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Self care or selfish?

11 replies

pleaseloveme · 27/04/2021 10:00

I've had a difficult life in many ways, sexual abuse in childhood, parental emotional abuse, 2 marriages, one failed and 2nd one now rocky. 3 bouts of cancer (all different types) and boatloads of other awfulness in between, that are relevant to my self-image (or lack of) I'm sure, but I don't want to bore everyone by listing the whole lot.

Anyway, I've seen references to self care, and treating yourself the way you would treat others etc and I want to try and turn my life around as much as I can by starting to treat myself properly, but I don't know how or where to start. I've been told my whole life by my parents, that I'm selfish, so I always see anything I do that's not for anyone else as irrelevant and a waste of time and money. I'm 66 now though and if my 2nd marriage collapses I have no idea how to go on with just me in my life. I've had 5 children and always prioritised them in everything (and still do really). I have no idea what I should do to prioritise myself without feeling I'm being a horrible, selfish cow.

So, what's the difference please between selfish and self-care? and where do I start?

OP posts:

Ponoka7 · 27/04/2021 10:08

Selfish is when you are actively letting others down, or neglecting your children's needs, or someone you are in a relationship with. So doing a hobby when your other half is needing you to attend a hospital appointment with them etc.

What is your grooming routine like? Do you do things that you enjoy? Two of mine were getting and keeping my nails nice and having Fun, to do lists. I'm going to Edinburgh zoo to see the pandas. Hampton court palace is on the list.


LagneyandCasey · 27/04/2021 10:12

Learning to say no is a good place to start. So many of middle aged women were brought up to always please others, especially men. It's very difficult to just switch that off. I've found once I've done it a few times it becomes easier. At 66 you should be enjoying your life and looking forward to doing what you want to do and not worrying about what's expected of you. Of course you will still be a supportive mum/friend/partner but not ALL the time. Ending your marriage is not selfish if it's past saving. You need to take a deep breath and think about your future. At 66 you've still got a lot of living to do. Make it count. Can you book yourself some time away to have a really good think about what you want?


heartcake · 27/04/2021 10:18

Personally I think self care starts with liking yourself. Being kind to yourself. Putting yourself first occasionally.
I had a difficult childhood and adulthood all based around being disliked by my parents. Yet they still wanted me around to control me. I got told by my mother that no one loved me, nor liked me.
I went NC in my loud 50's. That was my first but of self care. Caring about my own well-being instead of theirs.
It's baby steps, but listen to the compliments and kindnesses and look inwards and see what people see that's good in you. Do a little thing each day to make yourself feel better, eat a cream cake, call a friend, help someone else or just sit in a lovely garden and breathe.


Trisolaris · 27/04/2021 10:26

Not putting others wants above your needs is basic self care. E.g My friend would like to go shopping but I’m not feeling well. It’s ok to say no.
It would be selfish to put your wants above others needs e.g My partner is ill and needs supports but I want to go out with my friends so I’ll let him go to the hospital by himself.


Sova · 27/04/2021 10:32

I think it goes down to how do you feel when agreeing doing something for others. If you have energy and resources and you've met your own needs and then do something for someone else, you'll only feel better.
But if you're struggling already and then do something for someone else you'll end up feeling resentful at some point.
So you've got to ask yourself first how you are feeling, what do you need. Are your basic needs met and how you can meet them... this could include simple things like enough sleep, talking to others about your problems, nice food, paying your own bills and buying yourself things before giving money to someone else. Good luck xx


Dogfan · 27/04/2021 12:23

My therapist said just do what makes you happy for a while and don't worry about making decisions or berating yourself for not doing things while you're having a tricky time. She also said think of things that make you feel relaxed and like a treat and try to recreate those so for me it was lots of lovely dog walks, cuddles with the dog, clean sheets and pjs (there's nothing better!), maybe a nice bath with a book (maybe a glass of wine!), yoga or meditation (if you're into this). These are all quite little things that bring you little moments of joy.


DifficultPifcultLemonDifficult · 27/04/2021 12:27

Maybe start with dropping the negative connotations around the word "selfish".

I really don't think its a bad thing to be sometimes. Actively hurting someone else is different than putting your own needs above theirs.

You've had 66 years of putting others first all the time. Who has done that for you?


witheringrowan · 27/04/2021 12:33

Self care isn't about pampering sessions, doing your nails or face masks. It's about making sure your needs are met so you are then in a position to be the best version of yourself.

So for me, it's taking the time to cook properly, making sure I protect my lunch hour so I have a break in the middle of the day, ensuring I get out in the fresh air for a long time at weekends. If I do these things, it's easier to manage other problems, and I can be a better friend/family member/employee, and actually be in a position to show up for other people. That's the opposite of being selfish.


username12345T · 27/04/2021 12:35

Self care is putting your needs and care first, above those of others.

For example, you're asked to do overtime but haven't been sleeping well recently and just want to go home and get an early night. You put yourself first and say no.

You look after yourself: exercise, eat well, good night's sleep, clean home, fresh sheets, little treats. Treat yourself like you're special and are deserving of kindness and care. You're really doing inner child work and treating yourself with mindfulness and self compassion.

Another part of self care is ridding ourselves of toxic relationships with friends or family who don't treat us well. That's also a part of looking after yourself, surrounding yourself with kindness.


HollowTalk · 27/04/2021 12:35

Who is going to think you're a selfish cow if you put yourself first now and again?


Seriously79 · 27/04/2021 12:36

I would start slowly.

This week treat yourself to a lovely bubble bath, get a nice body moisturiser, and a lovely smelly candle. Tell yourself Saturday night 9pm your treating yourself to a luxurious pamper in said bath with your new bits.

Next month book a massage/ manicure/ hair appointment.

Read that book you've been meaning to get.

Watch that box set.

Xx enjoy

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