I know if you all are anything like me you are so used to caring for everyone else that you put yourself last in pretty much every situation in life. That can be both emotionally and physically draining.
Learning and building self-care is important to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself because it produces positive feelings and boosts your confidence and self-esteem. Self-care is necessary to remind yourself and others that you and your needs are also important. A major problem for many of us is time. We are too busy with our very full lives and we simply do not have time to pamper ourselves. Plus, with so many other things to do, self-care sometimes feels like an indulgence, or worse, a selfish act.
The first step to building self-care is to recognize that self-compassion is a crucial part of your emotional, psychological, and physical well-being.
Try to practice a little self-compassion. Self-compassion involves self-kindness and self-awareness. This means recognizing and accepting negative feelings as well as positive ones. Another way to say this is that self-compassion means recognizing and accepting our own humanness— yep…that means that we are not perfect.
While researching for this article I read that studies have shown that taking a more compassionate approach to personal failure can motivate you to improve yourself. What does that mean? Well, for example when people trying to lose weight were self-critical and highly demanding, they tended to gain weight; while when they practiced more self-compassion, they lost more weight. Genuinely learning self-care involves recognizing and accepting your imperfections, while also finding ways to improve yourself. It also often means making compromises. For instance, you might be torn between time with others and time at work, or time for yourself. Self-compassion involves managing the best that you can, without criticizing or punishing yourself for not doing things exactly the way you imagine you should be doing them. Unfortunately, the way other people react to this change in your behavior may not be positive. This is especially true if you have people in your life that would normally take advantage of your kindness and use you. It will not only take you a bit to get used to, but it will also take your loved ones a little time to. Afterall, they are used to you dropping everything and coming to their aid. This is when you will find out the people that you should keep in your life and those that you may need to just let go. I am sure that sounds a little harsh to some, but this is your life we are talking about.
Now, I am by no means saying just screw everyone else and do you. Anyone who knows me knows how important my family and friends are to me. It’s just taken me many years to realize that I must be important to me also. I am also not saying this is going to happen overnight. I struggle daily with it. I am known for spreading myself way too thin. I did not want to disappoint anyone. Hell, I would even drop things that were important to me to help a stranger or even worse, someone that I knew could care less about me and would never do that for me.
Self-compassion is all about balance, not perfection. And there are many ways to get to that balance: Mindfulness practices, psychotherapy, and conversations with friends, family, partners, colleagues and even your children can all help you gain perspective. Sometimes even talking to your animals (yep, that is me) can help because you just need to talk it out loud.
Bottom line… You are important. You matter. Make time for yourself by learning and building self-care and self-compassion.