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Self Care vs Selfish

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

– Buddha

As a therapist, I know the importance of self-care to make me more effective with my clients. Being in a caring role, it's vital that I take care of my own needs and practice from a full cup.

For many women, being perceived as caring is an integral part of our identity. Putting others before ourselves seems to validate our worth and our sense of self.

A man will more easily shrug off an accusation of selfishness. After all, part of society's definition of manliness involves a striving toward self-enhancement, ambition, competition, and aggression.

For women, an accusation of selfishness hits harder, since an ethos of caring is seen as the bedrock of the concept of femininity. The desire not to be seen as and not to feel selfish seems to motivate and shape the lives of women in general, more than the lives of men.

In order to truly practice self-care, we need to distinguish between selfish, selfless, and selful. (The following is adapted from Kay Counselling)

Selfishness is defined as being concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself or seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others.

The most commonly used term is where someone only ever thinks about and focuses on themselves and their own needs. This is a choice that someone makes and is not done unconsciously, this term when used means the individual doesn’t concern him/herself with the needs of others.

This can result in the individual feeling alone, having limited or no friends, unable to maintain a relationship, and or constantly having arguments with other people. Selflessness Being selfless is thinking of other people before yourself.

Selfless is the opposite of selfish. If you're selfless, you think less about yourself and more about others, you're generous and kind.

Being selfless is similar to being altruistic — another word for giving to others without looking for personal gain.

If you give time, money, or things to other people without expecting something in return, that's selfless.

Most people would agree that the world would be a better place if there was more selfless behaviour. This term relates to people who solely care for the needs of others and not their own.

Individual who is selfless will always consider others' needs, views, and opinions over their own and as such always put themselves second.

An individual who is selfless can end up feeling resentful and angry towards others, feeling alone and feeling as though their own needs are never met and aren’t considered by others.

Selfulness This is the ideal state to be in as this term relates to the individual who is able to care for their own needs and the needs of others. This is a choice the individual makes; if they’re able to help others, they do so and if their own needs need to be met, they put themselves first.

This is having regard for yourself and regard for others. An individual who is selful can feel balanced, knowing their own and others needs are being met, feeling content and being able to choose when they help others and when they help themselves.

Selfulness means filling up your Soul and Self from the inside. Looking after yourself is an important part of living a happy and healthy life.

To practice self-care effectively, we need to embody the quality of selfulness.

To continue working on self-care check out my self-paced Self-Care & The Inner Child workshop here:

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