Selfish vs Self Care

(Originally written in 2019)

Just for shits and giggles, I went and looked up some definitions of “selfish” across the old interwebs. Partially because I knew I wanted to revisit self love and how the world confuses “taking care of ones self” for “being a greedy dick and screw everyone else”. There is a clear and obvious difference between the two concepts. One is about making sure your cup is filled so that you have more than enough to share with others. The other is filling your cup, then stealing everyone else’s cup, giving you all the cups.

This should be obvious which one is better. That, and if you’re regularly picking Option 2, you are probably never reading any of my shit, ever.

So, some of my findings when I looked up “selfish”:

Dictionary.com:

selfish

adjective

devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives.

Webster says:

selfish

adjective

self·​ish | \ ˈsel-fish \

Definition of selfish

1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others

2: arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others: a selfish act

3: being an actively replicating repetitive sequence of nucleic acid that serves no known function (selfish DNA) also : being genetic material solely concerned with its own replication (selfish genes)”

I can’t lie, I’m kind of fascinated with the idea of selfish DNA.

And you always have to inquire within the Urban Dictionary, because you never know what the hell you’ll find. Once again, it did not disappoint.

Here’s one…

“selfish

what everyone in the world is. absolutely no one living on this planet can call themselves “not selfish”. its human nature. telling someone to not be selfish is like telling someone to stop being human.

but many people mistake selfishness for greed.

you may be the most generous person on the planet, but if you even WANT the feel-good feeling of giving, you’re selfish.

Person 1: hey stop being selfish and give me some of your money!

Person 2: you’re telling me to not be human. by the way, i believe that i deserve to keep this money because i worked for it and you stood home on your ass watching reruns of Friends. i dont need to give you anything.

Person 1: ……. fuck you.

And another…

selfish

Having desires that conflict with the selfishness of others.

A: “I’m getting my appendectomy tomorrow. I need to save this money for copay.”
B: “How could you be so selfish? Spending money on “necessary operations” left and right, and meanwhile my wife and I can’t pay the television bill. I can’t believe you could be so — “
A: “Get the fuck out.”
B: “But I need — “
A: “OUT.” “

And what might be the most honest one from there…or period

selfish

-adjective
used to describe someone who does not think about me.

“I am not selfish.” “

I can see where the connotations come from.

But let me offer something, as I think the last UD definition really shines a light on in its brief, succinct way. Yeah, there are examples of people being assholes all consumed with what they want with no regard for anyone else. For the most part, it really does come down to someone’s perspective. It’s tremendously rare for someone to look at you and say: “Yeah, I’m being a dick, what of it?”

For the most part, we all see ourselves as the “good guy” in the long-running soap opera that we know as our existence. It’s how we are all wired, even when we hate parts of ourselves we tend to not see ourselves as greedy, corrupted monsters. Therefore, things have to be reorganized somewhat in our minds in order to make this work. This is how politicians can sleep at night.

What happens is that we indirectly twist our narratives so that we inadvertently define selfish in that last term. Even as we think we’re using the first.

That was a lot more philosophical than I intended when I started writing (I blame my lunch. It was pretty damn yummy though). So I found an unintended observation that selfishness is really a subjective idea, a concept of our own creation based upon our upbringing, experience, values, life lessons, and environments. The point I was trying to go for, and will try to walk back to, is that as subjective as it is, it does not roll in the same area code as self-care or self-love.

Back to the dictionary we go. I’m really happy this stuff is online nowadays. For the kids, back in the day (when we walked uphill both ways to school in hurricanes, tornados, volcanoes and alien attacks) we were forced to break out these really big, really heavy, really bulky books to find these words. Except for that one year…9th grade maybe…that I carried around a paperback Scrabble dictionary. It didn’t work as well as I thought it would.

Anyway….dictionary…self-care:

self-care

NOUN

mass noun

  • 1 The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.

‘autonomy in self-care and insulin administration’

  • 1.1 The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

‘expressing oneself is an essential form of self-care’

as modifier ‘self-care methods such as meditation’

See, just a little different. Now, how about a definition for self-love?

self-love

NOUN

mass noun

  • Regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.”

See? These are just a little different.

So for those who struggle with mixing these concepts up…stop it please.

It is okay to take care of one’s well-being first and foremost. It is not just okay, it is of the utmost importance. It will allow you to be physically and mentally healthier. It will help you be more present. It will help you be a better parent, friend, employee, creator, lover, butcher, baker, candlestick maker, whatever.

Again, for those of you sleeping through this in the back.

YOUR OWN CARE IS FIRST AND FOREMOST!

IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU A SELFISH ASSHOLE!

IT MAKES YOU A MUCH BETTER YOU!

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Rich Levesque

Rich Levesque

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Writer. Guide. Mentor. Visionary. Voice. Presence. Geeks out over MCU, Star Wars, baseball, and randomness. Question everything except your worth.