We have all heard, “You have to love yourself first,” “You need to take time for you,” and many other well-spoken phrases over the last few years. So why hasn’t anything changed? Why are there still people out there putting themselves on the list last?
And, making excuses for it or justifying it?
In coaching, we do talk about self-love, taking time for you, making yourself a priority, all under the umbrella of Self-care. What we often find is a lot of resistance, reasons and very often excuses. The funny thing is, we have forgotten one simple, important fact. If we burn ourselves out and don’t take care of us, we are not going to be able to care or help anyone else. I often tell my clients, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Yet, many of us are trying to do just that, day after day!
Here are the 5 most common reasons, excuses or justifications I often hear for putting ourselves last:
1 “I don’t have time!”
Let me be frank here….Duh! Of course you don’t have time. You are taking care of everyone else, the dog, the house, working full-time and praying you can get dinner on the table before 9pm! Of course you have no time, you are spent everywhere else.
So what can you do?
First, really look at your day. Where is your time going? Are you playing a full-time chauffeur? Are you spending 4 hours each night in front of the TV to de-stress from your full-time job? Are you just constantly cleaning and have to have the house immaculate at all times? Are you volunteering for everything? Are you saying YES to everything and everyone? Who are you saying NO to? How much of your day is spent on someone else or something else? Is this what you want?
Second, what can be changed? If you hate your job, find another one with the same or more money and less stress. If you’re constantly cleaning, would it give you back 20 hours a week to hire a maid? If you’re volunteering too much, could you say “Not this time around, but thanks for thinking of me?” Are you saying YES when you want to say NO? Think about the decisions you are making, what are you doing that really isn’t serving you but is draining you?
If this (#1) is a common response for you, how can you rearrange your day to give you more time?
2 “My kids, husband, boss, etc. need me!”
Yes, that may be true at times. But, do they really need you all the time?
Are there times when you do something because they expect you to or you want control over a situation? Could the kids benefit from learning to do things on their own? Is there a fear of being unneeded?
What can you do?
We teach people how to treat us and we also teach them what to expect from us. If we always do everything, we will be expected to do everything. If we decide we are not going to do that anymore and start doing less, we allow someone else to step up to the plate and take responsibility, while giving ourselves a reprieve from additional duties.
When we do EVERYTHING, we don’t allow others to give because we are doing all the giving. I have found with myself and clients, the hardest thing sometimes for us is to be able to RECEIVE. Many of us can give, give, give… but receiving is not always that easy.
If this reason (#2) is a common response for you, how good are you at receiving?
3 “I’m not that lucky, rich, fortunate, etc.”
Sometimes self-care is seen as a luxury for people who are very wealthy, who are fortunate not to have the same responsibilities or struggles or even seen as someone who is just lucky because they are not in the same situation as me. The ironic thing is, it is often the busiest people with the smallest amount of time or the people struggling financially who figure out first. They have learned the value of taking care of themselves.
The struggler knows if they are not in good health, they can’t work. If they can’t work, the struggle becomes near impossible. The busy bee knows that if they don’t get their self-care worked into their day, their stress or anxiety may take over and cause problems with energy, low productivity, dwindling creativity or other things that can destroy their busy lives.
What they have figured out is self-care is the key to their physical and internal success in life. It’s what keeps them going and running optimally.
If this reason (#3) is often your response, are you running at your best or are you giving yourself an excuse why others can and you can’t?
4 “I have SO much to do,” “I’m so busy,” “I work 100 hours a week”
Because our culture is so much of a Go, Go, Go society, saying these things is almost like a badge of honor. Working hard and constantly is seen as a value and being busy is looked upon in the same light. After all, what would you honestly think of someone who has a lot of free time on their hands?
I bet it didn’t go in the positive direction did it?
Of course, it’s okay to be busy. Of course it’s okay to work overtime. However, when we keep telling ourselves and other that “We’re so busy, we’re so busy” we also increase our stress levels. Guess why? I brain believes what we tell it and what we tell others about ourselves! Words and thoughts are powerful.
How would it change your day if you took out those phrases? Would your schedule seem to calm down? Would your stress level decrease? Would you start sleeping better? Would you suddenly seem to have more free time than you ever had? I know one thing for sure, your feelings about your schedule and life would change… for the better!
If this reason (#4) is something you often tell yourself and others, could you do ONE week without saying you’re so busy or telling people how many hours you worked?
5 ‘I am just so exhausted!”
Yes! You are putting everyone else first and on a busy schedule, making absolutely no time for yourself. Of course you are exhausted! What else could you be? Again, our bodies believe what our brain tells it and if you are constantly saying to yourself “I’m so tired,” you’re going to be tired. Even if you are tired, what if you told yourself, “I’m getting my second wind” or “I have so much energy” and believed it? It can work!
Oprah recently went through this herself with her most recent TV series and realized the power of her words. When she changed them to “I’m getting my second wind” she wasn’t feeling as lethargic and fatigued as she had before.
On another note, when we are tired, the most common sense thing to do is get some sleep. Yet, we don’t do that. We grab a latte or raid the candy jar to give us a bolt of energy instead of resting as our bodies are asking us to. Recognizing when we need sleep is just as important as when we are hungry or thirsty or have to use the restroom. It is a part of our basic needs.
If this reason (#5) is something you chant on the daily, what would happen if you changed your words to increase your energy? What would happen if you took a quick 15 minute nap or went to bed a little earlier this week?
Putting ourselves first is not a luxury, it is a requirement. We can do, give and provide so much more in life when we are replenished and nourished from the inside out.
As Katie Reed so intelligent wrote, “Self-care means giving the world the best of you, instead of what is left of you.”
Go get out there and give the world the best of you!