I have heard this from so many people over the years I have lost count. Including myself! Many years ago, I viewed self-care as being self-indulgent. “How can I possibly put myself first? That feels so wrong.”
Sound familiar? You are not alone; in western society we are often conditioned from an early age to believe that self-care is selfish.
What does self-care do?
Self-care is not the same as selfish. Self-care ENABLES you to give to others by restoring your internal resources (wellbeing) without causing detriment to others whereas, being selfish means there is a desire to take from others to their detriment.
Practicing good self-care requires routine and “protecting” the time to do it. This means implementing boundaries to protect your time, for example, with my first child, I realised I was trying to do it all, to “be all”, to be the perfect mummy and it just wasn’t possible.
Going for a walk to clear my head, meeting a friend for a coffee, or going to the gym were important because they allowed me some space to re-charge and remember that I am mummy AND I am Alison.
Don’t get me wrong, this was not easy, it took time and practice to release some of that mum guilt (which I’ll explore more in another blog.)
Practice being the important word here; it does take practice, to explore, experiment and implement what works for you. The forms of self-care that work for me may not work for you.
Self-care isn’t about how much money you spend on yourself, it IS about how much you invest in yourself through valuing yourself, protecting time for yourself, making space for yourself, recognizing when you need a break, reaching out to others and allowing others in.
Restoring our wellbeing encompasses our feelings; being in touch with and giving space to what we are feeling (positive and negative) is a form of self-care. This helps us to identify when we are projecting our feelings onto those around us which affects our relationships.
Tips to recognise self-care vs selfish
- If you feel you are being selfish, gently ask yourself (as you would a friend) “would you say this to someone else?” This enables you to recognise that you could be being too hard on yourself.
- Gently remind yourself that saying “no” sometimes is not selfish
- Incorporate this affirmation into your routine; “I am worth investing in”. This helps to foster feelings of self-worth around incorporating self-care.
- If you notice that you are putting your needs above others a lot of the time to their detriment, acknowledge this and give yourself space to reflect on what this means for you.