Why self care isn’t selfish

Have you noticed there is a certain stigma that comes with making yourself a priority?  When did taking care of our needs become a “selfish” way of thinking?  When you constantly put other peoples needs in front of your own– you should probably ask yourself if you are truly happy.  Now, don’t get me wrong–I am not suggesting that you ignore the people that are close to you and indulge only in your desires, that’s just narcissistic, but why not take care of yourself and tend to your happiness, as well?  I was inspired to write this since I coach many people who feel guilty when they take the time to put their needs first (or even second and third) before tending to others around them.  I say “I can’t relate”!  Here are some reasons why it’s critical to scratch these ideas, so we can find the balance with those around us and more importantly, find balance with ourselves.

Once upon a time, I was a people pleaser, too.  I was always saying yes when I meant no.  I was saying no when I meant yes.  I was going out when I didn’t feel like it.  I was doing things I didn’t feel like doing and I stopped doing things that made me feel happy.  I even gave up on activities that people looked down upon.  I wasn’t exactly happy.   I didn’t like the person I was bringing to the table.   And trust me– I do not need to have kids to explain that even if you’re a parent– you also need to make yourself a priority.  I have talked to many parents that become very unhappy and most will open up to me, nearly regretting that fact they have children, because they don’t know who they are if they weren’t in the role of parenting.  It’s quite sad really.  When I ask what they like to do for fun, many times I get silence or I get a well constructed line about how their happiness is through their kids.  (which may be very much true for some people, but certainly not all) . Eventually, a lot of them break down talking about how they miss their life prior to having children or they are waiting for some milestone in their children’s life to “take that trip” or “go on that vacation” or pursue “a life long dream”.  The same thing can happen in relationships, too.  When your partners needs are met and yours lack, there is a misbalance and it just leads to resentment, unhappiness and unease– sadly, on your end.  What if I told you that being so-called “selfish” makes you a better partner, parent, friend, and work colleague?  It’s true!

Who are you bringing to the table when you show up for people in your life?  Are you energetic and light?  Are you stressed out and depressed?  Are you sad and resentful?  What are you ignoring or putting aside for others?  Have you given up hobbies?  Your workout routine?  Your diet?  Reading?  Dreams and desires?  Friendships?  Sex?  When I talk to clients, I am amazed about the things they have forfeited for the needs of others.  Some people have dropped out of school/college to please others.  Guess what?  Most of them are miserable and have turbulent relationships and end up resenting the people closest to them since they have given other people the permission to care for themselves.  Yet, they neglect their own needs.  Should this really be our norm?  Does this sound healthy to you?

Ladies and gentlemen, in the event of a cabin pressure change, safety masks will drop from the ceiling.  Please, place your mask on first before helping others…….    We have all heard this on every flight we take.  Because we cannot take care of others if we cannot breathe.

We are unable to give when our cup is empty.  Eventually, we run out of things to give and we run tired.  It’s important to find the things in life to refill your “cup of happiness ” in order to show up for the people around us.  Remember, self care is not selfish– it’s necessary.  The people that are well balanced in self care show up for their loved ones and people in their life.  They bring the best version of themselves for others.  They are happier and have less stress and some say they become a better parent, friend and partner when their needs are a priority.

You don’t need to spend all day, every day in a spa or take a European trip to fill your cup.  Here are some small ways to do so without spending a lot or taking time a lot away from your loved ones.

*Regularly schedule some “me time” for a few minutes daily.  Even if it’s for 10-20 min.  Having small amounts of time daily is more doable, plus it helps to increase your vibration.  A brisk walk, read, sip tea, take a nap, play with your pet, talk with a friend, quick facial, manicure, journal, meditate, etc.  Even easy things like these are accessible and not expensive.  Just make sure to do something for yourself on a daily basis.

*Schedule time for more fun things to do weekly.  Dinner with friends, go to the gym, go to a movie, go on a small hike, tap into your creative side like paint or scrapbook, get a massage, make a fun meal, go to a play, go to a concert.  I am a huge believer on having a schedule to plan out your week to get certain things accomplish and yes, I do schedule my “me time” and “creative time”.  

*Learn to say no and mean it.  Learn to say yes and mean it.  Try not to commit to plans right away.  Learn to check your schedule to see if this fits into your week/month.

*Learn to unplug from social media.  This is HUGE today.  I have learned to stop checking social media after 7pm.  Limit how much time you spend on it.  We constantly compare our day to day lives with someone’s highlight reel and it can cause discourse on how we view ourselves.

*Plan a trip once a year.  It can be another country or the next town over.  But pencil in a trip with a parter, family or friends.  Getting away with those close to us certainly helps to fill that cup and added bonus, it gives you something to look forward to and gives you a goal to work towards. 

*Date night.  I see this a lot with parents.  They tend to almost forget about their partner and get comfortable with the daily stressors of life and always talk about how tired they are feeling.  This is your life partner and it needs to be important to make time to go out for a date.  Get dressed up and go out for a few hours and if you can, go out overnight!  Parents need to get away and be a couple again.  Go out and have fun, flirt and be light.  Connection with your partner ultimately makes a better parent.

*Don’t make plans with people you no longer wish to be around.  People that no longer serve you and you no longer enjoy being in their presence– just stop committing to plans with them.  I know I have kept certain people in my life for far too long and it only caused me stress.  Always stay in good company.  

*Get sleep!  I cannot stress this enough.  I know new parents find this difficult.  Get to bed earlier when you can and if you have a partner, make sure the responsibilities are equated.  Even if you don’t have children, make sure rest is a priority.  I cannot relate to those people that brag how they only need 4 hours of sleep.  What?!  Not me.  Most people function better with 7-8 hours and are less likely to have health issues.  (this is a proven fact, BTW)

*Have sex!  Yes, if you neglected your needs sexually, it shows.  I am not suggesting going to a brothel, but have sex with your partner if it’s “been a long time”.   Long term relationship require more work to keep sex active.  Make intimacy a routine with your partner.  

I hope you can see how making yourself a priority, ultimately, makes you a better person for those in our lives.  Doing small things daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly can change how we approach our loved ones.  There should be no shame or guilt to take care of ourselves.  

What can you do to schedule time for self care?  Make a few changes here and there and make it a routine and watch how your relationships flourish.  

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