Real Talk

7 Reasons Why Self-Care Can Make Us Feel Guilty

It’s easy to say “you need to take care of yourself” but there are reasons why self-care makes us feel guilty.

Self-care is something easier said than done. From something as small as buying a cookie for ourselves to something as big as attending a fashion event, there will always be that little voice in our heads that makes us feel guilty for giving ourselves a little self-care. It will even come to a point that another well-meaning person’s advice for self-care sounds patronizing rather than kind. But we need to take a step back sometimes to find out why we feel the way we do. Here are some reasons why self-care can make us feel guilty.

1. It makes us feel that we’re against “the greater good.”

Everything we’ve done, we use the reason that we’re doing it for the greater good. Some actions are easier to rationalize but not self-care. In self-care, it’s meant only for one person and that’s us. That’s why it’s easier for us to say taking care of ourselves is selfish. Doing so allows us to dodge the guilt and anxiety of being looked down on for being selfish.

2. We’re raised to be a person for others.

Ever since childhood, we were all taught to be a person for others. We’re taught to think about other people’s feelings and be compassionate. That, in a confrontation wherein we feel hurt by another person, we soak up the pain instead because we feel that we’re going to hurt others if we try to protect ourselves. Especially right after a conflict, the guilty feeling is at its most intense when we find avenues of self-care to calm ourselves and find a better solution.

3. We ourselves are guilty of shaming others for self-care.

Our guilty feelings towards self-care can sometimes come from our shaming of others. As a parent, it’s easy to tell ourselves that everything we do is for the sake of our kids. And, we’re quick to assume that any parent who does otherwise is considered an “awful” parent. In our own guilty feelings towards self-care, we sometimes bring down others so people will understand what we’re feeling.

4. Our first few attempts at self-care ended horribly.

Not all attempts at self-care can reap good results. Some of us see how the attempt wasn’t “worth it” especially when it costs a lot of money or the instantaneous blowback was just so explosive. The aftermath then leads us to think that all other forms of self-care will end horribly, leading to us feeling guilty about it. We slowly develop an aversion towards it because we’re expecting another large blowback.

5. Pride

Pride in being praised as a good parent can make us feel guilty about engaging in self-care. Parenting has been painted over the years as one of the most “selfless” callings that, anything considered not “selfless” makes us feel called out. We sometimes get defensive, irritable, and volatile when someone comments about it. But we have to be fast enough to catch ourselves and ask, “Are they really calling us out or is this my guilt acting up again?”

6. Some are just very good at guilt-tripping.

Some may not realize it or some do but the act of making people feel guilty for engaging in something that isn’t by nature harmful is called “guilt-tripping.” A lot of us may subconsciously do this whether it’s with side comments or even certain body language that can make people uncomfortable. Sometimes, it’s hard for us to be happy for those who do self-care when we have a hard time doing it.

7. We feel guilty that we can “afford” self-care.

A lot of people associate being able to do self-care with having the money and time to do so. That the moment we do, we start feeling guilty when we see other people who can’t. However, we’re not sure if they’re doing a form of self-care, too. Self-care’s been stigmatized so badly that nobody really comes out with it in order to avoid feeling guilty.

The path of self-care needs no guilt and shame

The feelings can fester into something more poisonous and it’ll take a great effort to remove those guilty feelings when we’re trying out something for self-care. But we also have to think that self-care is doing something else for someone. We’ll feel more guilty if we unleash our rage and annoyance on some people (let alone our kids!) who don’t deserve it simply because we had a bad day.

Still feeling the guilt? Here are more stories about moms who are fighting those guilty feelings toward self-care!

Jet Acuzar: In Being, There Is Also Doing
How To Get Rid of Mom (or Dad) Guilt According To Dr. Lia Bernardo and Ria Trillo
Solenn Heusaff during Fashion Week in Milan: “Mum guilt is real”

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