It’s Friday night and you’re just getting home after a long week at work. You got home late because your coworker asked for your help with something “real quick” as you were preparing to leave that took an hour.
On the ride home, you got a call from a friend who was upset and wanted to vent so they spent your whole ride home (the time you wanted to be quiet and destress) presenting problems to you and asking you what they ought to do.
As soon as you walk in the door your partner/child/family member/neighbor/random person walking by asks you to help them with blah, blah, blah….
And dinner isn’t prepared..
It's two hours later and you’re still in your work clothes. You haven’t even sat down and your back and feet are screaming. You are utterly and completely drained and have nothing left to give.
Then you hear the cellphone ring………
Does any of this sound familiar?
While it is so easy to blame everyone else for your exhaustion, most of it could be resolved with a simple thing that everyone is talking about all the time these days.
What is that miraculous and simple solution?
Self-care. And that first word says it all. Self. That means it's something YOU do.
What Is Self-Care Anyway?
Self-care is anything you do to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
It’s what you do to promote your health and well-being.
It can be simple or it can be grand and as long as you feel an upward swing in your energy and/or more calm and peaceful you should feel the benefits of good self-care. We all know that going to the hair/nail salon doesn’t always produce those feelings. Don’t get me wrong, they can, but not always.
Why Do I Struggle To Take Care Of Myself?
Even though you know somewhere inside that you are running on fumes, you don’t always just stop. Or more accurately, you don’t ask yourself what to change so you can feel better.
You have probably even advised some of the folks who reach out to you to take better care of themselves. Some of you may talk about the benefits of self-care all the time.
But doing it for yourself is a nonstarter.
It’s even worse knowing that you’re hurting yourself and that you need to do something, but you continue to set your own needs aside. And you have absolutely no idea why you do that. Let me help you with some possible reasons that you always seem to fail with your self-care:
You’ve been taught to believe that what makes you a good person is putting others first
I think they must put this one on replay in the bassinets of baby girls in the hospital as some type of brainwashing tool so females leave the hospital already knowing what they’re supposed to do. Or the indoctrination may start when as a toddler you’re forced to share your toys with various children who invade your space. The adults admonish you for not sharing with little Johnny or Jane who is never going to return the toy. And you get patted on the head and told you’re a good girl when you comply.
The self-sacrificing can start early.
Your value and feelings of self-worth come from others or sources outside of yourself
Kids can go through a stage of life where they want to be seen by adults, so they try hard to get their attention. We see them working to entertain us and we laugh, and clap, and praise them. And then they keep going, and going, and going. Eventually they turn into surly teenagers though, so it doesn’t last too long or forever.
Some of you, however, never stop needing that. Your worth is tied completely to your ability to respond to someone who needs help. Or rather, your worth is tied to you feeling needed by the people you help. You sacrifice time, energy, money, health, etc., to be thought of as the person that is always ready to step in.
By the way, were you ever thanked for the extra time you spent helping that coworker last Friday?
Melissa Watson-Clark has been practicing as a psychotherapist since 2010. Working primarily with clients suffering with anxiety and depression she focuses on the power of nature to bring healing and restoration to her clients.