Self-Care is Not Selfish
It seems to me that ‘self-care’ is an emotionally charged concept or buzzword.
It’s only two simple 4-letter words: self and care. Yet those two words conjure up images and emotions just by reading them (or thinking about them.) And there’s even specialty adverbs like ‘radical self-care’ or 'extreme self-care' to add even more emphasis (and possibly confusion).
I’ll admit that when I first heard the term ‘self-care’ I was turned off by it. Who had time for that? Not me! The words 'self-care' conjured up only self-indulgent activities like bubble baths, spa days, and massages.
And then there’s the common misunderstanding that self-care is selfish (I’m raising my hand on that one, too ). And I know I’m not the only one because so many of us were brought up to put other people’s needs before our own. Many of us have also been taught to look outside ourselves for validation and to hustle to prove our worth and lovability. Self-care doesn't fit into that model at all. And some of us might have even been told that we were selfish, self-centered, or greedy if we didn’t put others before ourselves.
Last year I was talking to a colleague of mine who told me that she was actually called selfish by people in her own family when she had the ‘nerve’ to openly state what she wanted for her life. At the time, she believed what they said, so she spent the next several years watering down her desires so she wouldn’t make anyone in her family feel uncomfortable.
If we want to connect with our calling, make an impact, leave a legacy, follow our passion, live our joy, or express our talents, then we need to learn to embrace the idea of self-love, self-care, and putting ourselves first and not fall into the false belief trap that putting ourselves first or loving ourselves is selfish.
It’s Not Selfish to Put Yourself First
Here is what self-care is NOT:
- Narcissistic behavior
- Ignoring the needs of everyone around you
- Acting without regard to anyone around you
Here is what self-care IS:
- Being in touch with your own feelings
- Getting enough sleep and resting when you’re tired
- Eating healthy
- Being active
- Embracing your talents and skills
- Not saying ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no’
- Treating yourself like the loved one you are
In a nutshell, self-care is deliberate action that we take for our physical, emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual well-being. Self-care entails doing whatever we can to make sure our fuel tank is filled so we can function at our best in the areas I mentioned above.
You can’t help anyone else from an empty tank. You might live longer – and healthier – if you engage in some self-care and put yourself first once in a while. That means you’ll have longer to offer your care, concern, and consideration for those you love.
Self-care can put you back into balance. It allows you to be your best you, not just for yourself but others as well. When you have taken care of your own needs, you will have the energy reserves to give to others from a full heart, without resentment or anxiety, without expectations or guilt.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what Dr. Christiane Northrop wrote:
“As a doctor, let me tell you what self-love does: It improves your hearing, your eyesight, lowers your blood pressure, increases pulmonary function, cardiac output, and helps wiring the musculature. So, if we had a rampant epidemic of self-love then our healthcare costs would go down dramatically. So, this isn’t just some little frou-frou new age notion, oh love yourself honey. This is hardcore science.”
You deserve to treat yourself with the same level of care and compassion as you treat others. You deserve to experience the happiness and fulfillment that comes when you connect with your self – you know your dreams, desires, passion, and calling. And connecting with that means you need to take some time out to determine what makes your heart sing. And once you’ve determined what that is, say ‘yes’ to yourself by putting some of your needs on your ‘love ‘em up’ list.
After all, you are also a loved one, right?
Say YES to yourself by engaging in some self-care activities.
Janet is a transformational coach who helps women move beyond the negative voices in their head so they can unleash their purpose, unmask their self-confidence, and uncover possibilities that they have been blind to. Bottom line: she helps them to stop settling, start soaring, and experience the magic of their dreams again. In other words, living their ALIGNed life.