We all know that self-care is important, that understanding our needs and protecting them is good advice, don’t we? We also know that sometimes we have to compromise, even sacrifice our own needs by putting others first or in order to keep the peace.

Where do you draw the line? At what point does self-care really become selfishness? And isn’t selfishness sometimes justified?

It can be tricky to answer these questions, particularly if you’ve never really given them much thought. Now’s your chance to put that right, and to start to understand and know the difference between self-care and selfishness:

List six things you do to take care of yourself-

How much time do you spend in a typical week on these activities?

What do you think is the difference between self-care and selfishness?

Self-care is . . .

Selfishness is . . .

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is it to care first for yourself so that you are in a fit state to care for others? (1 = low, 10 = high).

What has prevented you from taking care of yourself until now?

When and in what circumstances do you do things to take care yourself even though others might perceive it as selfish?

Over the next week notice and record the times when you are forced to choose between self-care and acting in a way that someone else would prefer.

These are reflective questions; there are no ‘right’ answers. They might help you develop a new perspective. If it seems that you could do more (or less) for yourself you can take corrective action. Consider that – in order to function well and give your best to others – you first need to practice on yourself. Conversely, if on reflection, you genuinely feel that you are neglecting someone, you’ll know what to do.

When in doubt, ask yourself “Is this justifiable self-care or is it selfishness?”

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.


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