotional maturity. Of course, no parent is perfect, and our job as adult children is to reparent ourselves--and of course to pass that knowledge along to our own children or the children we touch. I don't think it's a hopeless task, but it is not easy.