Do you find yourself doing, doing, doing for everyone but yourself and then feeling consumed by guilt when you decide to take time for you or set limits around your availability or what you’re willing to do for others? Do you label yourself as “selfish” when you want to do something for yourself or even by yourself? Do you ever feel ashamed because there are times you don’t want to do anything for anybody else?
These questions may feel a bit uncomfortable (maybe even silly), but really think about this for a moment. How often do you do something for or with others because it just doesn’t feel right to focus on yourself? If you really delve deeper, I bet you’ll uncover these exact beliefs and feelings (or something very close) at the root of your actions or inaction.
These three culprits are notorious for tripping women up and keeping us from taking care of ourselves:
Yes indeed, they can trip us up and keep us from being the sparkling diamonds we’re meant to be. Yet, our beautiful, brilliant, multi-faceted radiance cannot shine if we don’t take some time to polish and buff. Just like a diamond, we need self-care in order to really glitter and glow.
Let’s take a brief look at each of these:
Guilt – if you are like most women, you might feel guilty for taking time to replenish your own reservoir of life-giving energy. If, however, you intend to continue giving your time and attention to loved ones, the only way you can do this is to be kind and loving to yourself first. As odd as it may seem, the most loving thing you can do for the people you care about is to first take care of you. So right now, right here, write down at least 1-3 things you can do to nurture you – and then do one of them!
Selfishness – sometimes others take advantage of your desire to serve. They can call at all hours of the day and night and expect you to be available at a moment’s notice, especially when they’re experiencing a crisis. When you get courageous enough, you may set boundaries around your availability. As soon as you do, an alarming voice might resound in your head, screaming at you about how selfish you are being. That distorted belief of what it means to be selfish kicks in and challenges you to wonder how you could ever think you were so special to deserve to put yourself first. Along with beliefs of selfishness come thoughts of how horrible you are. To overcome this ask yourself what your pay-off is for buying into the belief that you are selfish. Then set a healthy boundary and stand strong.
Shame – felt right after selfishness is the third self-deprecating feeling. You feel ashamed for thinking you were so special or significant as to put yourself above another. The dance of blame and shame begins as another way to hold you back and keep you from taking care of yourself adequately.
Many women wrestle with these three feelings and beliefs. At the top of the heap is usually guilt. Ask yourself, “Who would I be without guilt?” Dig deep to see if you can get to the root of what holds you to these feelings of guilt because without guilt you can be a new woman—sparkling, replenished, refreshed, and ready to give once again to others.
The best way to make this shift is to start making choices that honor your own value. For instance, if you decide to nurture yourself by going for a run and a friend calls to vent, either let the call go to voicemail or answer the call and let her know you’ll call her back afterward. When you allow others’ needs to take precedence over your own, you are not valuing yourself. It’s imperative that you make yourself the priority. You can then stop the guilt by reminding yourself that when you feel out of sorts, the quality of your giving will be less than adequate.
So take a break and take care of you. It will help reduce your own stress, keep you in good health, and allow you to be even more nurturing to others. Then, what others will get is the best version of you: the sparkling diamond that is YOU.