People who have a mental health condition often find themselves in relationships that require too much of them to the point that they leave themselves out of the picture.
This article will focus on the differences between being selfish and having the self-respect to take care of yourself first.
It Seems Counterintuitive
To many, it may seem to be counterintuitive to think of caring for themselves over someone else. While there are societal reasons for this thinking process, such a belief that we are important enough to care for or love is deeply ingrained in ourselves as people.
Growing up some people were taught that your husband, children, the neighbors, anyone but yourself should be the focus of all the mental and physical resources. To even utter the words, “I love myself”, in some circles is seen as vain and horrible.
However, the answer to any accusations that one is sinning or otherwise cheating their spouse or children is that if you do not care for yourself first, when you finally breakdown from the pressure of modern life, who will care for them then?
What is Selfishness?
Selfishness can be defined as being concerned only or excessively for one’s wants or for one’s advantage, welfare, or pleasure regardless of what others need. Selfish people are considered self-centered, users, and takers. They will take much but give little back in a relationship.
Selfishness is putting your wants over the needs of others. Not your needs, your wants. For instance, if you care only for your own wants such as buying an expensive phone, over the needs of your children for clothing and shoes you are being selfish.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is the act of doing deliberate things in order to manage and enhance our mental, emotional, and physical health. Good self-care is vital if one wishes to have good relationships where one’s needs are met.
Without self-care, we can become resentful, feel helpless, hopeless, and cheated. Lack of self-care breeds unhappiness and is a form of self-abuse.
What is the Difference Between Selfishness and Self-Care?
Taking care of one’s own needs conjures in the minds of some visions of neglected parents, children, and spouses. However, if we don’t take care of ourselves and become resentful or ill in the process, how will that impact the ones you love.
Using the example above, if you need the phone for work and sacrifices are needed to make that happen, then you are not being selfish, you are performing self-care. In the process of taking care of yourself, you are caring for your spouse and children because if you don’t have the needed equipment for your work and lose your job and their wants cannot be met.
Can you see the difference?
Selfishness = Putting wants over the needs of others.
Self-Care = Putting your needs over the wants of others.
The confusion around selfishness and self-care is very prevalent and women are especially vulnerable to this turmoil. So much self-doubt and even fear keep both men and women who confuse selfishness with self-care that they become prisoners of their own love for others.
Breaking free from the chains that bind us keeps us free of relationships lacking nurturance and even those where the spouse or other relative is abusive.
The next time you tell someone you met a need for yourself and they accuse you of being selfish, look them in the eye tell the no. What you did was self-care, not selfishness.
Who knows, perhaps they’ll go home and think about their own relationships.
To teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. […]”If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say; ‘Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!’ you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.” ~ Brenda Ueland
“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.” ~ Parker Palmer
“I lied and said I was busy.
I was busy;
but not in a way most people understand.
I was busy taking deeper breaths.
I was busy silencing irrational thoughts.
I was busy calming a racing heart.
I was busy telling myself I am okay.
Sometimes, this is my busy –
and I will not apologize for it.” ~ Brittin Oakman