Self-care is Not Selfish But You Might Feel Alone

Social circles of Influence

Many times I feel like a stranger because I don’t want to do what they want.  

Pilot was perplexed and sad. 

This is familiar to me.  There are lots of these times.  When I was a kid I didn’t know to call feeling like a stranger, “normal.”  I didn’t know I wasn’t alone.  I thought feeling like a stranger was qualified bad.  In the older Me, part of Me knows.  The rest of Me is conflicted.

Talking about self-care is like that sometimes.  I don’t know yet how to consistently teach others without hurting them.  

Self-care is not selfish, I say, but it doesn’t make sense.  

They hear me and the long anticipated enemy they knew would come suddenly wears my face and uses my mouth and voice.  People look at me in horror.  I watch their faces blanch and despair, as if they know they are holding a fork and knife to defend against magic and they will die a martyr’s death.  

No.  It’s not like that, I say.  

But they don’t hear more.  They crouch in a thicket.

Researcher, Jennifer Walters, describes how social influences such as team-based competition leads to a healthier BMI (basal metabolic index) and weight loss.  We may say, “Um, yah!?!” as if everyone knows that from Biggest Loser.  But just like holding an apple looks like crunchy food to Mary, John see’s a projectile.

It must be researched.  It must be said.

We don’t believe that taking care of Me is selfless.  We are scared.  To love ourselves means being alone and feeling the stranger.  Taking care of others “first” intuitively tells us that we are connected and right. This is a distortion.

I argue that this intuition to care for others first is not our friend.  The intuition to care for others first is not friendly when it is driven by fear of being alone, fear of being the stranger.   At some point in the timeline of selflessness to selfishness we find that we cannot.  We have ruined and thereafter cannot care, serve or do much for anyone but take. Now we, without getting consent from those same others, are in a place of being served.  We didn’t ask our loved one(s.) 

Would you like to take care of my wasted self?

We didn’t ask if it was ok with them that they be put in the position of now being our own caregivers. To answer their wants before our needs is a trick on them, an exchange for us taking care of them now for them taking care of our needs later when we cannot.  But we didn’t ask. We didn’t make a transparent negotiation.  If they knew we were taking care of their wants before our needs or wants, if we knew, would we un-crouch, step out, hear and consider?  However, we responded before we felt alone.  We gave before we felt the stranger.  We didn’t ask, we didn’t consider and now we cannot.

Growing healthy involves the sometimes happy journey towards a knowing that giving to self long enough becomes someone who gives to others; long enough a stranger to grow familiar.  And it isn’t selfish.

Caregiving for others starts with caregiving for Me.

Question:  How does becoming your own friend separate you from those you want close?  How do you survive feeling alone long enough to know that you are not?  When the stranger becomes familiar, does it make that time and difficulty worthwhile?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care Tip – Remember, self-care is not selfish, even when you feel alone.

10 thoughts on “Self-care is Not Selfish But You Might Feel Alone

  1. whoa, you mean i am not the only one who’s feels totally alone in taking care of myself?! that other women look at me in abject horror when i leave the house to go and walk and allow my daughter to make the dinner and son to help etc. (they are teenagers) because walking is good for me and it brings me peace and joy! i know they are thinking . . . how selfish! and i get to come home to dinner and the joy of watching my children having provided a meal for us! its a win win. they have learned they are capable and they contribute and what they do and how they are has value and honor. they matter.

    i had to take baby steps to selfishness or self care. a tub with tea after dinner (now i sometimes go for a tub and the kids bring tea and do the dishes). i am learning to ask for what i want, and really for me that is not easy. i am saying no and putting what i want first. not in a rude way just a calm way. its pretty cool. the world has not ended, and if i have offended people that is none of my business what others think of me. sometimes though that’s hard too. that is where God comes in thankfully.

    my sister who is a work horse and 10 years older recently said “you take such good care of yourself”. ha, because i learned to say no!
    because i learned to do what i wanted after i did the things in day that were necessary as a mother, wife and wage earner.

    it was small things, a tub, tea, the right soap, a book, a show i like on tv. knitting, walking, visiting with friends for tea, choosing where i wanted to walk, or just starting out and seeing where i ended up.

    SPEAKING MY TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! now that is good self care. and it is not always pretty so i do it ugly and hope that those around me love me and don’t take offense, because i don’t mean offense.

    i am alone a lot. i go for walks alone, etc. my husband does his thing and we all do our thing, and its just lonely these days. i guess because i am doing my own thing. one day i was trying to find someone to walk with and no one could . . again . . so i decided to walk by myself. and i roused out of my pitty place to realize that i was going to be my own good company that i wasn’t alone, i had me.

    and that was the turning point. i loved my walks by myself. i truly stayed present and in the moment which you don’t if you are with someone else chatting. i saw the trees and the sky, everything so differently and i started a love relationship with ME. i know that might sound weird and i wasn’t expecting it but one day i was taking photos and just being in the moment and i realized i was so happy and there was another emotion and it dawned on me it was love. i was in love with me, with life, with the leaves and the trees and everything in the present moment. it was stunning. i don’t always have those moments but when i do, wow. i like me and i like being selfish and taking care of myself because when i come back from whatever it is i was doing for me. i am way way way happier and no one else is responsible for me, and i engage in a completely different way.

    everyday i try to find time just for me, even if its just a few minutes or more if i can because like anything the more i do it the more i stay in a good place in love with me and my life, full of gratitude. and that’s a good thing for my loved ones and my children, guess what, they have self care too! because we teach our kids those lessons as well.

    thanks for the great topic Sana


    ps hugh jackman in an interview with oprah talked about self care. he takes a half hour every day for meditation. now that guy is busy! he said he goes and just does it and everyone understands in the family. he explained that you shower and take care of your body, why would you not do something like that. it stuck with me!

    • lol col. u nailed it. u speak truth. narrative is better than many lectures. speak. it isn’t always intuitive, befriending oneself. parents can have separation anxiety too. saying, “i’ll let u make your own sandwich today” is as much as saying, “i’m likable w/o doing what you like all the time” and that takes momma-sized cabongas. way. keep on.

      • thanks sana. its a journey and i take it in baby steps or big honking giant steps sometimes. i just know from my Soul that i have to do this. there is no other way.

  2. I think it helps when we realize that the alone is a part of our total selves and that having an alone part is not abnormal and we should cultivate it. But if we let it become all or most of our parts the depression and isolation and fears all start to generate.

  3. Yes, it’s not selfish to take care of ourselves. If we don’t, then others have to. It may sound selfish to put our health first, but someone needs to. If we take care of ourselves, then we can put more into other things.

    • direct, clean and blunt comment – sometimes the best to have. thanks duck. i wonder though, would u b willing to tell us how this has played out in your ability to b friendly to yourself and how it has played out in your connections w others? smile.

      • When I don’t take care of myself, like when I overwork myself, it makes me unhappy, and then I may not be my best with others. It certainly benefits me when I force myself to slow down and think more about my health than the work I could be getting done. And then I won’t be cranky with others. And won’t later feel guilty for being cranky with others. Just recently I had to slow down and take a break from working on my comics. It was making me really tired, and I realized it wouldn’t hurt to stop working on it for a few days until I felt a bit better. Sometimes you have to do less to get more out of life. And only I can make myself slow down, so I must be the one to do it.

Leave a Reply