Let’s be honest: The average person is terrible about self-care. And, as women, we are the worst at it. We, by God’s divine creation, are nurturers. We care passionately and deeply about others in a way that is profound and unique to us as women. We care to our own detriment at times, and it is often difficult to draw boundaries with ones that we care for most that continue to show them how much we care for and about them, while preserving ourselves and giving ourselves time to refresh and restore the reserves from which we draw. The unfortunate part about us as women is that we often have people in our lives who, for one reason or another, are not capable to giving back to us with the same fervor and energy that we expend on them. Our children are a great example of that. Until they are of a certain age, children are sponges, and our job as parents and nurturers is to pour information and experiences into their lives that will help them learn and grow into well-rounded, grounded people capable to contributing to society and the lives of others. Some of our professions are the same way. We are in positions as caregivers, caretakers, in some capacity of service that requires us to be compassionate and empathetic on a regular basis. Nurses, teachers, social workers, therapists, and the like, all run the risk of developing what some call compassion fatigue. It’s another way of describing the emotional burnout that we experience from persistently taking care of others, without taking the time to take care of ourselves. And it is no easy feat to balance out the things that we love so much and are passionate about, with the reality and notion that, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to care for others with the effort and attention that they deserve in the moment that they come to you. Plain and simple. Compassion must first be extended to yourself before you can truly extend it to others.
I learned this lesson the hard way. There are people in life who will take advantage of the fact that you are so caring and compassionate, to the point where they don’t care to try to reciprocate the efforts that you put forth. You see, sometimes self-care is about self-preservation. There are emotional parasites who exist only to suck the life out of you, and will abandon you when you no longer serve their purposes, when they have gotten all they can from you. Then they move on to the next person. We feel just as deeply for them, but it should not cost us everything we can give them in order for them to see our value in their lives. Self-care often looks and sounds like self-love, because that is where it stems from. Within yourself, you must be convinced that you are worthy of investment. No one will invest time in you if you don’t do it yourself first. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or call you selfish for taking time to invest in yourself and your mental and emotional health. If they try to make to you feel guilty, then you know that you have one of those emotional parasites on your hands, and that it is time for you to set some new boundaries. Don’t so afraid of people walking away from you that you become their emotional prisoner. The worst thing anyone can try to do to you is emotionally manipulate or blackmail you. This is why self-care and self-love are so important, because they allow you to see yourself clearly and take the time to renew and rejuvenate what has been depleted.
So, whatever it is that makes you feel amazing and refreshed, I dare you to make time to do it, and do it on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter what it is – going to the nail salon and getting a manicure; soaking in a bubble bath with wine and candles and music; going to a movie that you have been wanting to see by yourself; reading a book that you don’t think you have the time to read; a weekend away; getting a massage – whatever it is, just do it. You will thank yourself later. And don’t be afraid of spending time by yourself. Sometimes we are guilty of hiding from ourselves behind the guise of “being busy” and helping other people. Take some time to reconnect to yourself, to your sense of being, and embrace her. Encourage her. Take the time to speak life to your own soul, because your inner voice is the one that you hear the most and the loudest. Take the time to listen to the self-talk that you engage in on a daily basis, and correct the things that need to be changed. You are more than worthy of taking the time to invest and care for the beautiful soul of a woman that you possess. She is a gift – don’t take her for granted, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.