On Being (WISE) Selfish


Often times I hear the words ‘self care’ and ‘selfish’ used in the same sentence. There is an overarching sense of worry that taking care of ourselves is a selfish act, one that will be frowned upon.

We talk a lot (a lot!) about self love and the action of self care at Rock Your Bliss, it is one of our modules in 7 Weeks to Bliss and a conversation Mary Beth and I have often when speaking about our own well being.

And it feels important.

Taking that ‘me time’, creating space for self love in the form of a bathtub, a book or a massage and realizing what you really want versus placing all of your focus on the wants/desires/needs of say your boss, co-worker, child, partner. Well, it can get confusing. And yet, amidst the confusion, I find that I can be living FOR someone else instead of true to myself, my values, my desires. And yes, it is still something I practice often (and honestly, fail at often, too).

How do I care for others and care for myself?

When contemplating priority, does one come before the other?

I am reading a really delightful book called ‘The Book of Joy’ by the spiritual leaders that are The Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu (with Douglas Abrams). They speak about the different understanding and practices of joy in their own lives. The Lama speaks to a concept that really made me stop, think, re-read and ponder again and again, he said,

...a self-centered attitude is the source of the problem. We have to take care of ourselves without selfishly taking care of ourselves. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot survive. We need to do that. We should have wise selfishness rather than foolish selfishness. Foolish selfishness mean you just think of yourself, don’t care about others, bully others, exploit others. In fact, taking care of others, helping others, ultimately is the way to discover your own joy and to have a happy life. So that is what I call wise selfishness” (p. 48)


I love the idea of wise selfishness, the understanding that taking care of ourselves is essential to actually being able to take care of others. And that joy truly exists in compassion and service of others (once we can truly care for ourselves with this notion in mind). And the reality that is foolish selfishness, when you are ONLY looking out for number one (hello ego) and the downward spiral this can create. It is lonely there. 

Can you see how self love and care are essential to being well?

Can you see how self care is a wise choice?

Let's get wise selfish about our self care, our self love and how we show compassion to the world. 

- Jacki Carr