Self-care is not about self-indulgence. It’s about self-preservation. – Audrey Lorde
Gretchen Rubin said on her happiness podcast that sometimes we need to treat ourselves like toddlers. With toddlers we attend to their needs, making sure they’re hungry, comfortable, and get enough sleep. When it comes to ourselves, we often ignore what we need in favour of others’ needs, what we feel like we should do, or what sounds fun at the time. You might agree to plans for a few nights in a row even though you know you’ll be cranky and tired because you need to get to bed by a certain time. You might skip lunch because you’re busy working, but you require that food to give you energy and a needed break. To help get into this mindset, Gretchen actually thinks about herself in the third person as if she were managing someone else – “What does Gretchen need? Gretchen can’t accept your invitation to speak at an event because she is finishing her book.” Thinking about yourself as if you were managing another person allows yourself more compassion and takes the cloudiness out of it (“Should I do it?”), and it might give you some clarity (“This is what Gretchen needs.”)
We are often willing to make the effort for other people, but it is important to make the effort for ourselves too. In her book What I Know For Sure, Oprah told the story of a life coach on her show who said mothers and wives had to look after their own needs before their families, and the audience booed. Oprah tried to explain that we can’t give to others if we have nothing to give, but it’s still a popular opinion that we should put ourselves at the bottom of the hierarchy.
I know for sure that you cannot give to everybody else and not give back to yourself. You will end up empty, or at best, less than what you can be for yourself and your family and your work. Replenish the well of yourself, for yourself. And if you think there’s no time to do that, what you’re really saying is, “I have no life to give to or live for myself.” And if you have no life to live for yourself, then why are you here? – Oprah Winfrey
Game Plan: You are worth the effort. Pay more attention to your own needs and try self-managing from a different perspective. When your own needs are taken care of, you will be better able to give to those around you.