Are you 'really' being self-ISH?

calm habits happiness mindfulness self love stress management Oct 22, 2023
Self-care isn't selfish, it's necessary

I couldn't tell you how many times I’ve had the same conversation with friends and clients – a repetitive tale of busyness, commitments, and the constant rush to meet the needs of others. It's a narrative of perpetual exhaustion and an inability to find time for self-care, healthy routines, relaxation, or even a simple moment of peace.

Perhaps this resonates with you, too. Maybe you've shared similar stories about your life, how it feels like a never-ending cycle of obligations, and how it seems selfish to consider doing something just for yourself. It’s as if putting your well-being first is an act of rebellion against the societal expectation that we should always be productive, available and selfless.

In these conversations, I often think about the obvious example of the safety instructions on commercial flights that tell us to “secure your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs." It's a message we all understand, but do we truly internalize its importance?

The underlying truth is crystal clear – if you don't take care of yourself, you’re less likely to be able to show up as your best self to support the people who depend on you. (And you'll be less likely to enjoy showing up!) Neglecting self-care doesn't just impact you – it impacts those around you as well. You owe it to yourself to prioritize self-care so that you can be at your best when helping others, and relish the simple joys of everyday life.

I’m sure you know that stress is one of the most significant contributors to a number of physical and mental health issues. Unfortunately, when self-care takes a backseat, stress tends to be a constant. Living with high levels of stress on a regular basis increases your risk of developing stress-related ailments, such as weight gain and heart disease – yikes!

We all know the feeling of stress – it shortens our temper, making us quick to snap at others. We may struggle to fully engage with people or tasks. Resentment and judgment can creep in. And then there's the physical signs – tense muscles, a clenched jaw, and a general sense of discomfort. It's not a pleasant way to live, is it?

So, do you want to continue feeling this way?

Why is it such a battle to take care of ourselves? Where do we learn that that’s acceptable or “normal” behavior? Why do we so often fail to communicate our needs or desires? If you’re like so many people I’ve heard from, you feel like you don’t have time. Or maybe that you have simply given up even trying because it’s just the way it is, right?

But here's the harsh reality: it's not that you don't have time for self-care; it's that you're not making yourself a priority. You're not effectively communicating your needs or treating them as priorities to those who need to hear them. You've been choosing to put others' needs ahead of your basic requirements, and they've grown accustomed to it.

Consider an example from my childhood. My brother and I understood that pouncing on my mom as she walked in the door from work was a bad idea. She recognized that she needed transition time, just 15 minutes, so we left her alone until she was ready to engage with us fully. Of course, she had to express this need and make it clear that it was non-negotiable.

Have you expressed your needs like this?
Have you diligently ensured that you receive what you're looking for?
Have you held yourself accountable in this regard?

Keeping in mind the impact of chronic stress and the number of demands we face in this fast-paced world, understanding your self-care needs has never been more critical. And when I say self-care, I'm not referring to mere coping methods. I'm talking about genuinely honoring yourself by setting boundaries and creating space for yourself.

Where did we learn to prioritize others before our own basic needs like making mindful, healthy food choices and getting a workout in? While being known as “selfless” may be admirable, it just isn’t sustainable when it becomes the daily norm.

Regardless, when you regularly take time for self-care, you’ll notice many benefits, including:

  • Make better decisions
  • Be so much more efficient
  • Be in a better mood and a better overall mental state
  • Be in overall better health
  • Feel so much happier
  • Be more likely to take action towards your goals and dreams instead of pushing them out into the future.

When you take time for self-care, you’ll also have the opportunity to be an even more positive influence on others, whether for a younger person or others like you who are struggling to incorporate the self-care time they need. Let’s change what we model!

Often, people push back by saying, “Yeah, I know, but I feel so selfish if I take time for myself and don’t do the things that I’m supposed to do.” Again, I have to ask: Where do we learn that? More importantly: Is it true?

Beyond our basic needs, we all also truly need to have quiet time to ourselves to contemplate, transition, meditate, journal, or other things that support mindfulness. We need quiet time to get clear on why we’re here and what our purpose is. Time to understand ourselves and the impact that we can have on this world. Time to get our thoughts, feelings and visions clear on what our passions are and how to go about following our dreams.

The bottom line is that we’re all here in this world to serve a purpose as unique as we are. Your purpose goes beyond the daily grind of work, chauffeuring everyone to their activities, and running errands. 

Consider when in your life that you felt the healthiest, most energized, most on-purpose and alive.

  • What did your life look like at that time?
  • In what ways were you taking care of yourself?
  • What boundaries had you established?

How can you bring some of those same things into your life today? How can you restructure your days and weeks to up your self-care game so that you can stoke that fire inside again? How can you get more support in your life?

Maybe you can simply begin by swapping the word self-ISH with self-FUL when it comes to taking time for yourself. Listen to your loving inner voice that wisely tells you that it's okay, and that it's actually in everyone’s best interest that you take time to be self-ful...often.😊

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