Why Self-Care is Not Self Indulgence

The decisions to self-indulge provide instant gratification, although the decisions to invest in self-care may not.

Actually, I believe that true, life-changing self-care may be even challenging at first, but these are the actions that will serve you best in the long run.

Understanding self-care

I believe that self-care is more than bubble baths, manicures, and brownies. In fact, I wouldn’t even really consider those things to be self-care. At least, I think that’s not the type of care that’s going to completely change your life for the better.

To me, life-changing self-care is the acts that cause you to crack open. It challenges your usual behavioral patterns and causes you to question your actions.

When you practice this type of self-care you’ll begin to nurture yourself through the powerful act of self-love.

You’ll create new patterns of thinking. You’ll discover just how powerful you really are.

As self-care is quite the buzz-word today – one that conjures up images of wine bottles and half-eaten cakes – it’s important to make the distinction between self-care and self-indulgence.

Self Love

Self indulgent behavior

It’s not always easy to distinguish between behavior that is truly centered around caring for yourself and the behavior that is self-indulgent.

1. Finishing a bottle of wine solo nightly

I get it. I’ve been there too. Downing an entire bottle of wine in one sitting because you’ve had a long week or you’ve earned it. Don’t hate me, but I believe that behavior to be more along the lines of self-indulgence than self-care.

True self-care would examine the reason why you had such a long week.

What caused you to be so stressed? Why your week go the way it did? What changes can you enact to make next week a better one?

2. Eating sweets every single day after lunch / dinner

Ah, yes. Reaching for brownies/cookies/cakes can feel like an act of self-care. As you can probably guess, I’m going to file this one under self-indulgence.

In reality, self-care would look more like examining why you feel so compelled to reach for the treats. Personally, I found that my sugar addiction stemmed from a feeling of being overly stressed. I was always trying to fill a hole that couldn’t be filled with sugar and I didn’t have the self-care practices to support me in discovering the truth.

Is it something with your job? Your current relationships? Where are you possibly trying to fill a void?

3. Spending all day on the couch…every weekend

Don’t get me wrong, taking a break is good for the soul. I’m a huge fan of disconnecting and making space in my life so I don’t experience symptoms of burn out.

If you find yourself wanting to do nothing but sit on the couch, I don’t believe that’s self-care. To me, I believe that self-care would be taking a break and recharging your batteries while you think about you’re feeling the way you do.

What is it in your life that’s making you so exhausted? Why do you feel the overwhelming desire to hole up and disconnect? Where are you too connected?

Self Indulgence

Remember, self-care is not selfish

In addition to what I mentioned above around self-care, it’s important to recognize that true self-care is not selfish

We cannot adequately care for others if we are not first fully caring for ourselves.

I repeat: we cannot adequately care for others if we are not first fully caring for ourselves.

There is nothing selfish about making sure our needs are communicated. There is nothing selfish about building boundaries to protect and support our happiness. There is nothing selfish about taking a much-needed break.

Honestly, I believe it’s a lot more selfish to over-commit and give the ones you love the worn-out and tired version of yourself. That might be a harsh truth to hear, but I’ve lived that life before and it’s not fun for anyone involved.

To me, continued acts of self-indulgence are much more selfish.


How to stop being self-indulgent

I don’t want this post to scare you away from living life and enjoying all of the fun things life has to offer. Rather, I’d like to help you create a different mindset around the way you view self-care in your life.

In order to make this shift from self-indulgence to self-care, it’s important to get in touch with what you truly want self-care to look like for you. You can start this process by first identifying the areas of your life – work, relationships, spirituality, health – that need the most support.

From there, begin to sculpt new self-care practices that would help you in those areas.

Self-care for the long run

At the end of the day, I believe that self-indulgence is doing what feels good and self-care is doing what’s truly good for you.

Creating sustainable self-care for the long run requires you to get uncomfortable and step outside of your comfort zone. Maybe this means setting boundaries or creating an entirely new way of thinking. Whatever it is for you, know that building healthy habits will surely pay off.

two women hugging

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Do you think self-care is selfish?

Is it hard for you to pay attention to your needs without guilt?

fully care for yourself first


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