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Doing What’s Right for Ourselves is Not Selfish

Self-care is often mistaken for selfishness and it is important to be able to distinguish between these two concepts. When we behave in a selfish manner, we are only thinking about ourselves, however when we engage in self-care, we consider our own needs, as well as those of others.

If we repeatedly ignore our own needs, we can start to feel like a victim of other people’s demands and be susceptible to emotional exhaustion and feelings of resentment.

There are times when our needs will be in conflict with the needs of others and choosing to prioritise our own wellbeing is okay. Honouring our own needs does not equate with selfishness and helping others should not be to the detriment of our wellbeing.

We can often talk ourselves out of self-care by saying things like:

  • It is rude and selfish to say what I want

  • If I express myself, it will ruin my relationship with the other person

  • People close to me should know what I want without me having to spell it out

  • I won’t express my feelings, as I don’t want to burden others with my problems

  • If someone says no to my request, they don’t like me

  • Other people’s judgements of my behaviour are more valuable than my own

It can be useful to consider self-care through the lens of human rights and recognise that we all share the same fundamental rights e.g:

  • The right to express our feelings, thoughts and opinions

  • The right to say yes or no

  • The right to change our mind

  • The right to decline responsibility for other people’s problems

  • The right to be listened to and taken seriously

  • The right to make mistakes

  • The right to make reasonable requests of others

  • The right to set our own priorities

  • The right to be listened to and taken seriously

When we manage our self-care well, we feel less depleted and better able to give to others in a way that supports everyone’s needs. Practising healthy self–care sets up a win win situation, in which we are happier, less exhausted and our relationships improve.

If you would like support, make an appointment today for a better tomorrow. Contact Rachel Tyson for an appointment at or 0411 113 617. Medicare rebates can apply.

Adapted from: “Navigating the Codependency Maze” eBook

Sharon Martin, LCSW (2019)

“The Mental Health Handbook”

Trevor Powell (2009)

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