Many people have trouble with the concept of self-care because it is often misunderstood to mean selfishness or self-centeredness. But ask yourself this: are you a more loving, patient and kind person when you are neglecting your own needs and saying yes to things you’d prefer to say no to? Or are you a more loving and patient person when you’ve taken time for yourself before heading out to care for others? Chances are you are more loving and kind to others when you have been kind to yourself.
I can hear someone protesting, “Wait a minute, I’m loving and kind even when I do things just to people please?” But let’s be honest for a moment…really? If you’re operating from a place of compulsion rather than a place of intentionality, how is that truly loving? Allowing yourself to be controlled by other people’s expectations and demands isn’t an act of love for them or for yourself.
Self-care isn’t about being unloving or uncaring towards others. Nor is it giving in to what everyone wants and needs. It is about assessing why you are giving in to others’ demands and then operating from a healthier position both towards others and yourself. It’s about being kind to yourself just as much as you are kind to others. One doesn’t have to negate the other. It’s simply putting yourself into the equation of people you care about.
At first it will feel uncomfortable, but that’s because change takes times and if you’re not used to taking care of yourself, you’ll possibly feel wrong or guilty about doing so. But don’t worry, it will become easier with practice, as all things do.
So, what is self–care? Self-care is a way of letting your own empty cup be filled so that you have something to give to others. Jesus withdrew from everyone to be alone and pray in solitude. He didn’t allow other people’s expectations to push him around. He wasn’t operating from a position of people-pleasing. He was operating from a position of pure love which is why he had no fear of people. Maybe that’s what Scripture means when it says, “Perfect love casts out fear.” Jesus filled up on his Father’s love and then, when his cup was full to overflowing, he poured it out into the lives of others, so he always had something to give. This is how we are designed to give of ourselves.
It isn’t that we won’t have anything to give if we don’t take care of ourselves, but it is very likely that if we don’t practice proper self-care, we will become bitter or resentful about giving and that’s when our giving shifts away from love and into something else.
So if you find yourself getting pulled into things you don’t really want to say yes to, take a step back and ask yourself, “Why am I saying, ‘Yes,’ to this?” The answer may surprise you. And at that point you can take steps toward graciously saying, “No,”– which I cover in this post.
If you need some help with practicing better self-care, you can schedule a free 30-minute coaching call with me by clicking here and booking yourself an appointment. I’d be happy to talk with you.