• Staff Writer

What's the Difference Between Selfish and Self-Care?

Updated: Feb 2



Addiction is viewed as “selfish” by society. Many people in recovery from substance abuse may feel the same. Although substance use disorder is a disease, there is a responsibility to it. That responsibility is the difference between being selfish and practicing self-care.


Taking accountability for your actions and moving forward is self-care. Blaming others for your actions is selfish. Even putting the blame on yourself and not moving forward through recovery can be a form of selfishness.


What Is Self-Care?


Self-care is about focusing on your well-being through mental, emotional, and physical means. It doesn't mean that focusing on your own happiness is your only priority. It means you can't worry about others effectively unless you take care of yourself. Self-care is about being your best self, not about being better than anyone else.


Consider this example: Your friend wants some water, but if your glass is empty, how can you offer any to them? You need to fill your glass before pouring for others.


What Does Self-Care Look Like?


Self-care is a broad term. For you, it could mean regular exercise, time for a hobby you love, or just sitting in silence for a few minutes a day. For others, self-care might be their weekly massage, therapy, or doing a face mask while taking a bath.


These things are not selfish. This is how you show yourself love and appreciation. You deserve some care from yourself after hard work. It doesn't matter what self-care looks like as long as it benefits you in some way and does not hurt anyone else.


Without self-care, people become drained, weak, and unable to reach their full potential. One study even showed that adults over 65 who practiced self-care showed signs of improved health. If you practice self-care well before that age threshold, the effects could be even more significant.


How Is Self-Care Different Than Being Selfish?


Self-care helps you focus on yourself to improve your productivity and mood. When you show yourself self-love, you are resurging your energy. You enhance your sense of self and feel secure without external assurance. Giving yourself time off to relax proves you are worthy of a break. You are offering that self-care and confidence to yourself. There is no better assurance than from within.


Being selfish would be draining someone else's energy to improve your own. Self-care isn't about putting others down or even caring more about yourself than others. It is about showing yourself what you deserve so you can be the best version of yourself.


How Does Self-Care Aid in Recovery?


When someone struggles with addiction and is in recovery, they have likely had to take accountability for their past actions. They have had to take responsibility for what occurred while they were abusing substances and had to face their selfishness.


Understanding the selfishness that goes along with addiction can lead to feelings of guilt and shame. This can prevent those in recovery from practicing self-care. Confusing self-care and selfishness can prevent someone in need of self-care from practicing it.


Instead, taking responsibility and practicing self-care can improve recovery. An article from Neuroethics states, "The key is to better distinguish our concept of responsibility from our concept of blame, so that we can acknowledge agency and with it responsibility, without thereby immediately inviting let alone legitimating stigma and blame."


When it comes to addiction, taking the blame for everything reduces the odds of self-care, like focusing on recovery. When people blame themselves for everything they did when using, they fight back by not focusing on themselves. A lack of self-care can convince people that they aren't worth that energy. If someone fears that practicing self-care makes them selfish, they may put their own needs on the back burner and focus on others, meaning they drain their energy and eventually have nothing to offer.


The Benefits of Self-Care


Self-care improves your health and your mood. It boosts your confidence, energy and improves your outlook. Those benefits are unmatched when it comes to recovery. When someone believes they aren't worthy of self-care, their confidence dwindles, and they are more likely to relapse. Practicing self-care helps you and those around you.


Giving yourself something enjoyable or relaxing like time off, a nap, or even a nice lunch reminds you that you are worthy of this. It improves your mood, your self-esteem and gives you the energy to be less selfish.


Selfishness is a big fear amongst those in recovery. They may feel the need to counteract anything selfish they did in the past by overdoing things for others now. In time, that behavior only drains them and leads to risky behaviors. When anyone, especially those in recovery, practices self-care, they boost their belief in themselves, leading to a more stable recovery.


Practicing self-care is not selfish. Practicing self-care gives you the energy you need to be less selfish. Being selfish would be using drugs or alcohol without worrying about the impact or consequences for others. Practicing self-care is focusing on your sobriety through therapy, exercise, health, and more. All of these things are good for you and therefore good for others. When you believe you are worthy of self-care and act on that, you improve how you see yourself. You believe you are more capable and therefore become more capable. Self-care is a vital part of recovery and life. To be the healthiest version of yourself, you need to take care of yourself first. Working through your addiction and navigating your recovery is one of the best ways to practice self-care. Reach out to our experts at California Care Detox and Treatment for more information about recovery and how we can help you. Call us at (949) 281-0632.

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