There’s a lot of talk, particularly on social media, about self-care and taking care of yourself, putting yourself first. It’s great and amazing, especially when we live in a world that can be hella stress-inducing and judgmental.
But the second someone starts putting themselves first, they’re labeled as “self-absorbed.”
Isn’t that ironic? People will think it’s great to take care of yourself…until it means that you’re putting yourself before their needs and what they want from you. Basically, self-care is all great and good to another person until it gets in the way of what they want from you.
There’s a major difference between “self-absorbed” and “self-focus:” the intention.
That is about as simple as I can put it. One’s intentions behind putting their needs and wants before those of others make up the line between “self-absorbed” and “self-focus.”
Self-absorbed means you only care about yourself and what you want, even if it’s at the expense of others and/or regardless of whether you actually need it.
Self-focus means you’re taking time to focus on yourself and your needs, rather than constantly caring more about everyone else and what they need. It’s putting time into yourself because YOU need it, and because it’s best for you.
We often forget that part of self-care is emphasizing the importance of your own needs and wants in scenarios where others would otherwise ignore them. It’s saying “no” when others want us to say “yes,” because saying “yes” all the time is exhausting, both emotionally, physically, and mentally. It’s making others understand why what we want is just as important as what they want out of a situation.
You are allowed to put yourself first.
Here’s a common scenario: If someone is suggesting plans to go out when you really just want to stay in, say no and “sorry not sorry” that the lack of your presence will “ruin the mood!” Especially for college kids, we’re insanely busy. A quiet night in can sometimes sound sooo much better than a night out, even if it’s with your friends. Take a second to think about whether you’re actually up to go out, mentally and physically, rather than immediately replying “yes” just because it’s your friend and they expect you to automatically join in the plans.
Self-focus is especially important when it comes to relationships.
NEVER. EVER. Let a friend or romantic partner make you feel unsatisfied in the relationship. Communication is so important, and you need to tell the other person if a certain repetitive behavior or action is making it hard for you to stay in the relationship.
I can personally attest to this one. I had a former best friend who had various behaviors that made it hard to stay friends with her towards the end of the relationship. I wish I had taken the time back then to speak with her about it rather than letting tension build up within our relationship. I don’t think it would have changed why we stopped being friends, but it would have made several months a lot easier.
Putting yourself first is always what’s best for you.
You know, as long as you’re not acting oblivious to the rest of the world (or reality) and not giving a damn about the impact of your actions on others. In which case, yes, you are self-absorbed and desperately in need of a reality check.