So many times I hear people refer to things they are doing to care for themselves as selfish. It is almost like putting yourself first in any aspect of your life is a bad thing. There are these feelings of guilt that wash over us as we take the time to care for ourselves. We are thinking about all the things we should be doing, we could be doing for the others in our lives.
Self-love is essential
This is not true. Self-love and being selfish are two very VERY different things. Self-love is essential to your happiness, your ability to thrive, and your confidence. Self-love is taking the time to fit in exercise, healthy meals, massages, an hour away from your kids to take a walk, time to read a book. Self-love is crucial to maintaining you. Maybe the key is to stop thinking about taking care of yourself as selfish and instead think of it like you do an oil change on your car. What happens if you don’t keep up with oil changes on your car? What happens if you let your car run out of oil? It blows up. The engine dies. The car is rendered useless. Self-care is soooo important. You cannot take care of the other people in your life fully until you care for YOU.
Being selfish is operating with a lack of consideration for others. It is deciding that the needs of others just don’t matter to you. It is operating with complete disregard for the health, safety, happiness of others. It is so very different from self-care.
Taking time for you is NOT selfish
Just because you take the time to care for yourself does not mean you are not considering others. In fact, it may be the very opposite. If you can’t fully take care of others until you take care of yourself then you are doing just that — considering others. It is not selfish to have your spouse take the kids to their baseball game so you can squeeze in a run. It is not selfish to order in dinner because you are too exhausted to cook. It is not selfish to miss the monthly PTA meeting so you can go to bed early. Whatever it is, don’t feel guilty. Stop feeling guilty. Find the time to take care of you so that you can be the best version of you.
How do you practice self-care?
Self-esteem is a tricky thing. It plays an important role in our lives. It influences how we act around others, the decisions we make, how motivated we are in our career, and how we feel in our own skin. It is at our very core as people. And, while it is a crucial factor for both men and women, the way the different genders find that self-esteem, determine their self-worth, is very different.
Men find self-esteem internally. It is based on their personal accomplishments, things they are proud of. Maybe it is fixing a car, repairing a household appliance, achieving a career goal, or tackling a level in a video game. Regardless it is not about someone else telling them they did a good job, it is about that internal celebration and belief in themselves. That is not to say that it doesn’t help to have praise, but men don’t need it to find their self-esteem.
Women, on the other hand, tend to find their self-esteem externally. They rely more on external validation — be it praise, a “good job,” a smile, hug, laugh, whatever it may be. Women, while they might know deep inside that they have done a good job, still need to hear it from others. They have a harder time trusting in themselves and a harder time feeling good about their achievements without receiving some type of external validation. This is also why women tend to spend a lot more time worrying about their outward appearance — be it the cleanliness or look of their home, or their personal appearance.
You don’t see a lot of men worrying about the look of their wallet, and a lot more men are inclined to go out in sweats and not care what others think of them. Whereas a lot of women won’t leave the house without makeup or their hair done.
It is these differences that can make it harder for women to have high self-esteem. Women worry much more about what others are thinking of them than men do. I frequently encourage women to look deep inside and find those good qualities about themselves and to let go of what others may think. What is inside is what really counts, and how we talk to ourselves can make a big difference.