Is self-care selfish?

That was my thought at one point in my life. Regardless of the circumstances, I was tamed to put people first. In this sense, my mother likes to refer to me as a ‘giver.’ She mentioned that I have had a heart that gives with my soul without thinking about the consequences since I was a child. Indeed, my heart was so enormous that no matter what someone asked, regardless of the scenario, I would make sure I took care of them. Being a giver is not inherently bad; it only becomes so when one neglects their own needs for the benefit of others. I could abandon myself for others, but how far will I go until I burn out or have a nervous breakdown? Keep in mind that hurdles to self-care may exist due to past trauma, mental health difficulties, or family situations, all of which can make accepting self-care more difficult.

It took a while for me to unlearn and accept that I must first look after myself before I can look after others. Of course, I felt like a narcissist. Every so often, my thoughts examined the rejections I made during the day for my own sake— whether I wasn’t in a good emotional state to deal with what is, or I was laying it off because I had something else to deal with. My thoughts were paralyzed by feelings of abandonment toward others. I remember feeling guilty whenever I practiced self-care. Why should self-care make one feel guilty? My definition was flawed, and I believed that prioritizing one’s own needs over those of others was selfish and unethical; certainly, acting differently would guilt-trip me. It took me some time to realize that taking care of myself is perfectly acceptable.

Self-care refers to your overall health, including your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. That isn’t self-indulgent or selfish in the least. Self-care is essential since it decreases stress and promotes overall health. Clinical studies have shown that practicing self-care reduces or eliminates anxiety and depression, improves focus, reduces irritation and anger, increases happiness, improves energy, and more.[1] Self-care allows you to have a positive relationship with yourself so that you can transmit your positive energy to others. What you don’t have yourself, you can’t give to others. While people may mistake self-care for selfishness, this is far from the case. When you devote focus to your health, you’re not only thinking about your own needs. You’re recharging your batteries so you can be the best version of yourself for others around you. The revitalized energy and excitement you radiate help everyone around you.

Self-care allows you to have a positive relationship with yourself so that you can transmit your positive energy to others. What you don’t have yourself, you can’t give to others.

Being able to reject something or say no—not because you don’t want to, but because you prioritize your own wellbeing—hits different.

When I was able to grasp a more profound notion of self-care. I’ve never felt better in my entire life. I feel good. I feel alive. It’s like having an inner serenity regardless of what’s going on around you. With peacefulness settled inside of you–you always have the feeling that you’re okay, or that everything will be okay. You don’t fight something over which you have no control. You accept what is, but you never fail to make an effort to improve the situation. The inside feeling is beyond human linguistic comprehension—it’s more like you’re completely happy on the inside no matter what happens on the outside. Of course, there will be sad feelings or fluctuating emotions when faced with a difficult situation. However, your baseline for happiness and peace remains; It quickly returns to the nurtured baseline. Being able to reject something or say no—not because you don’t want to, but because you prioritize your own wellbeing—hits different. Too often, we say yes to every request in order to avoid upsetting the feelings of another person. When you do this at the expense of your own peace or health, you are violating self-care principles. It’s important to recognize that you’re only human and can’t possibly please everyone. Saying yes to everything puts you at risk of burnout and is detrimental to your physical and emotional health. Knowing and accepting that you don’t have to be in control all of the time and that is it’s okay to let go and take care of yourself–that is self-care.

Starting a self-care routine can be difficult at first, especially if you have had a negative concept attached to it, but don’t fret; with a step-by-step approach, you can get into the practice of taking care of yourself. Discover what activities bring you joy, re-energize you, and help you re-establish your equilibrium. Some examples of activities include exercising, meditation, writing, dancing or singing, eating a good diet, reading a book, having a bath, and so on. Begin slowly by adopting the behavior on a daily or weekly basis. Take note of how you feel, and how your energy was before and after—did it improve, remain stable, or possibly decline? Determine whether or not the activity is beneficial to you and make changes accordingly. When you are comfortable with that behavior, you can incorporate additional practices. Self-care can be beginning each day by focusing on your breath for five minutes and setting intentions for the day, as well as reflecting on what you’re grateful for each night. It could be ordering food from your favorite restaurant, putting your phone on airplane mode for a few minutes each night to escape the barrage of notifications, or setting a bedtime and sticking to it. Self-care can occur in many ways. It is personal and unique to each individual.

Self-care can lead to a journey of self-discovery. According to the Oxford Dictionary, self-discovery is the process of acquiring insight into one’s own character. Self-discovery not only assists us in identifying our strengths but also in determining how to leverage and develop them. People are more likely to absorb and accept concepts if they know what they are enthusiastic about. As a result, we discover pathways that we want to pursue and that will make us happy.

Self-care is a personal experience, and no one-size-fits-all approach will always work. What drives and inspires you is not the same as what motivates and inspires the person next door. Look for things that give you a sense of aliveness. Make dates with yourself, and stick to your word when you say you’ll work out or do something for yourself. Don’t abandon yourself. You will feel better suited to serve others if you practice good self-care. Take care of yourself and make the most of your life.

References

[1]“The Importance of Self-Care.” Perimeter Healthcare, https://www.perimeterhealthcare.com/about/news/the-importance-of-self-care/.

Lawler, Moira, et al. “What Is Self-Care and Why Is It Critical for Your Health?” EverydayHealth.com, https://www.everydayhealth.com/self-care/.

4 thoughts on “Is self-care selfish?”

  1. I truly believe that self-care is necessary. It’s what you should focus on before trying to help others. So yeah, thanks for advocating this. Great point about us needing to find our individual paths to self-care too!

    Liked by 1 person

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