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February 23, 2021
In the modern world, the prevailing notion when it comes to relationships with others is that we should always be switched “on”. Being a good friend means always being available to do anything and everything for the people you value, at least if media portrayals and other idealized images of friendship are to be believed. The cold, hard, truth, though, is that this isn’t always possible; and further, might not always be good for us. People often speak about the idea of “boundaries”, and how building and keeping healthy ones is crucial for our mental health. Just because you FEEL guilty for making a decision doesn’t mean you ARE guilty. Sometimes prioritizing yourself over others (even when you care deeply for them) is the healthiest thing you can do!
At times, it can be difficult not to drop everything in order to come to the aid of our intimates. Of course, this is understandable. Being those whom we care for, we’d like to do everything in our power to make sure they are always happy and getting their needs met. But all too often, we can sacrifice some of our own needs for others. If left unchecked this can affect our mental health. And if we let our desire to meet others’ needs cause us to neglect our own responsibilities, it can affect the lives we build for ourselves as well. The absolute best thing you can do for others is always what’s best for yourself, including taking all the alone time you need, and prioritizing your own needs when you must. For this reason, it is important to have that healthy sense of boundaries mentioned earlier, and it is also why balancing your own needs with the needs of others is not only a healthy practice but necessary to maintain your mental health.
The short answer is no, you’re probably not being selfish. Selfishness is being inconsiderate towards others, concerning yourself with only your own wants, and sacrificing the needs of others. Taking time for self-care or other necessary tasks of life isn’t selfish. In most cases you’ve likely considered the people in your life before making a decision that affects them, it’s just that sometimes difficult decisions must be made. There will come times in each of our lives where we will disappoint others. This does not always mean that we did something wrong, however, and we must remember that these feelings are normal in order to not turn them back inward toward ourselves.
It is easy to feel selfish when we prioritize ourselves over others. But it is important to remember that we all must do this sometimes, especially when it comes to things that matter, like our mental health, our work, or our passions. A good friend will always understand that when you say that you can’t, it’s not that you don’t want to. Despite what the world may tell us, sometimes saying “no” can be good for us, even if it makes us feel guilty in the short-term.
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