I think that most of us can agree on the importance of growth and working on ourselves in general.

Many of us were taught from a young age about success and the role that both hard work and personal sacrifice play in achieving it. We were encouraged to work late, stay up to finish a report, and all around go above and beyond to achieve our goals. And while these things are often contributing factors towards our long-term success, what we need to remember is that working on ourselves and taking care of ourselves can look like a multitude of things.

Some of these things are more widely accepted than others.

For example, while staying up late to finish a report is often praised, sleeping in when you’re overtired can be looked down upon. Or while checking your emails outside of work is often expected and encouraged, taking a day for yourself may be questioned.

There can sometimes be this pressure to feel 100% at all times, which just isn’t realistic for anyone.

The reality is that we are all very different people with our own needs. And as we go about our lives, these needs change. There will be times in your life where working on yourself could look like one thing, and times in your life where it looks completely different. 

Depending on who you are, where you are in life, and what your current needs and desires are, working on yourself right now could include:

  • Spending a day in bed to rest and recharge
  • Waking up early to get stuff done
  • Stepping away from diet culture
  • Healing your relationship with food
  • Embarking on a new wellness journey
  • Prioritizing your mental health
  • Prioritizing your financial health 
  • Saying no to things you typically say yes to
  • Saying yes to things you typically say no to
  • Going for a run in the rain
  • Skipping a workout when you’re tried
  • Sleeping in
  • Staying up late to finish something
  • Going to the doctors/dentist/OBGYN
  • Splurging occasionally
  • Going back to work after having a child
  • Staying home with your child
  • Starting a new hobby or project
  • Stepping back from a hobby that’s consuming too much time/money/energy
  • Leaving college/university
  • Going back to school
  • Travelling
  • Staying home

The point is that we are all on our own journey with our own end-in-sight. What you need may be the complete opposite of someone else, and that’s totally okay.

And while we may be quick to remind our friends and family members to slow down and take care of themselves, it’s not always easy to do ourselves. 

From a young age, a lot of people are taught that empathy means exclusively putting the needs of someone else above yourself. The idea was that unless you were experiencing some amount of sacrifice, taking care of yourself was selfish. Self-care was selfish, prioritizing your needs was selfish, wanting more was selfish, and recharging your batteries was selfish. 

And when we are hyper-critical of ourselves for something, we tend to be hyper-critical of others for the same thing, which continues on the cycle.

Also read: Why The Story We Tell Ourselves Influences Our Success

The reality is that we’re human: sometimes what we need aligns with what society tells us to, but that just isn’t always the case. We need to be kind to ourselves through both.

So today, I’m going to share 5 reasons why working on yourself/taking care of your needs isn’t selfish at all.

5 Reasons Why Taking Care Of Yourself Isn’t Selfish

1. You are a valid human (with valid human feelings)

You, whoever you are and wherever you are, are a valid human being, with valid human emotions. So often we believe that in order to be a good partner, parent, friend, employee, or human in general, then we need to put everyone else above ourselves. And while it is to be said that part of being a kind and compassionate human means caring about other people’s feelings, you can’t do it at your own expense. You are as valid and deserving as the folks you love most.

2. You don’t need to justify or earn your worth

You absolutely do not need to justify or earn your worth. You don’t need a reason to be tired, to eat snacks, to relax, to want to change things up, or to do anything else of the sort. Sometimes people view these things as a competition, and respond by saying, “how can you be tired? You slept more than me. I __ (worked earlier than you, worked harder than you and I am a student as well, XYZ.” We are all different people with different needs and limits. Whether you find yourself wanting to elevate your life, or wanting to scale back in other areas, please remember you do not need to justify or earn your worth at all – you are worthy because you are you.

3. It’s not up to anyone else to take care of your needs

Unless you have a caregiver, you are likely the only person responsible for taking care of your needs. This means that it’s up to you to make sure are sleeping, eating, happy, and thriving. When you become familiar with you’re needs, you’re able to make sure they are taken care of better.

4. You are ultimately living your life, no one else’s

We choose the people we wish to spend our lives with, but it’s our own life we’re living. We are the only person who will be by our side every minute of every day for the entirety of our lives. This means we need to make sure we are doing the thing we need to do for ourselves 

5. It is easier to show up for others when you feel taken care of/your own needs are met

Taking care of yourself can feel incredibly selfish, but it’s important to remember that it’s much easier to show up for the people you love in your life when you are taken care of/your own needs have been met. The best example I can use is to think about how you feel when someone is driving slow in front of you when you’ve overslept and you’re running late to work, versus when you’re happy and out for a leisurely drive. We are typically able to respond in a kinder and more understanding manner when our needs are taken care of. 

self-care isn't selfish