Although selfishness and self-care might sound similar, they are completely different. Selfishness can be described as only looking out for oneself while completely disregarding the feelings of others. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary and thesaurus, egotistical, self-absorbed and narcissistic are synonyms for the term selfish.
So how is self-care different? According to a Psychology Today blog, self-care refers to focusing on oneself and one’s own feelings so one doesn’t project them onto others, causing them harm and bringing negativity into relationships. Taking care of oneself is important to have a healthy mind and body so one can have a positive and healthy reflection toward others. Self-care allows individuals to focus on themselves so others can benefit, whereas selfishness is focusing on oneself at the expense of others.
Think of the body and mind as a gas tank. Filling up the gas tank with the proper gasoline allows the car to run longer without any problems. Filling up the body and mind with positive thoughts and good experiences, eating healthy food, exercising and practicing self-reflection are all ways to build a stronger body and more compassionate mind that enable a person to help others who are struggling.
Self-reflection is an important part of self-care. Self-reflection is looking within oneself and asking, “Am I happy?” If the answer is “no,” it is important to explore the reasons. Some areas to explore include personal and work relationships, job fulfillment, and a living situation that is conducive to adequate rest and self-care. It is extremely important to practice self-reflection to fix any problems in these areas so that one doesn’t displace these thoughts and feelings onto others.
A selfish person would recognize that he or she is unhappy and try to fill the void with superficial things while neglecting the feelings of other people. Individuals who practice self-care recognize that, to treat others how they would like to be treated, it is important to first love themselves so that they are capable of loving others. That is the major difference.
If you or someone you know is struggling with self-care because of an addiction or mental illness, Sovereign Health Group may be able to help. For more information, call 855-683-9756.
Written by Kristen Fuller, M.D., Sovereign Health Group writer