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Redefining Selfishness When It Comes To Self-Care

Self-care has become a common hashtag decorating social media feeds and advertisements, and it’s about time it became highly valued. We could all take better care of ourselves. However, many of us don’t realize that some practices our minds, hearts, and bodies require are indeed powerful acts of self care that we have defined as selfish.

Self-care isn’t just face masks and bubble baths, or getting a massage, working out, and meditating; it can be anything that you need to do for you. It’s accepting and allowing your needs in any given moment, and checking in with yourself so that you can be aware of what your body and soul are asking of you at any given time.

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Unfortunately, many of us remain stuck in the thinking that allowing yourself to meet your needs is selfish.

Practices that we may think of as selfish, such as saying no to a social invite or to someone’s ask that doesn’t work for you, canceling a plan because you just cannot do it today, speaking your truth even when it conflicts with others, and just allowing yourself to be a human being with real needs, are not at all selfish.

If you do not take care of yourself, you will be of no use to others. So, while you may think it is selfish to put yourself first, it is actually the best thing you can do for others. When you are well taken care of, you can be more helpful to those surrounding you and a more enjoyable presence to be around.

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Being selfish in a positive way can mean caring for yourself, so perhaps it’s time to redefine the word for ourselves as doing what we need to do for our wellbeing so that we can be better humans in the world and in our relationships. Of course, selfishness in this sense doesn’t mean hurting others or doing whatever you please at the expense of other people; it just means letting yourself be fully you and doing what you need to do.

With this new definition, selfishness actually becomes quite the opposite of our traditional associations with the word. Instead of putting yourself above everyone else’s needs and taking care of yourself at the expense of others, you are actually making sure you’re able to care for others and be the best human you can be in this world. Being selfish enough to take time for you is highly valuable. Making plans with yourself, and putting your health, mental and physical, at the top of your list is how you can be a better human.

Taking time for yourself can feel difficult and out of the norm in a culture that prizes business as so trendy; if we’re not dizzyingly busy, we aren’t doing enough. It’s become a measure of our worth, our extreme overwhelm and spreading ourselves too thin a sign that we hold value, which could not be more untrue.

Making time to care for you is far more valuable than falling into the busy trend and letting the hustle carry you away from yourself.

If we just fly around at rapid speed, rushing and racing away our time with blinders on, we only end up missing so much life and draining ourselves. As a result, we become less valuable to those around us because we are so depleted that we burn out. If we rush so much, putting other’s needs above our own, we only crash and burn. This is what leads to disease and stress based illness. Instead, take time to be you and be a human being with needs, emotions, and desires. 

There are so many ways to self care that we may not realize. Acts such as:

  • Cooking nourishing meals to feed your body
  • Saying no to events you don’t feel able to be your best self at that day
  • Not spending time around people who drain you
  • Saying yes to things you do want to do
  • Letting yourself eat as many cookies as you need in a day without judgement
  • Making art or being creative
  • Anything you make time to do that increases your wellbeing, even if it’s doing literally nothing, crying, or watching a cheesy rom-com
  • Forgiving someone
  • Tending to your mental health in whatever way you need
  • Releasing a toxic relationship
  • Speaking your truth
  • Getting a full night’s sleep or letting yourself sleep in
  • Treating yourself to your favorite meal or buying yourself a present

Selfishness can mean living your life the way only you can and being aware of your internal state, which in turn helps you communicate more clearly, express more love, and move through the world with more positivity radiating from your well cared for soul. Be selfish, take care of yourself, say no, or say a wholehearted yes, and do not feel guilty.

And as a fun bonus, be sure to check out this 30 Day Self-Care Challenge

About the Author

Isabela Minogue

Isabela attended Lewis and Clark College, the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, and Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy. Her interests include ceramics, baking, being outside, poetry, and dancing. Her long term career goal is to do positive and loving work in the world to help people, and to inspire, lift, and spread as much light as possible to other humans.