self care

Selfish, or Self-Care?

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Are you a giver? A people pleaser? I see many clients in my office who are exhausted – who thought they were on the right path, and yet they’ve lost the energy they once had. Some are mothers with young children. Others are students working on their PhDs, or adult children taking care of aging parents. They’ve reached a crisis point and have nothing else to give. Many times they don’t know who they are other than the roles that define them. As they tell me their stories, I reflect and respond with “no wonder you’re exhausted!”

No one can give all the time without getting something in return. These “givers” have been focused on others.

They exhibit much empathy, care, and compassion for others. They are often recognized for all the amazing things they do. And, they are amazing – it’s just not sustainable for the long run.

“Is there something wrong with me?” they ask.

“No, there is nothing wrong with you,” I reply.

There are, however, a couple of primary elements missing. The first is a lack of self-focus. Self-focus includes: empathy for self, self-care and self-compassion. When I state this, I experience a silence and a puzzled look and sometimes tears. They often wonder, “would that not be selfish?”

“No,” I reply, “considering yourself means you value yourself. You believe you are worthy of the same love and care as those you serve.” Sometimes this takes awhile to sink in.

As we explore and find ways for them to love themselves, they begin to become grounded in who they are. They start to value themselves. The sparkle returns to their eyes.

The second element of self-focus involves how they interact in their relationships. Healthy relationships require two things: 1) holding to your own values without compromise, and 2) receiving help and care from others.

It’s wonderful to give and do for others, but you don’t want to give at your own expense. Your values are too important to compromise.

How well do you receive from others? If someone gives you a compliment, are you able to receive it?? Can you accept help and care from others?

As my clients begin to take better care of themselves and learn to believe they also deserve care and compassion in their relationships, their energy begins to return – energy that allows them to offer more to the world than ever before.

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