Selfishness vs Self-Care

Selfishness vs. Self-care

A few years ago I had a counsellor suggest to me that I needed to work on self-care. I thought my self-care was fine.

I eat mostly healthy – especially if you consider chocolate a health food.

I exercise – sometimes sporadically but I’m regular in my irregularity.

I visit my chiropractor and massage therapist regularly – once a year is regular right?

What I didn’t know (besides this previously noted self-delusion) is that there was a whole area of self-care I was neglecting. I had never paid attention to what was really going on in my mind.

Learning to pay attention to what is really going on inside me has been a challenging lesson.

My mind stewed in a lot of half-truths – Just put your head down and work harder and everything will be okay.

It clung to a few lies – You really have nothing to offer here.

It blatantly ignored several truths – You’re bored and lonely.

I truly needed some self-care but my view of self-care was skewed…thankfully, when you go through enough life crises, they have the potential of sorting that out.

Grab Your Oxygen Mask!

We all know too well the reference to the oxygen masks in airplanes – you have to put yours on first before you can help those around you. That analogy is so overused because it is so desperately true. You can’t help others if you are gasping for air and about to pass out. Grabbing that oxygen mask is crucial so you can continue to give to the world. I repeatedly say, “There are people out there that need you to be fully who you were created to me.” The world needs you to show up but first you have to stop being selfish and learn to take care of yourself. Does that sound like a contradiction? Let’s explore the difference between selfishness and self-care…(and by the way, you can do both on a beach!)

Selfishness vs. Self-Care

Self-care involves paying attention to your body, your mind and your soul.

Selfishness involves ignoring those things and listening to the urgent, the immediate and the cravings.

Selfishness says “I deserve ________ (a drink, this food, this binge-watching). Selfishness says you deserve all kinds of things that don’t result in health. Selfishness chooses to deal with stress in ways that eventually cause more stress. The drinks and food lead to weight gain which leads to more negative talk or even self-loathing which drives you back to the food and drink. Selfishness is a cycle of craziness.

Self-care says, “I will feed my body well. I will look after it with movement that challenges and strengthens it. I will pay attention to the pain that is trying to communicate something to me.”

Selfishness ignores the depression, the anxiety, the pain in the neck and shoulders, and the churning stomach. It tells you you’re too busy. It convinces you that stuff is normal for people who are doing important things like what you are doing.

Selfishness Ignores Depression, Anxiety and Pain.  Self-care Pays Attention

Self-care though says, “It’s time you started to pay attention to what is going on in your body. It’s time you dropped the guilt about taking time for yourself and start taking steps that lead to health in the future. It’s time to stop ignoring that pain. Your body has a nasty way of forcing itself to be heard…one day it may force you into recovery. Listen to it before it chooses to completely shut down your frenetic activity. Yes, you are doing important things but you need to be able to continue those things and so much more far into the future.

Selfishness demands you overwork and place extreme demands on your body.

Self Care balances challenging yourself with adequate recovery time.

Selfishness tries to appease the negative thoughts with immediate gratification – buy something, eat something, watch something. Selfishness ignores the deeper implications and looks at the immediate now. It ignores the negative thoughts and paints it over with some positive platitude. There is a place for thinking positive. There is a place for gratitude but neither of those come at the expense of paying attention to what is truly going on in your mind.

Self-care means taking time for quiet and solitude. It means paying attention to those voices you’ve ignored or silenced for too long. What are you really feeling that you’ve ignored for too long? What are the thoughts behind those feelings? Are those thoughts true? Write them down. Take the time to journal it. Look at it. Find someone to talk to about it.

Selfishness Allows the Inner Critic to Carry On; Self-Care Learns to Not Listen

Selfishness allows that inner criticizing to carry on. On the surface that doesn’t seem selfish but that negative inner critic will keep you from developing. It will stop you from connecting with people who need you. It will hold you back.

Self-care means paying attention to that negative inner critic, finding out where it is coming from and learning to push past it’s limiting voice.

Selfishness – ignores that you might have a greater purpose. Selfishness doesn’t allow you to go deeper spiritually. It demands a perfect outward appearance so people think you’ve got it all together. Selfishness keeps you busy. Running. Juggling every little thing so you look perfect on the outside. Selfishness is satisfied with surface, polite prayers. It whips off “God bless you. God bless me.” fast prayers.

Self-care works toward peace – not just for everyone else but also for yourself.

Self-care acknowledges that you aren’t perfect and your life isn’t perfect. It allows space for letting some things go. It focuses on progress not perfection. It works for peace – not just for everyone else but also for you. It pays attention and evaluates those things that are driving you and those things that are holding you back.

Selfishness forces you into roles – the martyr, the hero, the victim. Self-care recognizes Jesus died so you don’t have to. God is the hero not you. Both of them do what they do so you are not a victim.

Selfishness cycles crazy busyness. Self-care takes time to read and reflect.

Selfishness stuffs. Self-care ponders and prays

Selfishness recites empty prayers. Self-care involves messy prayers…honest prayers.

Selfishness stays alone, disconnected, unheard. Self-care reaches out, connects, communicates.

Selfishness is about getting what you want now, in the easiest, fastest way. Self-care is about getting what you need in whatever time it takes.

Selfishness Isolates; Self-Care Connects

A few years ago, my chiropractor pushed his finger into a spot in my back sending me bolt upright. “That,” he says, “is a problem with family, finances or future.  Which is it?” To which I snapped, “None of your business. You’re my chiropractor, not my counsellor. Just fix it.” Looking back, he was so right. I was so ignorant to what my own body was telling me. 6 surgeries and several crises later, I understand. That doesn’t mean I have it all figured out but I’m working on it. Are you?

What have you learned about self-care?  What unique lesson has your body taught you? I’d Iove to hear about it.

Grab your free Self-Care Recording Sheet here!

2 thoughts on “Selfishness vs Self-Care”

  1. Carolyn Mulholland

    Trish, a timely read for me. Thank you for sharing this undervalued message that fails to reach the ears of those who need to embrace this. I still to this day struggle every time I’m on a flight and hear those words that confuse my mind. The oxygen mask message goes against every fibre in my body. It’s a daily, sometimes moment by moment examination of the thoughts behind the actions. Rewiring and firing different neurones to produce different results.
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you Carolyn. I love your comment “goes against every fibre in my body.” It’s so true and so often we wait until we are about to pass out before we realize we need the oxygen mask first! May your days be filled with life giving oxygen!

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