If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say that looking after yourself and engaging in self-care is “selfish” I’d have been able to retire with an abundance of financial security years ago.
I had spent years throughout the first 20 years of my career telling myself that I didn’t have time to slow down, I had to keep myself busy and just keep doing the do as I just had so much to do, so many people to help and I just loved what I did.
However, what I wasn’t prepared for was the exhaustion and ultimately burnout that came with that. I realised that something had to change….
I was great at telling everyone else they needed to take time out for themselves but not so good at taking my own advice. I wore busyness as a badge of honour and took pride in being ‘super busy and productive’.
I finally got the wake-up call that I needed, via a complicated surgery that resulted in me facing my own mortality and finally making a decision to make those long awaited changes and start to slow down, to start to do some more things for me.
That lasted a little while, but I wasn’t very good at giving to myself, certainly nowhere near as good as I was at giving to others….so I gradually fell back into those old traps, not necessarily being as busy as before, or not in the same ways as I was not physically or emotionally able to do that, however I was certainly able to give of myself to others as I had always done and took comfort in being able to help others and feel needed.
Fast forward to now….
I have two very close and dear friends who are going through some major health challenges right now, one with a recurrence of ovarian cancer and the other with newly diagnosed breast cancer and they mean the world to me. In the face of these insidious diseases these women are brave and strong and inspirational and I want to do all that I can to help them and walk beside them supporting them as I know I am able.
However, they continue to be amazing teachers in my life and have given me yet another wake-up call these past few weeks and with the help of another very dear friend who recently became a neighbour of mine I have finally realised I am ready to listen!
I now truly understand at a much deeper level, that I need to nurture myself and give to myself by way of self-care, self-love and self-compassion if I am to be of any use to my very dear friends or my treasured family members and the many more wonderful people in my life.
To those who have said ‘Self-Care is Selfish” and to those who planted those seeds of unhelpful beliefs in my mind from a very young age I stand up now and tell you NO that is NOT the case….
The definition of Selfish is ‘to be devoted to or caring ONLY for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare etc regardless of others and Selfishness is characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself’.
My intentions for Self-Care are definitely NOT purely for me…. for I now see self-care as a necessity if I am to be able to be here to continue to give to others. I see my ability to help and care for others as my gift and this is one I definitely wish to preserve and extend the life of as much as humanly possible.
Self-Care can be as simple as spending just a few minutes every day doing nothing, no thinking, no talking, no social media…. Nothing …. just you being connected with you and your most inner self.
Here are 7 reasons why I believe that Self-Care is essential and why you shouldn’t feel selfish when you look after yourself:-
1. Engaging in self-care allows you to connect with yourself at a deeper level and become more aware of who you are, what drives you and what aspects of you that you wish to keep and nurture consistently, and what areas are not serving you well so you can let them go.
2. Gaining a greater understanding of yourself will also assist you to identify your true purpose in life. Practicing self-care and building trust between you and your inner self will help you find your true purpose in life.
3. Engaging in self-care on a regular basis will also enable you to function more effectively from a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual perspective and you will actually have far more of yourself to give to others and feel more connected from a wholistic perspective.
4. Engaging in self-care activities also will enable you to explore and discover who you really are, and what you enjoy doing, as a lot of that may have become disconnected and gotten lost along the way.
5. Being calmer and more self-aware will come with engaging in self-care activities and this will then enable you to connect and engage more readily with others as you will feel more fulfilled overall.
6. Engaging in self-care activities will also allow you to connect with the emotional part of you, that you may have shut off or disconnected from for several reasons, often because it’s hard and it hurts…. however, reconnecting with these emotions and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable will go a long way towards helping us find our true selves and find courage to be who we really are, and who we want to be to and for others.
7. Engaging in and giving yourself permission to engage in self-care will allow you to improve your self-worth and develop a greater sense of empowerment and this will likely also lead to further engagement and motivation to help others, though not at the cost of your own health anymore.
So there are at least 7 reasons why engaging in Self-Care on a regular basis will be beneficial and why there is no place for selfishness in engaging in self-care activities. As by coming from this perspective you are engaging in Self-Care to assist yourself and also to increase your capacity to be worthwhile to others and assist them in the best way possible, though not at anyone’s detriment. It’s a win-win for all.
So I personally am making a commitment publically to engage in a regular self-care activity every single day so that I can finally nurture myself fully and completely and offer a new and improved version of me to the people that matter the most. I look forward to sharing my self-care activities and hope that you will join me in increasing your own self-care activities and be a part of my upcoming Self-Care Commitment as we embark on this challenge to be better versions of ourselves for the people that matter most in our lives.
I will look forward to being able to provide special care and support to my gorgeous friends and be even more valuable to us all. I look forward to having you join me
Dr Nat xx
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