We all know we need to take better care of ourselves. From what we eat, to what we watch, what we speak, how we allow others to treat us, etc. Who actually does this though? I’ll be completely honest with you. Until a few years ago I sucked at this. I basically sucked at taking care of myself. I was great at taking care of others and helping others to take care of themselves but when it came to me putting in the effort for me, it just seemed selfish. How was I supposed to take time away from those that I love, those that I love that are in need of my time, in order to care for myself? When I would think about it, a lot of the time I thought I was taking care of myself just fine. I had a good job, a happy home, and happy dogs. I didn’t have to worry about finances too much. Overall, I had it pretty good. So how was I supposed to justify taking time away from others that I love when they were going through so much more than I was? I should have…I wish I would have learned before it all blew up in my face that not taking care of myself was actually hurting those that I was trying to take care of.
When we talk about taking better care of ourselves a lot of times people think it involves work or buying things. We work to take care of ourselves and our families financially. We buy things to make our lives and our loved one’s lives easier and better somehow. However, there is so much more to taking care of yourself than that. Taking care of ourselves can simply mean taking five minutes of alone time to gather our thoughts. Taking care of ourselves can mean beginning a healthier diet. Maybe taking care of ourselves is making sure we get some sort of exercise during our days. I have found a few things in my life that I do that just give me time to relax, get pampered a little and re-balance myself.
I used to think it was selfish to take time away from others to go get a massage. No matter how badly I needed it or what kind of pain I was feeling physically, I would put off my massage at the drop of a hat for someone in need. I even sacrifice my education for a while because I couldn’t justify going to school when my family needed me somewhere else. So basically, my aversion to self-care was actually holding me back in my life. That’s not fair. While I was helping everyone that I knew make their lives better, I was slowly losing my own. We have all had these moments. We have all sacrificed something that we wanted or needed for someone else. There is NOTHING wrong with that. Where it becomes something wrong is when we do it at the expense of ourselves. When our lives suffer because we are not making ourselves the priority.
We do this for so many reasons. Some people are just really nice and want to give everything they have to helping others. Some people just don’t realize how much they are sacrificing until it all comes to a head. Some people feel bad for not taking care of others. There are a million reasons why we do this. What I learned from doing this to the point of exhaustion was this, if I spend all of my time on others and none on myself, sooner or later I’m going to get tired and I’m not going to be any good to anyone. Another thing that I realized was that when you spend all this time and energy taking care of someone else you take away their ability to care for themselves. In my case I was accidentally taking away the chances and experiences that someone very close to me needed to be able to grow into the person that he is now. Had I set my boundaries and held back a little on the care he would have had to figure things out on his own earlier. This hurt him. Me caring for him and focusing all of my attention on him hurt him. Yes maybe it helped him a little, it made things a little easier for him in the moment but in the long run I robbed him of so many experiences that he needed to grow by simply taking them on myself. Now that is selfish. Me saying at any point, no you deal with it I have something I need to do and taking the time for myself to do things that I needed to whatever would have helped me at the time and instead just always saying yes I’ll take care of it actually hurt him. It took me forever to learn this. We have to relinquish control of things that aren’t ours to control.
I personally felt accomplished and in control when I was taking everything others had on myself. I felt like I was the unsung hero to an extent. I was no hero. I should have offered advice when needed and stayed out of it. I should have allowed him to learn and grow in his own way and in his own time. While he was doing that I should have been taking care of myself. Going to run. Taking that trip. Getting my hair done. Whatever it was I should have done it. Instead I ran myself to exhaustion and to the point that I couldn’t deal anymore. I was emotionally and physically exhausted and in a huff I put my foot down. Which again, hurt the one I was trying so hard to help. Talk about messing that one up in every way possible. That happens a lot. We think we are helping but what would really help would be for us to take a step back and focus on ourselves and let others focus on themselves.
I would have never gotten to the point of emotional and physical exhaustion had I made time for myself through all of this. We often don’t realize that the old saying “fill your cup first” is actually really true. The only way that we can fully be the best versions of ourselves for ourselves and for those that we hold dear is to take care of ourselves first. Make sure that you are in a good head space. Make sure that you are physically healthy. That way when the time comes to help someone else you have something to give them. If you have worked yourself to the bone then when someone comes to you and asks for help you will have nothing left to give them. Help yourself. Help others. In that order.
So what have you gone through where you chose to take care of yourself or to not? What has happened that you forgot to care for yourself? How did that work for you? Do you still do that? #SouthernMorningCoffee