I am finding that people are slightly confused between the terms guilty and selfish. They will say “I feel so bad [guilty] for even being here and talking about my own needs,” when they have constant anxiety humming in the background. And they will compare their needs to something such as a friend suffering from cancer as if their feelings do not matter, even though the situations are different, and they obviously had no part in causing the others heartache.
Perhaps the anxiety humming in the background is a result of their own unmet needs. I wonder if they feel they they don’t have the right to feel their own feelings, and where that story originated. How did they get the message that even having their feelings is not important or okay?
And maybe there are two kinds of selfish.
Maybe there’s selfish in the true sense of the word where you say you just don’t care about the other person’s wants, needs or concerns, and you always put your own first. But more often than not, clients tend to put everyone’s needs above their own, without recognizing that they do need to replenish their reserves, so that they can be there for those they care about in a way that allows them to be fully present. They sort of lump all of “selfishness” together under one heading without making any distinctions between self care and self absorption. For example, taking care of small children on a daily basis can be very emotionally and physically draining, yet may not tax you much intellectually, thus the need to get some adult time, or to do something that engages your mind in other ways.
It is important to know both when and what recharges your batteries, and then to carve out time to do so. And that feeling the need to do so is not selfish. It is necessary. When you get a chance, just sit down and make a list of the activities that make you feel connected and energized, and make certain you make time for them on a regular basis.