Two Types of Selfish

I started to get more involved with my self-care about five years ago in graduate school. As someone in a helping profession, I let my compassion get the better part of me. I put others before myself. Whenever people told me that I needed to “slow down,” I argued the point that there were others that needed my help. If I ever did anything for myself, it was met with feelings of guilt and shame.

It all sort of clicked when I overheard a colleague of mine running a group a little over a year ago. I just happened to be walking down the hallway. I have no idea what the topic of conversation was. I only heard a small bit.

“There are two types of selfish. There’s greedy selfish and ‘I need to take care of myself’ selfish.”

It was a simple message, but one that hit me hard. I thought of it like a trajectory.

There are individuals out there who are greedy in the traditional sense. Those people who could care less for another’s well-being, especially to have their own needs met. They put themselves ahead of others at another’s expense. Therefore, in this direction, the individual comes first for their own benefit.

On the contrary, for us empaths, there will be times where we need to stop and be a little selfish. Many have heard the saying “You can’t help others until you help yourself.” I thought it was a bunch of bologna for the longest time. It is true though. I would much rather give others 100% of me versus only 60% of me. I cannot be there for others if I cannot even have my own basic needs met. In this sense, the individual puts themselves ahead sometimes in order to advance others as a whole.

It might not make total sense now, but I thought this might offer another perspective on self-care for those who feel guilty engaging in it. It is okay to care for yourself. It does not only benefit you, but also everyone else around you.

– The Caring Counselor

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