Self-care-based decision-making is the habit of regularly asking yourself whether what you are about to do really serves you. That may sound fairly straightforward, but simple is not easy, especially when people tend to equate self-care with selfishness.
There seems to be a boatload of confusion about the difference between healthy self-care and selfishness. Is that selflessness and generosity or is it the quickest way to work yourself into feeling overwhelmed, physically ill, and resentful?
Can healthy self-care ever be selfish?
How can taking good care of yourself lessen your ability to be there for others in a supportive, loving and useful way? By healthy self-care I am referring to setting good boundaries, getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, not abusing substances, taking time to simply be, and investigating what energizes you and what depletes you. All those behaviors allow you to have the necessary emotional and physical stamina to be more useful to yourself and others. Last but not least, when you give, you will not give to the point of feeling overwhelmed and resentful.
Overwhelmed resentment, especially when it’s left to fester, often results in physical issues. Healthy self-care is a preventative life strategy. A holistic way of taking responsibility for yourself so that you can actually function at a higher level while feeling more grounded and nourished.
What is selfishness?
Is it always thinking of yourself before other people? If so, that’s not what I mean. Healthy self-care is setting good boundaries, stopping over-giving, truly being in touch with what serves you and what exhausts you. They are never selfish behaviors as they ultimately help you and everyone else. Not only that, they set an example for other people of what it means to have a more balanced life imbued with true kindness to yourself and others.
Shifting from over-giving to healthy self-care requires awareness of what you have been doing as well as how you would like to do things from now on. It can be helpful, at various times during the day, or when journaling, to ask yourself:
- Is this what I really want?
- How is what I’m doing right now serving me?
- Will this action help me become the person I want to be?
- Am I over-committing myself?
- Can I allow myself to be comfortable saying no?
- Am I carving out enough time for my own rejuvenation?
- Does my life feel balanced or out of kilter? If it’s out of kilter is there even one small thing I can do to help me feel calmer and more in control?
- When I look back 10 years from now, what will I think of how I’m currently living?
- Do my daily actions and activities support my deepest values?
- If my behaviors are all about giving myself away, what does that say about my relationship with myself
You may want to start with one question, as it’s quite a lot of self-inquiry at one time. Those are simply suggestions.
Your own body, mind, and spirit are always telling you what’s right for you. The difficulty is acting on that knowledge; especially, if you call it selfishness.
It’s not a competition between what’s good for you and what’s good for the people in your life. As hard as it may be to believe, when you take really good care of yourself it will always redound to other people’s benefit.
All day long you have opportunities to decide what you’re going to do. If you’re in the habit of taking good care of yourself your decisions will be filtered through that lens. If you’re in the habit of over-giving your decisions will be filtered through that lens. Only you can decide which truly nurtures your heart, mind, body, and soul. It’s never too late to switch gears. It’s never too late to patiently, gently, and lovingly take care of your own sweet self.
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Copyright Nicole S. Urdang
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