Selfishness Matters

A book by Theo Selles, M.Sc.

Warning: Some readers may find some of the material offensive. The author hopes so.
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Selfishness Matters is a self help book even a man would read; a well overdue parody of the self-help industry.
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January 27, 2011, Guelph Mercury, "U of G graduate takes tongue-in-cheek look at relationships in book."


GUELPH -A chapter in therapist-turned-author Theo Selles' humorous new book Selfishness Matters is titled Winning at Marriage Counselling.

That's a joke, because, as anyone familiar with counselling knows, saving a marriage entails compromising, not battling to the bitter end.

"I do think people can rise above their own self-centredness," Selles said, outlining an approach he sees as central to success in relationships.

His book is a brash, irreverent look at the follies of the me-first behaviour people typically engage in until they gain more productive insight. He pulls no punches as he draws the reader into his corner.

"It's a confrontational book. It's meant to be."

Selfishness Matters -- copies of which he'll autograph in Guelph from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 5, at The Bookshelf -- is a study in contrasts. On the surface, it's a tongue-in-cheek, superficial nod to the same old mistakes people usually make. Underneath, it highlights the folly and failure that follows from this.

The cover of this "self-help book even a man would read" is subtitled: "How to live your life completely right. Getting what you want without having to care."

Selles, a Port Perry resident in his 40s, knows Guelph well. Originally from Burlington, he graduated in 1993 with a University of Guelph Master of Science degree in marriage and family therapy. He's worked almost 20 years in the therapy field since, building a wealth of experience. A public speaker, his business, Integrity Works, offers business organization development, team building and retreats. He's currently teaching in the field at the Cobourg campus of Sir Sandford Fleming College.

Selles said his lampooning of the self-help industry is long overdue. He has little respect for "pompous" people, such as television, radio and newspaper personalities who "take themselves far too seriously" as they offer unhelpful advice to others.

"I just thought it would be fun to poke fun at people like Dr. Phil" and Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret" power-of-positive-thinking self-help guide.

"The last thing people need is more encouragement to focus on themselves," Selles said, arguing the average person is already too egocentric. "We live in our own world."

It takes effort to gain insight into other people's feelings and learn to empathize with them, he said. But those perspectives are as important as our own in healthy relations, he added.

In marriage counselling, for example, he sees couples who want warmer relationships, but rarely say "I want to learn how I can love somebody better."

Selles said his book may leave the impression, under the humour, that he's a little annoyed. He conceded the self-defeating dichotomy between the better relations people want, and how poorly they treat others is frustrating at times.

His approach is guiding people to refocus on the love in a relationship and ways to express it, a better path to success. "That's the secret." And it's one people tend not to learn from self-help books, Selles continued.

His self-published Selfishness Matters ($19.99) is available at The Bookshelf and through the author's website:

This article appeared in The Guelph Mercury and can be found at

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Selfishness Matters is a self help book even a man would read; a long overdue parody of the self-help industry. Paperback and E-Book now available!

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