You must have heard people call you selfish when you put your needs before others. People throw this word left, right and centre without knowing the real meaning. Let’s just take a moment to analyse these two terminologies.
By definition, someone would be considered selfish if they are “concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure or well-being without regard for others”.
Now, don’t you think only people with apathy would fit in this definition? Apathy is common in people with dementia than in healthy older people. Around 50–70% of people with dementia have apathy, whereas only 2–5% of older healthy people are apathetic.
While interpreting this definition, we observe that even if the person does think of themselves, they want to seek that gratification without thinking about the other individual.
For instance, if person A wants to do well in their assignment, they steal person B’s assignment and don’t even bother to return it or tear it after they manage to copy their work. Here they took advantage of the other person thinking only about themselves and not the other person. They only care for their own success and growth.
Let’s go on to the aspect of self-care. By definition, it means the “practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness in particular during periods of stress”. When we need something, whether to put our own needs emotionally or physically, it’s never selfish.
For instance, if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed and you have to also help your mother or even your friend, but you decide to take a rest instead, it’s normal to do that because you are not in that condition to help anybody else but yourself during that time. So, just like health, why can’t we do the same for our mental health? Why is it considered to be selfish then? Do give it a thought.
Last but not least, Katie Reed says, “Self-care means giving the world the best of you instead of what is left of you.” If you cannot care for yourself, then how can you take care of the other individual?
Next time anybody tells you that you are selfish, just remind yourself that they don’t know how to care for their own self, but you do, and that makes you a self-aware individual who knows what your body or mind needs.
Please do remember though, it’s alright to be a little selfish in life. You don’t need to feel guilty. But never stop self-care. It’s a zillion time more important than not caring for yourself and putting other’s people’s needs in front of you.