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    Self-Care is not Selfishness

    By: Kelly Beyer, LPC

    Don’t be selfish, you cannot do this, go there, stop that, start this…what about me?  Sound familiar?  Common phrases that are heard when you are trying to do something for yourself.  It does not matter if you have just done 10 things for someone else and pushed your wants, your needs aside, you may hear those words or even feel those words – Selfishness.

    Doing for yourself, putting yourself first is not being selfish, it is self-care.  In fact, self-care and selfishness are not on the same continuum.

    According to the Oxford Dictionary the definition of selfish is, “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”  Whereas the definition of self-care is, “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”

    Defining self-care versus being selfish is important in order to understand and hopefully begin to allow oneself time for self-care as it is detrimental to our overall well-being.  Being called selfish for taking care of yourself is just a tool of manipulation (against another or ourself) but it suggests you are not worthy with an added bonus of guilt on top of it.  Sometimes these thoughts can increase the stress that the self-care would have help to reduce in the first place.


    Caring for yourself does not take away from others, nor does it mean you do not care about others, it means you care enough for others that you are taking care of yourself so that everyone around you will see the true you.

    So what is self-care?

    • Personal Hygiene
    • A balanced diet
    • Exercise and/or leisure activities
    • Sleep 
    • Meditation
    • “Me time” (anything you like doing alone)
    • Taking a walk
    • Going to a movie, a live theater production, a band…
    • Reading

    The list is endless as the ideas in your head, the point is to do it for you not someone else.

    So what is not self-care?

    • Putting others ahead of you
    • Obsessively checking emails all day and into the night
    • Engaging in activities that make your blood pressure rise
    • Working through lunch
    • Putting your “stuff” aside to attend the needs of others first (even family)

    Self-care refuels rather than takes from you

    The short-term effects of pushing self-care aside gets the to do list done and maybe even gives you the verbal accolades we all love but long-term…it is not sustainable and a burn out is right around the corner.

    It is easier said than done right?  That is why the need to make the commitment to yourself is key!  Promising yourself to take time to yourself is a way of promoting self-worth, showing yourself that you do matter.  

    For those situations where you cannot make changes…that is when it is imperative to remember you need to take time to recharge after!

    Above all:  Self-care is self-love!

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