I find that many of my clients struggle with separating selfishness and self care. I've dealt with that struggle myself - many of us grow up with unhealthy messages about what it means to put ourselves first. It's hard setting healthy boundaries and learning when and how to put our needs first. Many of us experience guilt when saying "no", even with the smallest tasks. I know many "superstars" that are such excellent multitaskers, expertly handling whatever life throws at them, that they completely forget to tend to themselves. But the bottom line is, the most important relationship you have in your life is the one you have with yourself. And that relationship needs to be nurtured every day.
By taking time for yourself and saying no when you need to say no, you are telling yourself that you are important, that your needs/time/wants/thoughts are important. This does wonders for your self esteem. If you aren't able to put yourself first, chances are it will be hard to allow others to put you first in their life. If you aren't giving yourself compliments, it's hard to receive them from others. By treating yourself well, you are showing others how you expect to be treated.
Have you taken a flight recently? During the pre-flight safety drill, we are instructed to put the oxygen mask on ourselves first before putting it on a child. Why is that? It's because if we aren't able to take care of ourself first, we may not be able to take care of others.
Most people have a hard time putting themselves first because they care about their loved ones and the relationships they have with them. It's easy to think that the best way to nurture cherished relationships is by putting others first. However, constantly putting other people's needs ahead of your own is exhausting and draining. It can even lead to resentment and dissatisfaction towards the people in your life. It's important to learn how to set healthy boundaries and learn when to put your own needs first. By taking care of yourself, you will see that your relationships will flourish and deepen. It's easier be a better friend, parent, partner, daughter, cousin, employee, co-worker, etc when you are relaxed and happy.
Prioritizing self care and setting healthy boundaries will only lead to a happier, more fufilled life. Your family and friends only want the best for you and want you to be happy. There is no judgement in asking for help or saying you need to take time for yourself. In fact, I think if more people voiced their need for self care, it would probably ring a bell with others who aren't practicing but could use more of it in their life. And if you're a parent, every time you model healthy self care you are teaching your children how to do so. Your actions will show them that you value yourself, which will help them learn to value themselves too.
Of course this is a balancing act that takes time to get just right. A great place to start it by being more aware of your feelings, needs, and wants. Check in with your feelings before saying yes to something. Start giving yourself more "me" time. There are many different ways to show self-love - check back next week for some great tips about how to add daily self care to your life. For more information on how our mental health services can help please give us a call at (813) 340-6944.