When Does Self-Care Become Selfish

Self-care vs. selfishness. Is there a line that you can cross where you start cutting yourself off from the world and you’re not interacting in your life in the same way and could it turn into something that’s actually detrimental when you enter the space as ‘trying to take care of yourself.

Growing up I was surrounded by the opinion that denying yourself and not doing things for yourself was a sign of the ‘ultimate good’ and that comes from the bible and Christianity around me. It was always praised and glorified for people who would not do what they wanted to do always and I would get so annoyed because I would see people do things just because they thought they will get praised for it not because it was the right thing to do. Thinking back to growing up and what I thought was selfish to do is doing something good for yourself, that was always selfish. It wasn’t necessarily my parent's that they thought me that, it was just the environment I was in and how I understood behaviors like that and what they meant. Honestly, even though that was the basis of what was accepted around me, I was never really that way. I've always been all about self-care and taking care of myself first and of course, there are times where you have to put others first, that is absolutely amazing attribute to have in someone's life. There is also something to be said about someone who knows that the best version of yourself is going to be the best for everyone around you. So if you're taking care of yourself first, you're going to be able to be the best friend that you can be or the best partner you can be. If you think of your body as a machine, if something is wrong and broken and you're trying to function at full capacity for other people by ignoring your problems then you're not going to be able to do it, not able to be 100% for them in the ways you wanna be because you're not fixed.

I would describe self-care as making sure that your psyche and your body and anything that has to do with you, your needs are being met, you're taking care of yourself and you're considering the effects of your surroundings and how they affect you. Taking stock of your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being and examining what's happening and what needs replenishing. I love this idea of self-care vs. selfishness because there are a lot of roots around religion and how for so long people have been taught to make sacrifices, there is something so profoundly important about sacrifices and understanding what it means to serve others. Also, a lot of that stems from how we used to live as human beings when we were living in village environments where nuclear families didn't exist and we had to rely on communities to live and to thrive. It wasn't just about the parents taking care of the children, it was about the entire community coming together to take care of other people even if they weren't biologically related. In some cases, grandparents were the one who would typically take care of the children. They were a lot more people involved in the rearing of the next generation and I think that's also where a lot of this sacrifice came in to play and then as the nuclear family became more popular and just more of what we typically saw then that sacrifice started to look a little bit different. There was a lot more resentment involved there is also the issue of women being oppressed and not having access to the same opportunity as men.

All of this things layer on top of each other to create this world where people started to recognize that they needed to also take care of themselves as well but you do have to strike a balance between of taking care of yourself and also taking care of other people because I do think that one of our main purposes here in this life is to give to other people. We have to do that otherwise, we just won't be fulfilled and find deeper meaning in the life we are living so we have to figure out what we need to do with ourselves in order to be able to give that energy to the next generation of people.

You have these people in your life and you might be one of them where you just see them always giving, always doing things for other people and just really not focusing on themselves and you look at that person and you just wanna say 'hey relax! take a day off, do something for yourself'. That happens a lot of time with moms, having a bunch of kids and being constantly around your kids, have a clean house, do everything for your husband as well, so it's about not stopping those things but just adding time or taking time for yourself to be good to you. It makes things so much better. Doing all those things for all those other people can be really stressful or constantly having to be the backbone for whoever, whatever, your work, it can be so many different things. All that stuff is so much more bearable when you just take a little bit of time maybe every week or every day depending on what you need for yourself, is like oiling the machine.

When you make sacrifices or you're participating in any kind of service, you're giving something, you always want to understand what is your intention behind that is. Are you doing something out of guilt? Are you doing something because you just genuinely want to do it, are you doing something because it's expected of you? To really understand why it is that you are doing these things and to also examine if for example, if you're doing it out of guilt or because you feel like other people are relying on you or expecting it of you. Is this something that you really want to do but you feel like exhausted in some way and I think that in a lot of cases you can discover that, yes this is something that you want to be doing but you are feeling depleted either emotionally, spiritually, physically maybe all of those things and you need to figure out how to recharge or you may discover that this isn't something that you want to be dedicating your time to so how can you shift your intentions and energy towards something that actually is meaningful.

There is also the thing where there are people in my life that I can think of and I've cut out of my life because they're a selfish person, the core of what they do behind absolutely everything is always about them, it's narcissistic behavior and I can't deal with it. There is a difference between that and someone that is situationally selfish. You can be in a situation where you're acting little selfish or you do something selfish but it doesn't mean that you are a selfish person and sometimes it can be easy to mix those up especially if you're someone who is actively trying to practice self-care. There are people who are trying to use self-care as an excuse to be selfish. That's why it's important to know yourself and understand what self-care and also to not completely disregard commitments that you have made to other people. Commitment is profoundly important to every kind of relationship in your life and you need to be able to have the tools to objectively examine a situation that you find yourself in and recognize the times where you have to step up and be there even if do you feel exhausted, but what are you going to do later to take care of yourself.

I really can’t stand when people are flaky because it feels so selfish and not that I have canceled on people here and there, I can be pretty anxious and I’ll cancel when I shouldn’t but in general it wasn’t until recently even though I always knew that it bothers me when people are flaky because it just feels really selfish, it’s the same about when people are late. To me, that’s there ultimate my time matters more than your type of thing. I always get along with people who tend to be on time for things because we just share that core value of appreciating the other person time.

Recently I was in a situation where I been on a date with this person that I really liked but she was being so flaky and a lot of times flakiness early on in dating can be seen as the person is not ready to commit or they’re not prioritizing you because it’s early. She would just not make plans with me. She’d say ‘we’ll definitely hang out next week blah blah’ and then the next week will come around and she would be like ‘I don’t know I’m pretty busy I might be able to do this time.. but I’m not sure let’s talk that day’. We would talk that day ‘Are we hanging out?’ she would be like ‘Let me get back to you in few hours’. I get it she is a super busy person, I understood the fact that she wasn’t blowing me off so I was giving her some chances. After like few weeks of this where like she would randomly ask me to hang out when she had a pocket of time and if I was available and it worked, great. If not I would have to wonder when are we going to hang out again. I really like her and I knew that she genuinely was just bad at this but she failed to realize how selfish it was and she wouldn’t admit it and it drove me nuts.

I know at the core she and I just value relationships and people differently and this is a sign that if this were to work, it would take a lot of work in order to work out. I can see by the way she is handling these interactions about hanging out that ultimately she thinks of herself more than others and yes it is good to take care of yourself but that was taking care of her business first. I know I want to be with someone who is decent at planning and making an effort to have plans. In the end, planning and flakiness has a lot to do with someone’s selfishness.

That’s something that you learn with experience too as you find yourself in situations that you don’t actually want to be in at all. You learn to distinguish that that’s going to be one of those situations where you’re going to end up in and you’re going to realize that isn’t actually something that is deeply meaningful to you.

Whenever I find myself in a position where I don’t like the feeling that I have or I don’t like the situation that I’m in I will tell myself ‘remember how you feel right now and when you find yourself here again say NO or do whatever you have to do to not be in this situation’.
Self-care is all about bringing balance to your life because you could be on the one side or the other. You can be overly self-indulgent and self-care, in that case, would be adding a little more boundaries and discipline in your life vs. the other way where you could be super rigid and you need to relax a little bit. Self-care for everyone looks different, everybody’s needs are different. It’s about figuring out and being honest with yourself about what you need, write down or say it out loud and then think about what are your actions are doing to actually help meet those needs and if you’re lacking or if you overly in one area try to find some balance.

What the goal of self-care is to take care of yourself so you can expand that energy out in the world, so you can give to the world. Sometimes we see self-care as this singular thing that we have to do on our own when self-care can look differently. You can engage in self-care with other people, it doesn’t mean being alone. It might be if you are like me.

Blocking people is self-care. Not checking up on people who have left your life, is self-care. Don’t worry about having the last word, worry about caring for yourself.

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