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?
“I just want someone to love me.” Let’s think about this phrase for a minute. I hear it quite often.
While it might seem harmless on the surface, is it really? It’s true—everyone does want to be loved. Everyone wants to feel cared for, appreciated, and truly madly loved. But this method of thinking about it is dangerous. This thought process could be what is leading some of us into bad relationships.
We are thinking we want this one thing so badly that we are losing touch of the process of connecting with another. We are losing ourselves. We are desperate to be loved by another that we are jumping into any old relationship and staying in it—whether we are happy or not — because we want to feel loved. We want to be loved.
Fill your own bucket
Are you relying on someone else to fill your bucket? What about you? What about your goals, your hopes, and dreams, the stuff that makes you special. You need to work on filling your own bucket and finding that love inside you so you are not so reliant on others. Learn to love yourself. It can be a difficult thing to do but it is crucial to your happiness. The only person you can ever truly rely on in life is yourself. You need to take care of you, to trust in yourself so that you can find that true connection with another.
It is amazing what can happen when we love ourselves. The relationships we get into are healthy ones, they are beneficial to us and truly meaningful. They are not born out of desperation or need but rather true attraction and connection. So rather than relying on others, we need to start relying on ourselves. Fill your bucket. Do what you need to do for you before you go hunting for love.
So often we try to fill the void in our hearts with something. We feel alone, sad like something is missing. We enter relationships with the wrong people. We turn to unhealthy habits like overeating, alcohol, shopping, gambling, or drugs. We are desperately trying to feel whole. In truth, there is only one true thing that can fill that void, one thing that cures our loneliness—its love. But, not love for another or love for a thing, it is love for yourself.
Learn to love yourself
When you learn to love yourself, you are not alone anymore. You don’t need to find a person, a thing, or a vice to cure your loneliness. You just need to dig deep inside and recognize your inner being, all the beautiful things about you. Now I know that for some of you this is a hard thing to accomplish. It is that voice in your head that is always telling you what you did wrong, how you messed up, how bad you look in that shirt, or how much weight you have put on. And to that, I say— stop! Shut that voice down in your head. Stop the negative self-talk. When you tell yourself something over and over you begin to believe it. It is all you can hear.
Go out and live your life
Recognize all the good about yourself. And believe me, there is so much of it. Love yourself for the wonderful human being you are. Love yourself for being uniquely you. Identify your strengths, all the positives and lift yourself up. Cut yourself some slack. None of us are perfect. Stop comparing yourself to others. End your loneliness, and love you. Fill that gap with an appreciation for your life and go out and live it.