Every once in a while I am accused of being selfish with my time. And I struggle within myself, trying to decide if it’s true. Usually the accuser is someone who is unhappy with a boundary I have set. For example I usually let my telephone message services pick up calls rather than keep my cell phone turned on. I struggle because I want to act with maturity and love.
But there is a distinct difference between being selfish and choosing to exercise good self-care. The purpose of self-care is to sustain and nourish myself so that I am able to go the distance in my availability to others. Selfishness would restrict my accessibility only to those that serve my purposes and my desires.
The opposite of selfish is selfless. It might be defined as overly available for others.
It sounds very noble and charitable. But is it really?
Sometimes my selflessness is just a lack of an ability to say no. Sometimes it is an attempt to gain affirmation from others to feel significant. And if I don’t get it I end up feeling resentful (the martyr).
But there are times when I must legitimately operate in a selfless manner – for example during occasions of crisis. During these times I am needed in a full capacity. But then what must follow is a period of recuperation with adequate self-care.
What does self-care look like?
Adequate rest (sleep and Sabbath). Exercise. Recreation. Solitude. Two-way friendships. Vacations. Regular medical and dental check-ups.
Are these a normal part of your life? If they are not, then why not? Do you feel guilty when you pay attention to your own needs? Why?
If you are like me, you probably want a balanced life – sold out to the right things and cautious about the rest. Achieving that balance is a great goal, but a difficult task. So how are you doing?