Selfishness and Self-care...
When we think about the meaning of these words, there seems to be a fine line between the two ideas. But first, let's turn to a quick Google search to obtain a working definition of what it actually means to be "selfish."
The Oxford Dictionary conveniently defines the term "selfish" as, "...lacking consideration for others," or being "concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure."
This is basically saying that the essence of selfishness involves a potentially unconscious inconsideration for others. Meaning a selfish person does not even take the time to consider the desires, perception, or feelings of another. Better yet, this definition of selfishness asserts that one's primary concern is themselves.
With this understanding of selfishness, it is easy to see how well-meaning and nurturing individuals get taken advantage of, burnt out, and fed up with unreciprocated love and affection in relationships.
I have once heard that a relationship is like two containers. Each individual contributes to the other person's love container, but they can only contribute to their partner's container from what they have inside their own love container.
If one person contributes from their container into their partner's container and this is not reciprocated, then that person will simply run out of love. Thus, the relationship deteriorates.
All relationships have ups and downs (many times due to mental illness), and sometimes, one party contributes more to the other's love box than what it reciprocated.
So then, how can one continue in that relationship when they are "running on E" in their love fuel tank?
Well, that's where self-care comes in! Self-Care is distinctly different than being selfish. Self-care is about re-energizing, refreshing, and equipping yourself with the necessary mindset and power to accomplish what it is you set out to do.
Think about it—a firefighter cannot save people from a burning building without first equipping themselves with self-protective equipment. That would be absurd! So then, why do we consistently attempt to over-extend ourselves and attend to others' needs when we are not appropriately emotionally equipped to do so? This leads us down a bitter road to resentment and exhaustion.
Instead, ask yourself these questions:
Why am I doing this to myself?
Do I deserve more?
How can I take care of myself so that I am appropriately equipped to be truly beneficial to others?
Some advice—take a break! Spend some time loving yourself and filling up your own love container before exhausting all the contents of your love container on someone who does well to neglect your needs. Take some time to do something you enjoy. Take a walk in nature by yourself. Treat yourself to something special. Indulge yourself. Be vocal about what your needs are. Spend time loving yourself because, quite simply, you are worthy of it.
Equip yourself first with the mental, physical, and emotional power to love yourself. Then, others will see a more authentic, genuine, more loving, and more fulfilled you.
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About Sam Nabil
Sam offers therapy in Boston and Boston Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety. Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university, Yahoo News, USA Today, Marriage.com
Naya Clinics offers Marriage Counselors near me, individual therapy near me, and life coaching near me in various locations across the USA and the world. Naya Clinics also offers Online marriage counseling, online therapy, and online life coaching.
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