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Self-Care Isn’t Being Selfish

By Jennifer A. Mason, LCSW LMFT LISW-S


One of the most despised words I think we can hear from anyone is that we are being selfish. From the time we are old enough to comprehend we have been taught that to be selfish is to be bad, to be selfish is to be looked upon as not being a very nice person. So it is no wonder that a whole segment of society believes it is their duty to wholeheartedly give to others, to meet the expectations of others, to set aside their own needs and values so someone else can achieve.


We praise the person who will “give you the shirt off their back” but what we don’t see is that person is then left with nothing. Time and time again they give until they have nothing left to give. Many bariatric patients have difficulty identifying those activities that give them pleasure; things that make them feel good and even simple recognition of their own needs.


Self-care is about learning to say “no” and setting limits. It is about giving to yourself the same amount of time that you are giving to others. It is about not letting your fear of anger or rejection be the driving force behind what you say or do. It is about learning to value your own opinion and recognizing that you have a voice.


Self-affirmations are a good way to build a self-caring attitude. You may want to read them slowly or record them and listen to them every day for a few weeks. Or simply begin with one affirmation a day and select a new one each day to meditate on: 

  • I am learning to take better care of myself.
  • I recognize that my own needs are important.
  • It’s good for me to take time for myself.
  • I’m willing to find a balance between my own needs and concern for others.
  • If I take good care of myself, I have more to offer others.
  • I don’t have to be perfect.