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  • Writer's pictureDr. Keisha

Selfish vs. Self-Care

Updated: Mar 8, 2019

Currently, so many of us are caught up in providing for our families, taking care of children, taking care of other family members, and producing within the workplace.  And although we are more than happy to meet the needs of others; we sometimes struggle with meeting our own individual needs.  Or maybe we do not have a difficult time meeting our needs – but doing so without feeling guilty! 

I have heard people say they feel guilty if they say no, guilty if they do not give their siblings money, or experiencing feelings of guilt for not offering their already limited time to others.  They report feeling selfish.  Selfishness involves a disregard for the feelings of others, and more importantly, focuses only on advancing self.  However, self-care involves prioritizing your needs; while being aware of how your needs impact others.  Self-care can involve negotiating (selfishness does not).  For example, instead of saying “yes, I can do that this Saturday” (knowing that you are already overwhelmed), it may be better to say, “This Saturday is not good; but I will be more than happy to assist on another day or time”. 

Self-care means that you make time to be alone, workout, engage in a hobby or doing anything that is emotionally, mentally and physically nurturing for self. 

Self-care makes you a better support for those around you.  I like to use the example of the father who is terribly ill but will not take off work and continues to attend his children’s outdoor sporting events.  His reasoning is that he cannot bear the thought of missing a game and does not want to let down his team at work.  Yet, he does not realize that he cannot be fully present for his team or children if he does not focus on self and stay home.  Get rest!  His inability to nurture himself puts others at risk.  Let us not forget that he could possibly become worse making him more unavailable for others.  It is interesting that despite being well-intentioned, his lack of self-care could be perceived as selfish.  

To summarize, I encourage people to find healthy ways to prioritize their self-care needs. The inability to do so can lead to feelings of resentment and anger toward self and others.  In addition to feeling better, one may find that they become a better employee, mother, brother, spouse, student and/or parent.

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