Self-care is not selfish

Have you ever been on the verge of doing something caring for yourself, and then been stopped in your tracks when you heard that little voice – the one that says: “You are being selfish!” The one that makes you feel guilty for even thinking of doing something for yourself?

Do you find that the idea of caring for yourself first rarely enters your mind?

Or perhaps you hear the voice that says others will think you are selfish or uncaring if you take care of yourself first ...

It’s amazing how simply thinking about caring for ourselves can bring up so many uncomfortable feelings – of guilt, shame or being judged ... to name but a few.

Is it really selfish to care for yourself?

Just like a detour sign that is continually diverting us away from caring for ourselves – if we believe self-care is selfish, we will never choose the path of true self-care and find out just how different life can be.

Have we been brought up to believe that self-care is selfish and that:

  • It is our role or duty to care for others
  • We have to make sure others needs are met first
  • Self-care is an occasional treat, when everyone else has been taken care of
  • Sacrificing our needs for the sake of others is what makes us a ‘good’ person
  • Others deserve our care more than we do
  • We are not really worth caring for

But at what cost?

As a Registered Nurse and mother, subscribing to these beliefs eventually took its toll on my body. I became exhausted, depleted and overweight. This was a huge wake-up call, as I realised that sacrificing my own care for others wasn’t a true or sustainable way to live. Constantly caring outwards was literally draining the life out of me.

In reality, without self-care I had little of myself left to give to anyone else.

A decade of deepening my relationship with self-care has shown me a very different way to live, and I now know without a doubt that self-care can transform anyone’s life.

I’ve learned that I can:

  • Stop buying into those beliefs and self-sabotaging thoughts
  • Wake up feeling alive and ready to embrace the day ahead with energy to spare
  • Value and appreciate myself and how my body feels
  • Say "No" without feeling guilty!
  • Be more patient and gentle with myself and others
  • No longer need to care for others to feel good about myself
  • Inspire others to also care for themselves

As a result of these changes, I now feel inspired at work. I enjoy spending time with my son and the interactions and connections I have with people.

It now feels normal to make self-caring choices, such as going for a walk to enjoy the early morning light or preparing healthy meals that I can freeze for those nights when I get home late. I can now say “No” as it feels natural to ask myself: “If it’s not self-caring, why would I choose it?”

In discovering the truth about self-care and what it can bring to your life, you have nothing to lose but your exhaustion!

We have so much more to offer our families, work and relationships when we care for ourselves first. What we really need to ask ourselves is:

Is self-care selfish – or is it selfish not to self-care?

The truth of self-care is the opposite of what we have been raised to believe! It is actually selfish not to self-care, and by caring for ourselves we are truly caring for everyone.

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  • By Fiona Lotherington, Registered Nurse and Body Awareness/Esoteric Yoga Presenter.

    I have a passion for health and education. I love walking, singing, dancing, going to the gym, writing, cooking and sharing time with friends.