In this article, I will talk about the importance of self-care. The topic of self-care seems very popular these days but what exactly it means? I noticed that many of us will talk about self -care but actually will not be doing it or not really seeing the point of taking care of themselves. I have noticed that for many people more important is taking care of other people, other people’s needs and desires than actually themselves. Most people are more caring about what other people think of them than what they actually think of themselves!? Why is that? Why do we all tend to think of ourselves lastly? I will explain it all later in the article…
I am sure you have heard the “self-care” phrase many, many times. But did you ask yourself what is self-care for yourself? What self- care would look like for you? (Not in general, not the definition of it, but rather looking at the meaning of the self- care for YOURSELF).
My own journey with self-care
During my 5 year training of becoming a psychotherapist, the topic of self- care was coming back to me like a boomerang. Did I understand it at the beginning? Of course NOT! I remember getting frustrated with the lectures and with myself, for not getting the whole self- care thing.
At the beginning I was asking myself why do I need to know this, I want to be a therapist, I want to help others so why am I sitting here and learning how to take care of myself? At the very beginning, I didn’t see any link between the two, because for me it was two separate concepts. Now I know that self- care is one of the most important things of being a psychotherapist. Therapist’s self-care impacts the quality of therapy they provide. So if I want to help other people I need to make sure that my own batteries are charged before I will be able to give some of that energy back to someone else who needs it.
From an early age we are expected to care for others, to put other people’s needs before ours. How many times in your childhood you heard, “Sharing is caring” or your parent was forcing you to share your things that you really didn’t want to share? But ultimately there was this guilt feel involved if you didn’t share it… Well, have you ever seen an adult telling another adult that they should share their clothes, their cars, private things with someone else? Why is it ok to tell the child to share their toys with other kids, but it is not ok for an adult to share their private things? For a child their ‘private things’ are toys… so what is the difference? (Alice Miller explains this ‘phenomena’ in her fantastic books. I really recommend it!)
We are growing up believing that other people are more important than us, we are believing that we have to look after everybody else but not ourselves because otherwise, we will be selfish. We want to be so kind and being perceived as a good person that we are forgetting about ourselves and our needs. But coming back to the topic of self- care, and not seeing the value of taking care of yourself first… Is it how we should live our lives? Is that how you want to spend your life, your one life that you got? When will be the time to look after yourself?
Self-care is NOT selfish
People often think that if they start taking care of themselves and start doing things for themselves they will become selfish. But let me tell you something, self-care and selfishness are not even close concepts. They are completely different from each other.
Self-care is doing something for yourself that you enjoy, self- care is staring to acknowledge your own needs and desires. Self- care is exploring what you like and what you don’t. Self-care is to be more assertive and to be ok with prioritizing yourself when you need it (Not changing your long made plans for someone else for example). Self-care is caring about yourself as much you do care about someone you love/like. When you are taking care of yourself, you are able to feel empathy towards yourself and others. Self-care unlike being selfish is not ego-based. People who are selfish or narcissistic are empathic towards other people.
The purpose of Self- Care is to empower yourself!
Your journey with self-care
I am always encouraging my clients to start caring for themselves, to stop waiting for someone else to do it for them… Permit yourself to do something for yourself. Give yourself permission to prioritize yourself and your needs. There is nothing wrong with it! If you do not start taking care of yourself; who will? It’s your life! So it’s your responsibility to take care of yourself. Ask yourself what you enjoy? What makes you feel better, what makes you happy? What makes you feel better about yourself? Before any decision you make, or if you feel that there is an expectation from someone else, ask yourself what good it will serve you? Do you want to do it?
Stop letting other people dictate you what to do or tell you how to live your life. You have the power of choice. Don’t be afraid of making choices for yourself. Create the life you want to live, not the life you think is expected you to have. Stop procrastinating or making excuses, your life will not stop and wait until you will be ready to live. Your life is already happening. But it is up to you if you will live the life you want or your life will be something that is happening to you.
My mum was always telling me that if I won’t respect myself, no one else will do it for me! So it is the same with self- care, if you won’t look after yourself, no one else will.
Where to start?
You can start taking care of yourself with small steps, it could be something like having breakfast, tidying your bedroom, having a shower, going for a walk, journaling, anything at all. Then you ask yourself what makes you happy, what’s your hobby? If you don’t know, find out, find out by trying different things, and start reading about different interests. Ask yourself what you really liked in your childhood, what was your dreams in your childhood? You can start with childhood desires. The important thing is that you are starting to do things that are FOR YOURSELF. You need to start seeing yourself as a worthy person, start perceiving your life as valuable, as worth living. You need to realize that only you can make yourself happy. And self- care is a starting point…
This article is related to my book, which I am planning to publish at the end of August. J I will keep you informed of any progress on my Instagram and Facebook page!