What to Do When Self-care Feels Selfish

by Suzanne M. Harvey


Every mom struggles with ‘mom guilt’. Whether it is the expectations of social media, your family and friends or your own expectations, when we feel like we don’t measure up the guilt can overwhelm us. First let’s acknowledge that these feelings are normal, and every mom has them. It isn’t unusual to feel this guilt when you think about your own self-care. The thought of putting your needs ahead of your family can leave you feeling like the worst parent EVER! Please know that is NOT the truth. This internal sense of guilt keeps us in line and makes us follow the rules – even when those rules are unrealistic or altogether impossible. We may never completely get rid of it, but we can use some techniques to lessen the load of guilt we feel. Are you ready to see how self-care can help you deal with mom guilt? Try this when self-care feels selfish.

#1 – Acknowledge Your Feelings

Are you a stuffer? Don’t stuff your feelings. They are an indication to you and can be helpful. They can lead you to change if needed. Remember it is normal to feel guilty. We have been conditioned to feel this and most likely we learned this behavior from watching other women in our lives and families. Take a moment to recognize and acknowledge how you are feeling.

#2 – Recognize the Truth

Guess what? Our feelings aren’t always telling us the truth about the situation. They can help us but they can also spiral us out of control into a web of lies. Take a moment to evaluate the situation and your feelings. Look for the truth. It may feel like you can’t take a few moments for yourself. But more often than not, you could spare a few minutes for some self-care.

#3 – Create Replacement Thoughts


Do you find yourself having these same guilty feelings over and over again? Time to get a new thought. My favorite author, Jon Acuff, calls these repetitive thoughts our soundtracks. They can be good or bad (or somewhere in between). If you are constantly saying, “I can’t do this because _______ (fill in the blank)”, you may need a new thought. For instance, instead of saying “I don’t have enough time to do that” you could say, “I chose to not do that right now”. This will take practice but by replacing these negative, impossibility thoughts with truth and realistic expectations you will begin to see your way through.

#4 – Give Yourself Grace

Listen friend, you will never be perfect at all of this. None of us can be. And that is OK. Give yourself loads of grace, whether you feel like you can’t do anything or you feel like you’re crushing it today. PS – both of those are rarely true. Most days we live in the in between. Be patient with yourself and celebrate progress.

#5 – Practice Small Steps 


Only cars can go 0 to 60 in seconds. We take a bit more time. You can’t go with the all or nothing approach, you will burn out that way too. Simply choose 1 thing you can do today to start taking care of you. Keep it easy and build on it. Before you know it you can add something else. Baby steps still can get us to the top of the mountain. 

Know you are not alone in these feelings of guilt, in the desire to be more and do better. We are all human and we can’t do it all or be all things for all the people. So, take a few minutes to take a deep breath and find your baby step past guilt and into your self-care journey today. And try this when self-care feels selfish and mom guilt starts to take over. You’ve got this!


Ready to get some self-care into your routine? Get it on your calendar using these tips here.

**BONUS – Simplify your skincare routine for 5 minutes of self-care each day, with my “5 Products & 5 Minutes” routine. Watch the video here.

Never miss your selfcare inspiration, encouragement & tips. Subscribe to the Be You Beautifully newsletter and get it delivered directly to your inbox.

*This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission.

Leave a Comment


Suzanne Harvey

I am Suzanne Harvey, a woman of faith - boy mom – wife – entrepreneur – interior designer – skincare business owner – lover of music & bulldogs. Like you I wear lots of hats and juggle all the things. In all of that it is easy to lose sight of who we truly are, what truly matters to us and how to slow down to enjoy the beauty around us. Thanks for joining me on this adventure to find beauty in our everyday with encouragement, laughter, plus tips & ideas to help you find your own kind of beautiful.


The Latest in Beauty