Is Self-Care Self-Centeredness?

by Jeff Yellow Owl August 17, 2017


Knowing there is a difference between self-care and self-centeredness is helpful when we’ve made a decision to live a healthy lifestyle. The bible states:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

When Jesus talked about the greatest commandment of all, He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and said we are to love God with all our heart; but He also added the second greatest commandment: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31 NKJV).

Many addicts develop behaviors or coping mechanisms to medicate their mental, emotional, and physical pain. I know—as someone living in recovery from alcohol and sex addiction—that giving up those unhealthy behaviors is incredibly scary; especially when you trust no one.

At their core, addicts struggle to sincerely love and accept themselves. Their learned beliefs, the lies hell planted and became reinforced by past painful experiences, keep many from caring for themselves and others. Beliefs such as, “I’m not good enough,” “No one cares,” or “This is the hand I’ve been dealt, nothing will ever change,” contribute to their unhealthy survival skills. Although their survival skills may have kept them alive and safe during those unguarded years, without realizing, they found ourselves still using these same survival skills well into adulthood. As a result, living in survivor-mode ends up sabotaging any good that might be experienced or enjoyed.

Self-centeredness can be viewed as being selfish, arrogant, and proud, and rightfully so; but for many addicts, those painful experiences shaped their self-destructive habits. A common false belief that is carried in their soul is, “I have to look out for number one.” What we don’t realize is that when an addict was at their most vulnerable time in life, they discovered, “If I don’t do something to protect myself, no one else will.”  

When I was caught up in my addiction, I judged myself harshly: “I’m selfish,” “I’m arrogant,” “I’m a bad man.” I was full of self-condemnation. The enemy would mess with my head using that word condem-nation; “Yellow Owl, you’re part of the nation of the condemned, the condemned-nation. There is no hope for you.”

Jesus had other plans! I Thank God that His Word has the final say in our lives.

I believe self-care starts with the truth that our Heavenly Father genuinely loves and accepts us. The revelation of God’s love, acceptance, and grace becomes the motivation to care for ourselves and others. Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV) says:

Praise be to the God an Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Ephesians 1:3-6

The self-care model I created to help treat trauma and addictions is called Life Choices. There is nothing new under the sun; basically I took from two separate disciplines and created one self–care planning and implementation format. I wanted something that was simplistic, easy to remember, tailored to the individual, and without much cost.

Life Choices is a holistic approach. The plan addresses the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and sociocultural dimensions. The format includes a one-week or seven-day planning schedule.

The idea is to identify healthy activities and relationships that create “life” for you and do them within the next seven days.


Think about your past experiences when things were going well:

What were you doing that was helpful?

What behaviors did you practice to through a difficult time?

Who helped you through difficult times?

What about your future:

What new activity are you willing to try?

What kind of people do you need to associate with?

What type of support do you need?


Start with what you can commit to and implement with do-able doses. Adopt the idea that you are going to “practice” living the gift of life you’ve been given. I call it getting a “rhythm.” Renew your mind with God’s Grace, as He re-wires your soul and reshapes your entire life.

In the “real world,” we have schedules that change regularly: Deadlines have to be met; changes happen in responsibility; and we work different shifts. Life Choices can help you to be more flexible and fluid with those changes. You will discover how your priorities change as you invest in yourself and the important relationships in your life. It may be challenging at first, but over time, it will be rewarding.

Life as an addict is living reactive to your environment; shooting from the hip. Looking for some relief and never finding anything long-lasting is called “Chasin’ Jason.” It’s a weary pattern.

Life Choices helps you to start somewhere; anywhere. Plan to live by your choices.

Begin to engage with your future. Life Choices can help you begin.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:8

Self-care is not something you do on your own. I encourage you to use Life Choices to enhance your experience within Pure Desire.

Join me at the Pure Desire Men’s Conference, where you will learn that self-care is not self-centeredness; it is learning to respond to the Father’s love with the help and capacity of His Holy Spirit. I speak from experience. Pure Desire is the place you can experience the Father’s love, acceptance, and grace.


Jeff Yellow Owl

Jeff is a bi-vocational Pastor of Church on the Rock in Wapato, WA. He also works as a behavioral therapist for the Yakima Nation. Jeff's educational background is in Theology and Ministry with an emphasis in Christian Counseling, while also receiving a Master of Social Work from Eastern Washington University.





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