Is Self-Care Selfish?

We have posted several times about the importance of self-care. Let’s delve further into the concept and discuss the roots of “selfishness.”

Selfishness, in the dictionary definition, means “lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.” A focus only on yourself and your needs and desires is of benefit to no one else, and actually is often at the expense of others. A narcissist who cares only for the self offers little to the greater good. If you are selfish, you are usually inconsiderate and unconcerned with the opinions or needs of others. You do not care what is harmful to others, but only what is harmful and beneficial to yourself.

selfishSelf-care is critical to your well-being. As the often quoted adage goes, on an airplane you must put on your own oxygen mask in order to care for your companion. Another analogy: You can’t give water from an empty well. Knowing and tending to your needs, mind, body and spirit, equips you to live a fulfilling and healthy lifestyle. Tending to those needs before helping others – not instead of, but before – ensures that you have the ability to be all you wish to be for other people in your life.

Self-awareness is the root of this level of self-care. To know how to best care for yourself, you of course must know what is needed. You are aware of course of your basic needs – food, water, clothing and shelter. But you are also aware of your social, spiritual, and mental needs. You know that you thrive on times of solitude and don’t choose to attend a party, or perhaps you know that you are energized by being with crowds. You may be fulfilled by meditation and prayer, or prefer a more outgoing way to tend to spiritual needs. You know that your mind needs stimulation to relax and so you choose more active ways to stay mentally healthy, or perhaps you prefer more solitary activities such as solving puzzles or reading a mystery book.

Self-care, therefore, benefits you first, and then others. When your life is well-balanced, you experience more happiness, and tend to have more personal resources and desires to be altruistic. You feel more creative, more energetic and more present, and more able to give and receive love.

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