Although most of us know the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, many of us who find ourselves dealing with that exact issue find it difficult to put our needs first. When we’ve given all we have to everyone else, the question of whether self care is selfish or necessary still haunts us. Society loves to tell us that to practice self-care is unacceptable, because it sends the message, “my well-being is my only priority.”
This couldn’t be more damaging.
Focusing on your emotional, mental, and spiritual stability doesn’t take away from others. There’s a difference between being selfish and taking care of yourself. Humans have a finite amount of resources with which to operate, so taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. Honestly, meeting our own needs makes us better equipped to meet the needs of others.
I recently dove into the comment’s section (I know, I shouldn’t have!) on a post I saw on Facebook. The post was something simple, stating it’s important to put ourselves first, take care of our needs, before taking care of others. A nice sentiment, but apparently, not according to the commenters. I would guess over half the people reading the meme had something negative to say about a woman, in particular, putting herself first. That it is selfish, not self-care.
Self-care has benefits for you and everyone in your life. Though it can be difficult to see it this way, it’s true. When you take time to relax and do things that restore your energy, you’re much healthier. The healthier and happier you are, the more positive things are in your life. A study in 2000 found that adults over 65 who practiced self-care showed signs of improved health. Imagine what it can do for you if you start at a much younger age.
When it’s self-care, not being selfish, it isn’t done with an intention to harm others. If someone is being self-serving, there’s an underlying negative intent. Being selfish means there’s a desire to take from others, whereas self-care is about replenishing your own resources, not taking from someone else’s.
If you’re selfish, you aren’t the kind of person who gives to others, or of yourself. When you have a ‘me, me, me’ mentality, you’re focused on what something can do for you, and you alone. Alternatively, self-care involves setting healthy boundaries so you don’t give away all your personal energy, taking care of everyone other than yourself. In the end, you have more to give, which is the opposite of selfish.
Once you get the hang of showing yourself love, and not apologizing for it, you’ll notice an increase in security. Selfishness is rooted in an unspoken insecurity, which tells you, you’ll never have enough. When you practice self-care, you learn, you’re enough, you have enough, as long as you make yourself a priority.
Selfishness excludes others, whereas self-care does not. It may feel like you’re being selfish when you start saying no to things that deplete your energy, but it’s not. Don’t allow the way other people feel determine what you do for you and your health. Folks tend to feel left out or abandoned when you don’t do everything they want, but that’s something they have to learn to deal with.
What’s selfish is, thinking that we are put here to cater to the needs of everyone in our lives, other than ourselves. Self-care is just as critical as drinking water and eating food. And no, taking an occasional trip to the store without the kids, or getting to go to the bathroom alone aren’t self-care. Really take the time to figure out what you need and get to it. Your health and your relationships depend on it.
This post was previously published on Change Becomes You.
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