Selfishness vs. Self-care

As the new year begins to unfurl, many of us have made resolutions to become slimmer, smarter, or more successful. Even on this blog, we're running Mission:2013 in an effort to achieve something amazing during the year. But at some point, you have to ask yourself, "Am I being selfish?" The line between being selfish and doing something for myself has long been blurred. When it comes time to do something that isn't technically necessary but is enjoyable and greatly contributes to my overall health and mental state, I often find myself asking if I can use my time/money/energy in a different, better, less indulgent manner. Getting monthly massages is a good example: Are my monthly rubdowns enjoyable? Yes. Do they contribute to my overall physical and mental health? Absolutely. Are they technically necessary? No, not at all.

A few weeks ago, Kate Northrup posed the question: "At what point in time did we let it become hard to desire?"

Good question. Why is it so hard for women to desire? Does it go back to that blurred line between being selfish and taking care of ourselves? To, on occasion, put our own wants ahead of those around us? Yes. A resounding HELL YES.

So where is the line between selfishness and self-care? At what point does doing something for yourself stop being about taking care of your wants and needs and become something more self-serving? I believe that it's whenyou stop taking others' needs and limitations into consideration.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with indulging in a little aromatherapy, monthly facials, a shopping spree, etc. But when partaking in those activities infringes on the resources of others without their permission, then it drifts into selfishness.

Let's go back to our example of getting monthly massages: receiving the healing touch of a trained professional offers me relaxation, removes or reduces the knots in my back, and promotes the clearing of mental clutter. In order to make these massages happen, I have to make sure that my children are cared for and that we have enough extra income to cover the cost of the treatment and the inevitable tip that goes with it.

Most of the time, my husband is the one caring for our kids while I get rubbed down. To keep from drifting into selfishness, I coordinate my appointment with the times that he is available. This usually means taking a (very hard to come by) weekend time slot or one late at night. If I were acting out of selfishness, however, I would book an appointment at whatever time worked best for me and then demand that others rearrange their resources around my treatment, whether that means my husband coming home from work early or using our family's monetary resources on a babysitter. For the record, both of those options are viable in order to promote self-care, but they cross the line into selfishness when you fail to ask permission before demanding others' resources of time, money, and energy.

Where do you draw the line between being selfish and practicing self-care? Leave a note in the comments!

This post was originally published on lynndaue.wordpress.com. It was lightly edited on January 19, 2016.