Over the past couple of years, there’s been a real recognition that you can’t do anything well if you don’t take care of yourself first. The self care mantra is everywhere you look, from social media, blogs, and celebrity shows. But, there’s no denying that the concept of self care has gone from being all about being selfish to an entire wellness movement focusing on mental health and self love.
So, why do people still talk about self care and selfish as if they go hand in hand? Is self care selfish? The idea might be tied to the guilt people tend to attach to caring for themselves first. Those who look to love and care for themselves first to help those close to them later are often labeled as selfish, with almost everyone forgetting that to do the latter, you always have to excel at the first.
Let’s dive deeper into the concept of self care and selfishness, to figure out the truth once and for all.
Why Do People Think Self Care Is Selfish?
There’s nothing wrong with celebrating yourself with chocolate, a day at the spa, or a satisfying workout routine. As feminist writer, Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that’s an act of political welfare.” How is this memorable phrase, now turned meme, making room for self care movements that talk about selfishness?
It appears the line is being drawn when self care becomes selfish: when it’s all about making yourself feel good, and not stopping to put all of this positive energy back into the world. Are you doing anything with all of this new-found energy? Many argue that the point of self care is to care for oneself so you can care for others better. Failing to do this is selfishness.
Next time you’re walking between the fine line of when self care becomes selfish, remind yourself of the below.
How Self Care Is the Opposite of Selfish
Self care is tied to a myriad of health benefits that expand from reducing anxiety to promoting overall wellbeing and sleep. Whenever self care gets tilted with being selfish, there are a couple of striking differences to keep in mind.
For starters, self care has benefits that go beyond yourself. When you take time to care for yourself, your energy will be healthier on all fronts, which eventually has a positive impact on those in your life. Your new positive energy affects your relationships, job performance, and more. Not to mention, the many health benefits you’ll experience. For example, a study found that adults over 65 who practiced self care had signs of improved health overall.
Moving on, someone that behaves in a self serving manner is someone that often lacks self care. Selfish persons tend to take from others to their benefit, whereas those who practice self care are all about replenishing their own energy without depleting someone else’s.
Following that same train of thought, having a selfish attitude makes people stay focused on their wants and needs, with no consideration for others. Self care involves setting boundaries to help people balance the energy they spend on themselves, as well as others. This way, the more you give to yourself, the more you’ll be able to offer to those close to you, your work, and projects.
Is Being Selfish Ever Healthy Though?
A recent survey revealed that 62 percent of Americans want to treat themselves even more than they currently do. As more and more people are lifting the stigma off self care, and getting rid of the guilt that often accompanies self care, the rise of being selfish is gaining a more healthy approach.
The trust is that being “selfish” is not always a bad thing. There are times when being selfish is a measure of wellbeing and health. Not to mention, sometimes caring for yourself is strictly necessary.
Everyone needs help from time to time, but we tend to avoid seeking help. Asking for help makes us feel incompetent, and in a world that celebrates those who “do it all,” asking for help is weak and needy. But asking for help is essential. Whether at work or home, seeking help is vital for maintaining our mental health.
Sometimes, you have to be selfish and leave a toxic work environment or relationship without really thinking about the other’s party feelings. It’s never easy to break up any relationship, but when those are taking more away from you than what they give you, it’s time to say goodbye. It’s not selfish to break up with a relationship or a job that’s not making you happy. If anything, it’s the greatest act of self care you can do for yourself in those situations.
Your health might be begging you to be healthy. When you’re feeling burnt out at work or in your personal life, taking time for yourself is imperative to self care. Find a way to separate yourself from that situation and reset the clock until you find a better balance. One that will help you avoid burnout and prevent yourself from getting sick in the long run.
A Word from GR8NESS
Self care and selfishness will always be tied together. To draw the line, always keep in mind that “you first” is always better, as long as you take the time (when you’re ready) to give back to those out there looking for help. If you’re lucky enough to practice self care, don’t forget to share your positive energy and wellbeing with those around you, this way you complete the circle and expand the benefits of self care beyond yourself. Remember, sometimes it’s fine to be selfish and care for yourself, especially when you need to care for others.