Do you ever find yourself asking, “Is choosing self-care making me selfish?” I wrote a blog post in 2016 titled Selfish vs. Self-Care and if I’m being totally honest, I think about it often as it’s really become a foundational pillar in my life. And I believe has played a pivotal role in shifting the way I now teach yoga and meditation to my students on a daily basis.
In this post, I talked about how I had been seeing a lot of my daily choices as being selfish:
I enjoy my time alone. I enjoy being able to do what I want, when I want. I don’t want to feel pressured or guilted into hanging out with someone. I like to go to bed early and wake up early. I prioritize my health with the food that I eat and daily workouts.
The friend that I was talking to about this then stopped me and said:
What if we change how you’re referring to these things? How about you call it self-care, instead of being selfish, because that’s exactly what it is.
At the time I was single, I had no children and no pets. My only real commitments were to show up for my job and pay my bills; both of which were happening. So why was I feeling so bad?
I continued on to talk about how I struggle with the balance for myself when there is someone else who wants my time and energy. In all honesty, this is still something I struggle with. I often put others wants, desires, and needs before my own (hello, to my fellow people pleasers). I fail to speak up when it doesn’t feel safe for me to do so, even over the small things. I allow others’ energy to bleed into my own. All at my own detriment. This is something that I’m working on daily.
Self-care has become such a buzzword over the years. It often coincides with bubble baths, massages, manicures and pedicures, spa days, and luxurious vacations, and while all of those things can be self-care, what about the small, simple practices that can help fill our cups on a daily basis?
It’s important to make sure we are all giving ourselves some time for us; some time to put our feet up, relax, or do something that makes our hearts and souls happy and fulfilled; something that allows us to take the stress that life constantly throws at us, and find a way to break free from it. Those moments are us choosing to be selfish, they’re us choosing to care for ourselves, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
The caveat I would make to that original thought is that it’s not us choosing to be selfish in those moments. It’s actually a requirement.
- The idea that you can’t pour from an empty cup is not wrong.
- The flight attendants reminding us to put on our own oxygen masks first before helping others is not just for shits and giggles.
These things are all a requirement for our own survival.
- If your tank is empty, how are you supposed to show up for anyone else?
- If you can’t breathe, how are you supposed to help someone else?
That’s why I talk (maybe you could say stand on my soap box and scream) that it’s about the small, consistent practices that we do every (or most) day that help fill our cup. These are the things that bring us to life, make us feel more connected to our most authentic selves, and show up better in our lives and with the work and people that matter most to us.
- It’s the movement that feels best in our bodies.
- It’s the opportunity to turn inward and listen.
- It’s diving deep and getting real with ourselves.
- It’s boundaries, fun, and consistency.
- It’s the people we surround ourselves with.
It’s the 5 components of connection (mindful movement, meditation, self-care, journaling, and community).
So the next time you find yourself feeling guilty or selfish for making time for yourself or allowing others to make you feel that way, I want to remind you of this important fact.
Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s a requirement.
Finding the balance is hard, I won’t deny you that, and it’s something that I’ve found requires time and deep work, but I have a feeling that most of us are not anywhere near even tiptoeing toward the line of being selfish.
Take this as your gentle, friendly face nudging you to take just a little more time for yourself today. You deserve it.