The Truth That Nobody Tells You About Self Care
As far as I remember, I was always a good girl. I was such a good caretaker that it has become my normal part of life. I took care of my home, my daughter, my husband, my parent, my siblings, my clients and my students.
The ‘good girl’ role has also become my identity and how I define my self-worth. I know I wasn't alone. So many of us, especially women, have taken this 'noble' role. What we don't realize, until it was too late, is the high price we pay for being too generous.
Although I felt good about caring for others, I have to admit that I don't have enough time for myself.
I felt resentful for helping others to be successful while I never had a chance to do what I really wanted to do.
Some of my friends were extremely needy, and yet I still kept them in my life. And feel guilty when I say “No” to their request.
I felt overwhelmed with the housework that was piling and overdue tasks. I lost sleep working on all request from demanding clients. I felt anxious and I didn’t even know why.
I cooked and prepared breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snack as my daughter has special diet requirement.
I skipped exercise and withdraw from social life. My body started falling down, my health was deteriorating. I lost weight (not in a good way) and loss of sleep each night
Yes, I was a good girl and it was sucking the life out of me. It is robbing my life away. I spent so much time taking care of anyone but I forgot to take care of the most important person…MYSELF.
Making Pleasure a Priority
The turning point came when I visited a naturopath and the first question he asked me was “How much ME time do you have for yourself every day?”
ME time? What is “Me time”? I don’t even have any time.
That was when I was introduced by my naturopath the term of “self-care”. Which means I need to take care of myself.
My naturopath suggested I go for the massage once a week and take the time to myself every day. That sounds like an impossible task.
A massage once a week? How could I afford that after becoming a stay at home mom and we rely only on one income?
And time to myself every day? Who is going to look after my daughter? I barely go to shower in peace without a child calling mummy.
I need to quit being a martyr and focus on getting my needs met. I had to stop expecting others to read my mind and start being direct about what I want.
Ask for Help
Trying to ask for help long before you needed it is part of self-care. I also had to begin asking people to share my load instead of attempting to do it all myself.
Finally, I had to stop being an auto machine saying yes whenever people ask for my help and instead of learning to say NO with confidence and ease.
Making pleasure a priority is a self-care, not just a massage in a couple of months, or once a year vacation.
It means leaving work in the middle of the day to walk in nature, great massage once a week, developing a daily habit that makes me feel happy and nurtured. Including listening to the music that I love, reading the book that I enjoy so much, drinking my favorite tea or even just to buy a flower for my dining table.
The Challenge of Self Care
I also discover that making these changes wasn't easy. When I look back now, I realize I learn this self-sacrificing attitude from the woman in my family.
I wanted people to like me, enjoy spending time with me, to see me as wise and helpful.
I also wanted to avoid the anxiety I felt whenever someone disapproved of something I did.
And I realize something really irony, that if you really want to live life an authentic and meaningful life, you need to master the art of disappointing and upsetting others.
Accept the reality that some people just would not like you. It might not be easy but it is essential if you want your life to reflect your deepest desire, value and needs.
I have learned that when we care for our self deeply and deliberately, we become conscious and conscientious people. We tell the truth.
We make choice from the place of love and compassion instead of guilt and obligation.
As a mom, I learn to make my own need a priority instead of always attending to my child first. In turn, it helps me to raise a more confident and independent kid.
Self-care takes patience, commitment, and practice.
We have to deal with some uncomfortable feeling such as guilt for putting your own need first. For being judged and criticized by others. Even anxiety for challenging the long-held belief and behavior.
Because there is no quick fix, below are the way to help you practice the self-care to help your practice in small steps
Whenever you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, burdened, resentful, ask yourself these questions:
Where do I feel deprived? What do I need more of right now? Who and what is causing me to feel resentful and why?
Your answer will help you to call for an area in your life that need more awareness of what needs to change.
I feel deprived of solitary, uninterrupted time away from my child and husband, which allows me to do something just for myself such as writing a blog, reading a really great book.
I need more sleep, I need someone to help me to do the housework and take care my daughter.
I was too concerned with what people thought of me and I was bending forward and backward only to be liked.
My fear of conflict and my desire to keep the peace keep me from telling the truth. I want people to like me as I feel uncomfortable when they don't.
Put Limit on Toxic People
Have you met anyone in your life that continuously dump their frustration, anger, emotional issue on you?
And yet they never do anything to change their behavior. This is the kind of people whom I think never take responsibility in their own life.
I did disappoint a friend when I decided enough is enough to take her demanding request. God knows the amount of anxiety I had when she was disappointed, angry and hurt because of me not fulfilling her request as usual.
But I have decided to break a pattern of self-sacrifice, I start saying NO, and setting the limit, putting boundaries to protect my own time, energy and emotional needs.
I resolve to take care of myself. The more they tried to make me feel guilty, the more I decided not to give in.
It’s time for us to be honest and direct in a kind and loving way with people in our life so that we can stay focus in meeting our own needs.
Tell the truth, with grace and love. With respect and care, not to manage their emotion.
While we can't control how other people react, but we can control how we feel and how we choose to make a point.
Enjoying a life of Self-care means caring for emotional, physical and spiritual health in a way that aligned with who you are and what you need.