Self-centered – takes the focus or attention in most circumstances

Selfish – putting one’s own needs in front of others all of the time

Self-aware – keeping one’s own needs and the needs of others in consideration, as well as how the two might interact; finding a healthy balance between one’s own needs and how those needs impact those around us

Self-care – actively protecting or improving one’s own health

There is a fine line between these things.

Self-centered means the person views the world as to how himself/herself is impacted. A self-centered person sees life through the lens of “me” and finds that to be most important. Selfish is when a person acts in a way where he/she is put before the needs of others.

A self-centered person may be with a group of people discussing what they want to order for dinner, and the self-centered person continues to focus on solely what he/she wants to have and what his/her favorite foods are. A selfish person may be with a group of people eating dinner, and he/she eats the last piece of pizza without considering anyone else.

Those two are tricky to tell apart, but there is a difference. One can be self-centered, but that does not necessarily mean he/she always behaves selfishly. They generally go together, but not always.

Both selfish and self-centered are terms that are used as labels when someone is thinking or behaving in a certain way most of the time.

This matters very much. Too many people view considering their own needs at any time as being selfish or self-centered.

A mother going for a walk alone after spending 10 hours straight with her children does not make her a self-centered or selfish person.

A father working overtime to provide for his family and work his way up in his career to offer a certain future for them does not make him self-centered or selfish.

An elderly man who commits to walking every morning as priority over most other events does not qualify him as a self-centered or self-absorbed person.

Self-awareness is the key to being able to recognize whether we are being self-centered, or selfish. Being aware of what we need, as well as how it may impact others is key.

Self-awareness helps us find a balance, which is so important. We must be aware of what our needs are and what our boundaries look like. However, self-awareness INCLUDES consideration of how our behavior impacts others. Please, do not forget that.

Self-care is the action of taking care of our own needs. Self-care is not selfish. I will say it again. SELF-CARE IS NOT SELFISH!

Self-care is extremely important to our health. However, do not use self-care as an excuse to be selfish. THERE IS A LINE.

An elderly man who walks every morning and refuses to help a family member in a true emergency during that time has crossed the line. Or perhaps he refuses to attend his granddaughter’s special birthday party because it will interrupt the time of his walk one single time, leaving his family members disappointed. There could be an argument made for some selfish behavior there.

Self-awareness is always the key to being able to navigate through the differences between whether we are being self-absorbed, being selfish, or simply practicing self-care.

Published by madewellminded

I am a mental health therapist in training. I am on my way to finishing my master's degree in clinical mental health counseling. I am also a creative nonfiction writer and a poet with a bachelor's degree in English writing. I am an advocate for mental health. I am deeply passionate about making a difference in the stigma attached to mental health through knowledge, awareness, and creative writing. I want to share my own story, as well as the stories of others who have persevered through great adversity. I am also a wife to an amazing husband, a mother of two beautiful babies, and a Christian who wants to show love, kindness, and acceptance to everyone I meet.

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