When Is Self-Care Selfish?

2024-02 - selfcare_HassanOuajbir


When is self-care selfish? Never!

I don’t know when the notion of tending to your individual needs became a selfish thing. Even if you thrive on taking care of others, you must take care of yourself. If you’ve ever flown in an airplane you’ve heard the flight attendants instruct you, in the event of an emergency, to put on your oxygen mask first, then assist a child or another. Why? Because you think better when you are clearheaded and focused, and your response time is quickened.

How can you translate this mindset into your daily living? I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from clients over the years “I know I should make time for myself but I just feel guilty or indulgent.” They are referring to getting a massage or other spa-related service. Yet, when they lay on the table and surrender to the skillful hands of the professional tending to them their breath becomes deeper, their mind slows down, and their muscles start to ease and relax into the warmth of the atmosphere. This is where you empty the vessel of whatever you’ve been carrying around—problems, worries, responsibilities—and allow more space to breathe. In these moments you are replenishing your body, mind and spirit. After a session, you not only feel more relaxed, you feel more energized.

“Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.” — Katrina Mayer

If you could gain $1,000 by investing $100, would you do it? Of course you would! What about gaining 10 hours by investing one? It’s the quality of time and what you do with it that enables you to handle more with greater ease. When you feel better physically and mentally you spend your time on more fruitful activities. So why would you try to convince yourself that you are being indulgent? Why wait until you feel bad to do something about feeling better? You can prevent many health issues with simple, consistent self-awareness and care.

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” — M. Scott Peck

When you are disciplined with your money early in life (like saving more than you spend, living within your means) you will have more later. You see the wisdom in this thinking and are preparing for the future. That is part of self-care. When you don’t manage your money, you will just spend as you go and may not have as much to count on later. Likewise, when you take care of your mind, body and spirit you are building a more solid foundation to rely on in the present, as well as in the future.

So many factors shape and influence our behaviors. They can be from our environment, relationships, family, beliefs, education and media. Therefore, another key component of self-care is mind. What are you listening to, who are your mentors, and who do you spend time with? Read something every day. Learn something new every day. Be active in some way every day. Keep the balance between what goes in and what goes out.

What is beneficial to your well-being and what isn’t? If the people you spend time with don’t “get you,” it may be time for a change.

“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

I knew a couple who were in a long-term relationship and both enjoyed drinking a lot. One day, one partner realized it was too much and no longer wanted to be caught in that lifestyle. She stopped drinking, but her partner wasn’t on the same page. She became more lucid and clear about how she wanted to live and feel, and alcohol no longer served her for the good. While she encouraged her partner to join her, he was not yielding. She ended up leaving the relationship because the environment did not support self-care and growth.

Tending to your spirit is also essential for balanced living, and for developing faith, kindness and compassion for yourself and others. If someone asks a favor of you and you’ve been working all day or taking care of others and just need some time alone, that is the time to say “no.” Showing up for yourself in that moment is self-care. You will have other opportunities to lend a hand. Saying no may even enable someone else, someone who might just need to express their spirit, by being able to help! If all your friends are going out to a party and you just need sleep—staying home and sleeping is self-care. You will miss out on more than just a party if you are too tired to function.

My hope is that you learn what valuing yourself means, feels like and looks like. After all, you were divinely created on purpose, and what you have to contribute to this world and the growth of others is important enough to take care of.

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” — Sir Edmund Hillary

[Top: Photo courtesy Hassan Ouajbir/Pexels]