On being selfish

This morning, as I read Beth’s blog post about Mindfulness, Uncertainty, and Courage – I was struck by this particular quote:

I’ve got to ignore my inner voices that tell me I’m selfish for thinking of myself so much.

It made me a little angry. Why is it that in our society when a women tries to take care of herself, it is deemed as a selfish act? For some reason, when men take care of themselves it is seen simply as self-care, and a good thing. And yet when women do it, we are being ‘selfish’… ugh …

The funny thing is that selfishness has been a bit of a theme in my writing these last couple of days. In my other blog, I wrote ask Is my research selfish? In short, my answer was yes. I think that all research is in some ways selfish. It is a privilege to be able to do research and to study things that are of great interest to you. And yet in that context, being selfish is OK. Actually, in the context of PhD studies it is encouraged and I would argue necessary. If you do not have a selfish passion for the topic of your study, you will have a difficult time completing it successfully.

This whole discussion on selfishness reminds me of advice that I often given those newly diagnosed, especially those who have children at home. I give them permission to be selfish. It is something that they often need to hear, in order to allow themselves the ability to care for themselves during treatment. But why does self-care have to come with such a stigmatized label that is called selfishness?


  • Becky


  • Agree that women are seen to embody selflessness. Or maybe it’s a case of women being REQUIRED to carry a load that men, (through conscious practice???) generally escape from. Watched the movie Girl Rising last night and it seems that making women responsible for family and men in charge of running the rest that we aren’t going to get anywhere–other than where we are now in most of the world.

    I get criticized for “talking about myself” when talking about the world. Like it all revolves around me. But would people rather topics that are neutral or impersonal? I observe the world from my own eyes and everything is personal.

    This is a good question and brings up the validity of being subjective. Studying Complex Project Management and critical thinking right now to understand how the cancer institute failed to treat me like a human and what could change. The most obvious misstep by them is believing themselves to be purely objective. That’s a totally delusional stance to take. Plus it is disrespectful to speak of my experience as a branch of their experience.

  • Without self-care, we are of no use to anyone…including ourselves.

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