Do you ever ask yourself, “Is it ok to be selfish?” Do you feel you have a right to make choices that are just for you? Is there ever a time in your life when being selfish is what you need to do? Or do you feel allergic to the word — break out in hives just thinking about it?
The word “selfish” creates conflicting emotions for many people, especially women. On one side, it feels good to think of yourself and not have to always be “on” for other people. Then there is the other side that society has created regarding a woman’s role — that being selfish is not what we would ever want others to think about us. It would be best if you were more nurturing and feminine; thinking of yourself doesn’t support that.
Why are we so fearful of being thought of as selfish? Mainly because we have a distorted interpretation of what that means. It’s an all-or-nothing syndrome. We are either selfish or caring. It’s time we stop being fearful of the word and instead see the possibilities where choosing an action that supports you is the right solution to a situation in your life.
Being honest about our needs and wants is essential. It’s in honesty that we add the most value to the people around us. Resisting self-care is dishonest and hinders having a truly intimate relationship with yourself and others.
When you turn off the option of choosing for yourself, you turn off your ability to change and nurture yourself. Balance is crucial in life — between nurturing others and nurturing ourselves. Both options enhance who we are as people.
How Others React
Of course, if you haven’t been honest and started to be now and focus on your needs, others will react and won’t want the change. Does that make it wrong to be selfish? Or are we just afraid of not being loved if we choose to take care of ourselves?
What if women were to see selfishness as “devoted to or caring for oneself?” What if we acknowledge that we are the only ones who can care for ourselves as we know what we want? What if selfishness was good for you and others as well? If you cared for yourself and were true to your needs, would others suffer, or would they learn to care for themselves instead of looking to you for all their nurturance?
Many women believe they are to be the nurturers, and selfishness is considered an undesirable trait. Yet, what if they are wrong and the undesirable trait is focusing all of your attention on others — being co-dependent?
A person who doesn’t perform self-care acts becomes burned out and has to find different ways to care for her needs. These women may get angry, frustrated, overeat, feel alone, zone out in front of the TV, or overwork so they don’t have to look at their ability to care for themselves.
Remember, extreme beliefs promote extreme behaviors to maintain and manage a view that doesn’t serve you.
Even if you have young children who need care, there is always time to care for yourself in a day, to carve out time just for you. That’s what selfishness is about – caring for yourself in small and significant ways. We don’t have to go from caring exclusively for others to focusing only on ourselves. Instead, small self-love acts for ourselves enhance our lives and those around us.
Stand up and be self-caring today.
Words are powerful, and sometimes we can’t change how we react to a particular word. If your mind shuts down on the word “selfish,” and you won’t even think of playing with that word, how about choosing another word that supports your well-being? Is replacing the word selfish with self-care, wellness, time for oneself, and self-love better terms for you? Find the word that best fits your self-care vision and incorporate actions that support it.
Women’s Group Topic
In our group, this topic generated many different perspectives on the word or meaning of “selfish.” Several of us couldn’t get around this word and needed to find another word to help us view caring for ourselves as essential to enjoying one’s life. Words are powerful.
Yet, it’s about self-care and self-love that each person needs to add to her life. How does each person in the group perform self-care?
“To fully enjoy the ‘richness’ of our lives, we need to stop long enough to visit with ourselves.”
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