Taking Care of Me
This is an area that can be difficult to balance or even sort out in our own minds. It tends to sound “selfish” and often when I am working with someone, he/she (but usually she) struggles with how to put herself first because it feels selfish.
So what does taking care of self look like if it isn’t being selfish?
It is all about balance. This means that taking care of me has to be on your “to do” list just like taking the kids to soccer, making dinner, or reading the kids a bedtime story. If you aren’t doing this now (putting yourself on the list of priorities for the day or the week) then you probably need to look at how to do this. Taking care of yourself will ultimately bring you happiness. True happiness can only come from you doing it for yourself. It can’t come from other people doing it for you.
I recently was asked by a young mother how to balance things regarding having time out with her husband and leaving her children with a babysitter during that time. She was getting mixed messages from others, especially her mother, who did not approve when she and her husband would go out. She cares about her children and certainly does not want to do anything to harm them emotionally. So let’s consider this: all parents really want for their children is to be happy. If we are not role modeling how to take care of ourselves, balance our lives, and still be good parents being present with our children, we are not teaching our children that they have control and responsibility for their own happiness as well. Doing all for others and not taking care of ourselves is not the magic formula for happiness (for either the giver or the receiver).
Guess what?…..these are the same people who come into therapy and don’t know how to focus on themselves, but rather focus on how others in their life are doing as if it is a gauge of how they are doing.
Taking the focus back to self is difficult but the bottom line is that if we are not taking care of ourselves, we have nothing to give back to others. And eventually if we are out of balance in caring for others, we run out of juice. This can manifest in many different forms, but regardless, it is painful and usually makes us stop and regroup to make ourselves a priority because of the pain we are feeling. To stay energized, balanced, and healthy, we must be filling our own bucket. No one else can do this for us.
So what are some things you can do to put energy back into your own bucket?
have a date night with your partner
ride your bike
take a hot bubble bath
take a walk by yourself
take time to write in your journal
take a nap
go out with friend
add candlelight and a book to your bath
go to the coffee shop and read the paper
call a good friend
say “no” to something you don’t have the energy to do
There are many other ideas, but this gives you a glimpse of what it might look like for you. Obviously exercise is something that should be built into your days on a regular basis, but if you have to start with it being a special thing, then start there.
If this is completely foreign to you, then start with some baby steps, small little things that make you feel good and move into some bigger gifts for yourself as you begin to try it on and get more comfortable with it.
If you find that you just can’t make the time to give to yourself, then you really need to consider the possibility of doing some therapy to look deeper at what your belief system is about yourself (e.g. I am not worthy of being happy; I don’t deserve it; I have to work hard to deserve a good moment, etc.) These thoughts and beliefs can be changed if you start to identify them and replace them with the thoughts and beliefs you really want, but it takes some focus and desire.
So for today, pay attention to your self care and assess whether you need to work on improving it to keep it in balance with all the other caring things you do. And then care enough about yourself to do something towards making it better for you!Tags: balancing self care, balancing self care with not being selfish
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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