The Quest for Healthy Self-Interest

We are bombarded every day on social media with a flood of memes and mixed messages. What IS a healthy self interest ?  How much can we truly be putting our own needs first and not be a narcissist or at least self-absorbed?  How much self-care does it take to be really loving yourself? What does that even look like ?  In the age of social media where we are hyper aware of our self image and how we come across to others as products or entertainment - branding our lives to be noticed or fit in.  Have we lost it completely? Is our self awareness/ self consciousness preventing us from having a good relationship to others and more importantly to ourselves in a deep and meaningful way? 


Of course it isn't!  But what is true self care? Self care ads always show us bubble baths, bottles of wine and chocolate bars, massages and fluffy robes. But that isn't enough to soothe an aching soul.  To alleviate our deep angst a bath isn't' going to cut it. We will have to evaluate our lives and start making adjustments that are true to our values.
Self care usually includes having healthy boundaries, which means saying no to people or not associating with certain people or groups, or being authentic and true to your values, which means - you don't always fit in nicely everywhere.  There is still pressure to fit in no matter what we want to say about individuality and authenticity. Our survival includes some degree of fitting in usually.  So managing self care AND fitting in enough are a dance that isn't always obvious. 


Here is the crux right? Until you have a strong sense of yourself you may think that putting yourself and your needs first is narcissism. Until you separate yourself from narcissistic people, you will be blaming yourself for why the relationship isn't working and think it's your flaws ( and they'll agree)
Until you can see yourself as imperfect and wonderful at the same time, you may worry that saying good things about yourself isn't narcissistic. 


No one will say this one out loud much - especially in healing and new age circles - but it is STILL a shadow belief we can struggle with. It leads us to hide and mask to fit in, belong, not be drawn into conflict, avoid the energy it will take to stand your ground....many valid reasons we can all fall into this pattern again and are vulnerable to self sabotage or becoming narcissistic supply.  A healthy self can be polite or pleasant in a way that isn't faking it.  A healthy self knows feelings are important and cares about it's own feelings and those of people closest to them. 


Forgiveness may not seem contradictory but it can be if you are in a toxic situation or have weakened boundaries form any situation - past or present. Many people who have low self worth stay in those situations that are destroying them by trying to forgive the perpetrators or abusers. They won't leave and focus on forgiveness - and it doesn't work to make life better. It's too soon for forgiveness in that situation.  It's a law of the Universe that we must leave and remove ourselves from abuse and toxic behaviour before the journey of forgiveness can begin. There is too much pain and anger to process and forgiving before you've releases and felt it is a spiritual bypass - a band-aid.  A healthy self doesn't tolerate abuse or disrespect A healthy self also forgives - but that is only once the steps to restore self-respect are in place (and often takes a lot longer if we're honest)


Many times our dilemma is not that we don't know what self care, boundaries or even what we want are - but it goes against generations or maybe centuries of our idea of being a  "nice person" or a "good person".  We all want to be seen in this light - understood and loved.  A healthy self isn't a pleaser. That healthy self is a good person, and has boundaries that allow a way to function and fit in when needed and also allow for intimacy with those who truly fit and align with them. 


In the end if I had to sum things up  I would say that if you have a healthy self, you have confidence, hope for your life, and connections - people who are close to you. You have your independence.  You take responsibility for your own life and that includes for how you feel. If you take care of yourself in the mundane ways - baths, healthy eating, sleeping, rituals of self care - and someone tries to interfere with those, then you may be dealing with a narcissist and need to set boundaries, and if they arent' respected to leave.  Healthy relationships can handle healthy boundaries - or wont' even need them in the first place because there is respect and consideration, kindness and love. If there is fear, mistrust, with holding, and any variation of self destructive behaviour then it's not a healthy self you are operating with. A selfie doesn't make you a narcissist and having needs doesn't make you selfish. I am speaking to all the empathetic folks here because if you were truly a narcissist, you wouldn't be reading this article :)