After several months of seeing my therapist, I finally realized that I picked up a very detrimental behavior from my mother – family comes first… period! Although that statement takes on several meanings in different contexts, as I matured in life, I began to take that statement quite literally. I know I’m not alone on this. What did that mean for me? Well, for me that meant putting off graduate school, moving to another city that wasn’t my choice, having to work a job that I never planned on doing… and that was all within 1 year! Yes, there are times when you have to make sacrifices when it comes to family. That’s all a part of being a family. But when those sacrifices come at the expense of dishonoring your own needs, you are subject to waking up one day frustrated, bitter, and exhausted! Sounds familiar?
Although I understood my mother’s sentiments regarding putting your “family first”, continuously fulfilling the needs of others (including your own family) while forsaking your own needs and desires often comes with a cost. That’s where I had ended up. I had given up so much for the sake of my family that in return, I was unfulfilled and unhappy.
But there’s hope!
Have you ever wondered why flight attendants instruct you to place the oxygen mask on yourself first before assisting someone else? If you can’t breathe, you can’t help others. Let me put it this way, how can you really be any good to anybody else when you are not your best, authentic self?
Don’t worry! Self-care is NOT being selfish.
The primary characteristics of selfishness are: (1) Being concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; and (2) Having no regard for the needs or feelings of others. Selfishness never produces peace and happiness. Self-care is choosing to nurture your inner needs and desires; it allows you to freely give without feeling completely depleted over overly exhausted. Self-care produces pleasure and contentment, for yourself, as well as for those who genuinely care about you.
Here are three dimensions of self-care:
Loving yourself can be something as simple as giving yourself a small massage, or taking a look in the mirror and affirming yourself. “I love you just the way you are.” or “I believe in me!”
Loving your life
Show gratitude for the good and “the bad” of your life, or take yourself on a “self-date”.
Loving the things that drive you…your passion
What are you good at doing? Find the opportunity to nurture it! Create the opportunity to do it!
Remember, practicing self-care takes time before it is a part of your daily lifestyle. Be patient with yourself, and watch your life transform into something beautiful and rewarding.