Self-care Vs. Selfishness: The Difference

Sep 5, 2018Mental Health, Self Care

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Soooo you have this recurring internal dilemma, are you being selfish or are you completing self-care?


You hear all this talk about taking care of yourself and taking time for self-care but how can you be sure that you aren’t borderline selfish?

You think you’re taking care of yourself but the people in your life constantly call you selfish, they may say that you don’t care about their needs or try to make you feel guilty for saying no and not doing things that you don’t want to do.


And you begin to doubt yourself, maybe you are being selfish, maybe you should give more.


Coming from someone who is usually the receiver of this guilt trip this made me begin to wonder these same questions.

Or maybe you’re like I was and thought that putting yourself and needs first is always selfish.

Well well well, I’m here to tell you, you’re not selfish and yes its ok to put your needs first.


If you’re still thinking “ What if I’m not giving enough or am I giving too much and leaving nothing for myself ?” “What is the fine line between being selfish and really just taking care of my needs?” This is what I have learned.

You are responsible for your needs and taking care of yourself.


The first thing that really helped me to differentiate between selfishness and self-care was this notion that I am responsible for my own needs.

It was at the time that I was beginning to learn that I am responsible for my own needs and meeting those needs, no one else.

I know right, this seems like common sense but so many of us don’t realize how much power we actually have.


So that means knowing that I sometimes need time alone to decompress or if I’m feeling stressed it is my job to recognize it and take a step back.

Looking for others to fill your cup and give you what you need will only lead to unmet needs and resentment.

When you are the one responsible for meeting your own needs you are empowering yourself to not only meet those but also take that responsibility off others.

It’s your job to look out for you and make sure that your needs are met.


Everyone else is trying to get their needs met as well and sadly no one cares more about your needs or is affected as much if they are met other than you.

By neglecting your needs, you are the one who will suffer. Remember while you’re giving to the world you owe yourself something too.


You have to fuel yourself


Now to point number 2.

Now as a person who likes to gives to others by volunteering my time to those I care about,  let me tell you its easy to get burnt out quickly.

I have a habit I’m trying to break of running around, making sure that everyone else is happy and I’ll get home and realize I didn’t get anything done for myself that I had planned.

Or I’m so exhausted I realized making all those plans wasn’t the best idea for my health.


I made being there for everyone else more of a priority than myself. 

Now I’m not saying that you can’t sometimes put others first.

However, I am saying that when I’m burnt out, exhausted and busy running I’m not giving my best to those I love. 

I’m tired and distracted, rushing and worried about the next event, I’m not fully present and I’m not able to give my all.

Now when I’ve gone easy on myself and my schedule, I’ve got my rest and did my tasks first I’m able to relax and enjoy the company of my friends and family.

I’m not rushing or thinking about what’s next or what I have to do I’m fully present which makes the experience better for me and those I’m with.

So, do yourself and your friends and family a favor and take care of yourself. 

You have to have fuel to keep going.

As they say, you can’t give from an empty cup.


So fill that cup full of sleep, naps, doing things that energize you, reaching your goals, at least that’s what I would do.


Do these first and now you have something from that cup to give rather than sad, tired you. You and others deserve the best you!


Also, you are giving to yourself so that you can better give to others, hence not selfish.


Self-care and boundaries are love

Do you want to know the best way to show yourself some good ol loving?

Boundaries! Yes, the very sexy boundaries and of course self-care.

Boundaries are what we put in place so that we don’t give more than we can or are able to.

This prevents us from giving everything to others while giving nothing to ourselves.


Self-care is saving I love and respect myself enough to take care of me first and show myself some lovin’ unapologetically.

The main difference between self-care and selfishness is in your intention.

Are you being spiteful or are you listening to yourself and what your mind and body needs?

You aren’t being malicious or trying to take from someone else, to make yourself feel better? Now that’s selfish.


You still care for those in your life and still consider their needs and requests but you realize that you have to take care of yourself first to be the best and give your al


Self-care and guilt


Of course, people aren’t perfect(as we can’t expect them to be) and relationships are messy so lets talk about what happens when people judge you for making your needs and self-care your first priority and when they hear you say those dreaded words…NO.


Whelp my friend people will be upset, people will try to make you feel guilty and judge you for your decisions but I’m here to tell you that’s ok but expect it.


Remember when we take care of ourselves we are choosing to honor ourselves and not to take anything from anyone.

Side note: If you are trying to be better for those you love and you’re not attempting to isolate others or carve yourself into darkness, then keep on loving on you.


So when you do question yourself look at the benefits self care has on your relationships from


-let go of resentment or others


-stop being a victim to the demands of others


-begin to experience joy, happiness and quality of relationships skyrocketed


-able to set limits and boundaries that help to give and receive, safeguarding both people in the relationship from resentment and bitterness


Those all sound like some benefits I want in my relationships, I don’t know about you.




Ok, so this is what I have learned so far. And today I give you permission to say no without guilt and spend some quality time on you today.

No you are not being selfish. You are doing what you need to take care of yourself. You are doing this to better give and better serve not only others in your life but yourself as well. And in doing so it will save you a lot of grief and improve yourself and your relationships.