Selfishness can be justified and it’s necessary to understand how to protect yourself if you want to be ble to continue giving. Many carers struggle with this. Most of us probably have a fair idea of how best to look after ourselves, yet still we fail to do it. The risk is stress and eventual compassion-fatigue and even burnout.

 If you want to be the best partner, parent, friend, carer, or colleague that you can, you have first to care enough about yourself and your needs.

Self-care is about making sure you have the spare capacity to be available to those your care for or love, Selfishness, on the other hand, reflects a me-first attitude, aiming to get what you can for yourself and ignoring the needs of others. And beware! Selfishness can also involve self-deception; it drives you to you delude yourself that you are empathising when you are not.

Being selfish means having a lack of consideration for others, or taking from others what is their due for our own ends. Selfishness is concerned mainly, as the title suggests, about the self.

Caring for others

Taking the time you need to care for your mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual needs is not selfish. The opposite is true; making time for proper self-care is a selfless act. It is necessary to ensure that you remain fit and able to care for others.

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.

I have written an activity that can help you start to clarify your thinking around this question.

Download: Exercise – Self-Care of Selfishness

See also: Set your Boundaries