When Self-Care Feels Selfish

by | Jun 5, 2020 | Inner Work | 2 comments

We are several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, where lives have been lost, countless businesses have closed, jobs have permanently ended, and stressful and tragic situations abound all over the world.

On top of that in America, massive protests are taking place around the subject of racial injustice, sparked by the killing of George Floyd. Horrific stories, long-standing wounds and tensions are being brought to the forefront of discussion and media.

In the light of such large-scale events and tragic topics, it is easy to judge your own current points of struggle as being too small, by comparison, to be worthy of attention.

Many are feeling compelled to get involved in different ways of supporting others right now, and to take time and energy on your own inner well-being can feel downright selfish.

You Still Have Legitimate Challenges

Of course, you do still have legitimate challenges in your life. You probably have fears and stress triggers, and they may be seriously compounded by current events.

“There are so many people going through worse than me right now.” While it is a selfless thought, and true, you will notice it does not really get down into your body, emotions and nervous system.

It certainly can open up some useful perspectives, and may help pull you out of a victim mindset. Unfortunately though, all of your own tension and stress does not release itself simply because there are others with more of it.

If you are lifting 20 pound weights, your arms are burning and your heart is racing, the fact that someone else is lifting 150 doesn’t really change what is happening for you, or what you may need to do to recover and support yourself.

Simple Yet Powerful Fundamentals

Taking some time to focus inward, to give attention to your own uncomfortable feelings…
A few slow, deep breaths into your body and the tension being held there…
10 minutes of a guided meditation, tapping round or something else that supports you.

These gestures can be more important now than ever.

I know they can be harder to start right now, to even think about doing. It may feel like you are abandoning something, and the mind is very good at convincing us that worrying about situations is a form of being responsible or helpful.

It’s important to put some things into perspective for ourselves, at least as I see them. Taking some steps to care for yourself and inner world in such a way is:

– NOT making it all about yourself
– NOT disrespecting what anyone else is going through, or making any point at all
– IS going to help you be better able to support others, if you wish
– IS going to help you be, do and act in a better way towards the people you care about
– IS very likely to help you avoid saying or doing something out of sheer overwhelm, which could end up having long term consequences.

– CAN help with that feeling of overwhelm, of wanting to do something but having no idea how or what to do.

There is a huge emotional component to that feeling, it is not only about intellectually not knowing the perfect answer. I wish there was one. I do know that working with the emotional elements around this by being present with that discomfort can help bring forward some useful ideas.

Again, this self-care and introspection does not have to involve a huge amount of time.

It does not have to a self-centered orientation at all.

It does not require any pretentious spiritual overhead, that your meditative action is operating from some superior perspective or level of consciousness.

It can start as simply as acknowledging that your feelings and experiences right now are valid, and worthy of some attention and support from you. Or it may come from talking with a friend, or anything that can create a good space for this.

Since we all play a part in other people’s lives, taking a moment or more for yourself is beneficial to those around you in a direct, felt way.

Allow yourself permission to take a moment.

If parts of you still resist doing so, listen to them, see what the argument is, and if what it feels it is protecting you from is a genuine risk. In even examining that, you will have already taken a beneficial moment for yourself that may be more powerful than you would expect.

Feel free to join in any of the regular free support calls (signup at the bottom of the page to be notified via email,) or interact with other supportive folks in the Facebook Group, which is open to sharing of all types of techniques and teachers that anyone finds valuable.

Take care of yourself, people need you out there!

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Alessia Minuto

Hi Evan, Thank you for this. I absolutely resonate with this. Thanks to my Buddhist practice I can really say that I deeply transformed this “guilty” feeling when I put my own interests/wellbeing before family/job/partner, etc. Anyway from time to time I still have to stop the urge to please people I love, to put their happiness before my own or to do what a “good girl” would do. In my Buddhist group I have the luck to meet and encourage many women, and I really can see how much in our culture women, especially mothers, are driven to be… Read more »

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