Is It Self-Care or Selfish?

OK, so here’s a radical thought… What if I told you that putting yourself first is not selfish?

I mean, before you all of your loved ones…
Your Family and friends…

What if I told you that taking care of yourself is how you can best take care of them? Sounds crazy right…?

These days, we’re becoming more and more aware of the benefits self-care can provide. And with that, we’re starting to invest more in our mental health by seeking ways to stay psychologically and emotionally healthy.

The way I see it, although we have a long ways to go in the fight to end stigmas surrounding mental health, we’re coming to a place of acceptance that our well-being is hinged on the healthy balances we have in our life.

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness

Sometimes people use the terms Mental Health and Mental Illness Interchangeable. They lump both ideas into one and treat their management the same. Unfortunately, this just isn’t true and believing so is how both your health and illness are mismanaged.

Mental health is the well-being of one’s emotions, cognitive activities, and psychological functioning. It can affect your physical health, relationships with others, and your overall daily life. Being mentally healthy ensures that you are able to live in this world comfortably. It means you’re able to have a good balance between the things you can control and the things you can not.

When we have good mental health we are resilient and able to handle life’s challenges. We’re able to make strong connections with people and good decisions. we can function at a high, healthy level.

mental illness refers to a wide range of disorders that can affect your thinking, mood, and ultimately your behaviors/actions. It’s shown through distress at home, work, school, or any social interaction. Mental illness is not something you can “overcome”, it’s something you can manage. This is due to the fact that mental illness can be caused by a number of things from biology to trauma.

So, About Self-Care…

Self-care is the most utilized response to illness–kind of like the go-to treatment. It’s similar to when other parts of your body are sick in that sometimes the key to getting better is best remedied with simple rest and relaxation. But sometimes the answer isn’t bubble baths and champagne. Sometimes self-care is carving time out for exercise or hanging out with friends.

It can also be used to maintain your mental health. In this way, self-care acts as a preventative strategy. By actively being in tune with how well you’re balancing your emotional, social, and psychological wellbeing you can better recognize mental illness when it occurs.

Either way, self-care is always a display of self-love. It’s things you make time for because you’ve recognized that that’s what you need to feel good and whole. And, no matter what form it comes in, it feels amazing.

Thinking of yourself before others goes against the idea of selflessness. It contradicts the objective of “doing good” and “being good”.

Self-care, although generally met with open arms, has also been hit with controversy and apprehension. This idea that you take care of yourself, first and foremost, has a way of being deemed selfish. But self-care isn’t an act of selfishness…. It’s an act of self-preservation. And being able to care for yourself shouldn’t ever involve the impossible expectation of sacrifice.

Saying No

You don’t have to be a people pleaser to feel the guilt of having to say no.

I mean, sometimes it’s easy, right? Sometimes it’s something completely out of the scope of your abilities or willingness. It could also become easy to resist when the ask is from a person that you don’t have an intimate connection to and therefore wouldn’t feel the pain of their disappointment. But what if you’re asked by someone you love.

A parent or family member..
a best friend..
a partner..

That’s when it becomes difficult to deny them. You may even begin to consider giving up the comfort and safety of yourself to appease them. And why shouldn’t you? We’ve always been taught that we should be of service. We should be helpful and accommodating to those around us. A good indication of how “good” of a person you are is how many times you’re able to help someone. It’s measured in deeds and not the self-sacrifice it to took to do so.

Saying no is not necessarily an act of selfishness.

Again. Saying no is not necessarily an act of selfishness.

No one knows you better you know yourself. So, if you don’t have the ability (physically, mentally, emotionally, etc) or the means (whether it be money or time) to do something, don’t. It’s that simple. And there’s no need to explain your answer. Not even if the reason is that you simply don’t want to.

maintaining good, healthy relationships is hinged on honesty and mutual respect. You can strengthen the bonds you have by being authentic in who you are and what you are capable of.

Taking The Time

Making time for yourself is also seen as being selfish.

In particular, taking time away from your family, marriage, friends, or job, can often seem self-centered. And if done incorrectly… It can be. If your self-care involves the neglect of any other area of your life, you’re not doing it right. And when I say neglect, I mean it causes harm. For example, if you take a personal day from your job and it causes you to miss important meetings or fall behind on your work, you’re actually being counterproductive in your effort to feel better. Being absent from your job is now going to produce more stress and pain.

It’s all about balance.

So yes, you can be a caring person who also practices self-care. It’s this little distinction between self-serving and self-preserving that helps with that. To be self-serving is to put yourself above all others at the expense of all others. When you preserve yourself, you’re giving yourself everything that you need but your well being does not adversely affect anyone else.

So, be not afraid of the Self-Love Movement. It won’t be the end of kind people, it’s actually the beginning of producing more folks who have the mental and emotional ability to be kind.