Self-care is not just a bubble bath, gua sha, and under eye patches before sleep. It’s much deeper than that.
How often do you sacrifice something important to make other people happy? How often do you disregard your own needs and desires to meet someone’s expectations? How often do you do something that someone expects from you as if you owe them? Have you ever felt that you’re trying too hard to please someone even if they have never asked you to do so? Have you ever felt that you sacrifice too much for others, while they never bother to do something for you in return? Have you ever felt that you put too much effort to make someone happy, to please or surprise someone while the person you do it for doesn’t put equal effort for you? Have you ever felt resentful because of it? If so, keep reading and I’ll show you what true self-care is and how to be your own priority.
Immediately after being born many of us are being taught to be good members of society. Some families instill a thought in children that they are obliged to do certain things in a certain way to meet expectations of family members and society. Even when you’re already grown-up, you feel this obligation to meet those expectations, otherwise you’ll be considered rude or irresponsible or not caring enough. What does it have to do with self-care? – you would ask. Let’s find out what true self-care is together.
What is self-care?
Self-care is refusal to sacrifice your own needs and desires
Some people prioritize themselves and do only what they want to/what is profitable/what is convenient for them, while other people seem to never be their own priority and try hard to please others even if it means sacrificing their own needs and desires for it. Moreover, some people expect others to put them first, to be their priority, but they never make those people their priority in return. Can you relate? When you sacrifice something for others on a regular basis, it eventually feels like stealing from yourself. As a result, you may start feeling resentful towards people you’ve been trying to please. However, there is no use in feeling resentful because resentment alone is never helpful. See my article How to Let Go of Resentment. This negative emotion, which acts like poison, is dangerous to health and can ruin lives. Overcoming resentment does require a lot of willpower, work and effort but it’s essential for personal growth. When you learn to prioritize yourself, there will be less reasons to feel resentful of.
I’m yet to learn to prioritize my own needs and desires too. For many years I’ve been following certain traditions which as I thought existed in my family. For example, I celebrated my birthdays with my relatives – something I wanted to stop doing many years ago. I’ve always dreamed about celebrating my birthday by travelling abroad or by spending the day the way I wanted. But I had to disregard this wish because of my mom who made me attend the party she threw for our relatives every year even if I asked her not to invite anyone. This year I’ve managed to stand my ground and celebrate my birthday the way I wanted: with my closest family members without any guests due to quarantine (as the next day I travelled abroad, so I didn’t want to see people who could be sick). Self-care: 1 – Pleasing others: 0.
Self-care is not forcing yourself to give more than you can
Self-care is giving only as much as you can. It’s important not to force yourself when your inner battery is low and save energy for yourself. Some people are used to giving so much that they can ignore their poor physical or mental state, give up their own dreams, and force themselves to keep giving and pleasing others. What can it lead to when this person gets nothing or at least much less in return? Resentment, anger, disappointment, hate, blame, etc. To avoid these destructive emotions, one should not take up more responsibilities than they can take or give just as much as they can without sacrificing anything.
Another important thing one should learn is that people you try to please may not have any expectations from you. I mean sometimes we think that others expect something from us, so we try to meet these expectations without ever asking whether they actually have any expectations at all. This way we cause lots of trouble for ourselves. We try to do more and sometimes we try too hard, sacrificing something important to us but the truth is that the person we do it for may may not even need it.
I spend certain holidays congratulating my relatives that live in different parts of a different city. I don’t mind buying gifts but I mind the time because I spend the entire day trying to make other people happy instead of celebrating the holiday myself. Every year I give up my dream celebration to get other people in the holiday spirit, yet I don’t even know if they need it. I feel obliged to follow this tradition. With this obligation in mind I forget that I’m living my life for myself. I am the person I should put first. I am the only person whose dreams I’m obliged to fulfill. Maybe it’s time to celebrate this holiday the way I’ve always wanted? Maybe it’s time to finally pay more attention to my own happiness?
Self-care is letting yourself treat someone the same way they treat you
My general rule is to treat people not as bad as they are but as good as you are. But unfortunately, we all are not saint and sometimes we are so done that we just can’t take it anymore. Stop smiling at and trying hard to please someone who doesn’t care about you! It’s okay to give just as much as you were given. It doesn’t make you a bad person. You don’t have to bend over backwards for people who are not happy to see you/forget about you/don’t put equal effort to make you happy. Being polite is important but being polite shouldn’t include extra efforts to please people who don’t care.
Self-care is letting yourself put yourself first
My last job helped me realize that most people will always only pursue their own selfish interests disregarding interests of others no matter what. I understood it when people cancelled appointments with me without notice and told me lies afterwards. Some of them never apologized as if my time didn’t matter. Some wanted to reschedule our appointment and wanted me to sacrifice my personal time for that. Some did reschedule the appointments but never showed up anyway. Some apologized and promised me to never do that again but then did the same thing. They all wanted me to understand their situation and help them but they didn’t want to understand me. They didn’t care how much time I spent waiting for them and how much I had to sacrifice to reschedule our appointment for my personal time. The worst thing for me was that I had to be nice with people I didn’t want to be nice with because they walked over me. I had to betray myself and pretend that I wasn’t angry and resentful.
Eventually, I quit the job because I finally let myself pursue my interests and make self-care my priority. I wanted to live a mindful and stress-free life without the need to reschedule my personal plans, sacrifice my sleep, smile at people who walked over me.
All in all, I am certain that true self-care is not exhausting yourself in workouts to look fit, letting yourself eat a cake whenever you want, using a gua sha to look better or buying a ton of body scrubs and creams. It’s not about doing something to impress other people and not about succumbing to your own temptations either. True self-care is always being your own priority, being your own best and wise friend, which means listening to yourself more and putting yourself first.
Ready to take even better care of yourself? See these amazing 42 positive affirmations for self-care, self-love, confidence, healing, and other daily positive affirmations and life-changing affirmations for women with wallpapers for phone.
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