A Commitment to Yourself

Most of the women I know pour out their love, their energy and their hearts to help family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and sometimes even strangers, often without being asked. There always seems to be a good reason for them to put others first. Does this sound familiar? If not, you have good advice to share with us. If, however, you struggle with putting your needs ahead of (or at least on par with) the needs of others, you are not alone.

Last month, a friend (let’s call her Eve) told me that she never finds time to do the things that she really wants to do. Eve explained that her family and friends are very social and busy people, and they expect her to be involved in their plans. The moment Eve realized that she was critically examining how her time is spent, she stopped mid-sentence and quickly dismissed her frustration. “I have so much in my life. Why should I spend time focusing on me and what I need?”

I am sad to say that I was not surprised at this unusual twist of logic. Eve is so out-of-touch with her own needs that she hardly believes she has any. I understand. Eve believes that self-love is self-indulgent. I understand that, too. Several years ago my friend Elizabeth shocked me into awareness with these words — “Do not worship at the altar of self-sacrifice.”

We all have responsibilities to those we love and of course we are happy to honor them. It is also true, however, that we cannot be expected to love others more than we love ourselves. We can choose to invest our precious energy in helping those around us, but we can also choose to preserve a bit of that energy for ourselves. It is a question of balance, a question of self-love versus self-sacrifice.

I humbly suggest that you spend a few minutes each day asking yourself how you are demonstrating that you love and respect yourself. If no examples come to mind, perhaps you can consider committing to love yourself at least as much as you love others. It may be a commitment that changes your life.

26 Responses to A Commitment to Yourself

  1. Reece March 5, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

    It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this excellent blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to new updates and will share this blog with my
    Facebook group. Talk soon!

    • sharon March 8, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

      Thanks very much, Reece. Please feel free to share your experiences with us.

  2. Mariano February 16, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    Excellent article! We are linking to this particularly great article on our site.
    Keep up the great writing.

    • sharon February 17, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      Thanks very much, Mariano.

  3. Melvina February 13, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    bookmarked!!, I like your web site!

    • sharon February 17, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      Thank you, Melvina!

  4. Ned February 13, 2013 at 1:14 am #

    Excellent article. I am dealing with a few of these issues as well.

    .

    • sharon February 17, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      Thank you, Ned. We look forward to any hearing your suggestions as well.

  5. Whitney January 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    Hey! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the great work!

    • sharon January 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

      Thanks very much for visiting the site and for your comment, Whitney. Happy New Year. I hope that 2013 is a terrific year for you and for those you love.

      With a hug,

      Sharon

  6. Virginie D October 24, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    Hi Ramona,

    I love it! What you wrote. It’s fantastic. I should follow your exmaple here.
    I hope the “O You” event went well and that you had fun!
    Best
    Virginie

  7. Anonymous October 23, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    I really needed this reminder – Thank you Sharon – Thank you all for sharing!

  8. RAMONA October 10, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    I MUST BE THE MOST SELFISH PERSON I KNOW.
    I TAKE VERY OPPORTUNITY, I CAN TO BE NICE TO ME.
    WHEN I HAVE A BAD DAY, I GET IN MY CAR AND DRIVE TO PRINCETON, TO HAVE BENTSPOON ICE CREAM.
    I GET 4 SCOOPS, 1 MINI CUPCAKE AND 1 CARMEL FUDGE BROWNIE.
    I SIT IN MY CAR AND ENJOY, EVERY TINY SPOONFUL. I EAT REALLY SLOW, SO I CAN ENJOY EVERY MOMENT.
    I WAS LOOKING THROUGH MY ‘OPRAH MAGAZINE’ AND SAW THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE ”O YOU” EVENT IN LOS ANGELES, 20 OCTOBER. I EMAILED MY DAUGHTER AND ASKED IF SHE WOULD GO WITH ME, SHE SAID NO. I WENT ONLINE TO SEE IF THERE WERE TICKETS. I GOT MY TICKET AND TOLD MYSELF, I WOULD GO ALONE, IF NECESSARY. I CALLED THE THIRD PERSON AND SHE SAID YES. I GOT OUR PLANE TICKETS AND BOOKED A ROOM AT, THE CHANNEL ROAD INN,BED AND BREAKFAST, IN SANTA MONICA.
    I USED MY FREQUENT FLYER POINTS
    SHE GAVE ME A CHECK A FEW WEEKS LATER.
    THE CLOSER IT GETS, TO 19-21 OCTOBER, THE MORE RELAXED I GET THINKING ABOUT ALL THE FUN I AM GOING TO HAVE.
    2 PEOPLE DIED AROUND THE HOLIDAY IN MAY, AT MY HUSBAND’S JOB. NOW, WE DO SOMETHING SPECIAL EVERY MONTH.
    I HAVE A CREDIT CARD.
    NOTHING IS PROMISED
    I WAS TELLING A GUY ABOUT MY DREAM FOR WHAT I WANTED,
    THE GUY TOLD ME,” DREAMS ARE FOR PEOPLE THAT SLEEP”.
    I DECIDED, IF I AM, AWAKE, DO SOMETHING, THAT MAKES ME FEEL GOOD, NOW, STOP PUTTING THINGS OFF.
    WE ARE THE MAIN THING THAT KEEPS US FROM MAKING OUR PLANS A REALITY. JUST DO IT.
    I HAVE BLESSINGS TO COUNT AND APPRECIATE THE DIFFERENCE I
    I CAN MAKE.
    I GET SO MUCH PLEASURE VOLUNTEERING.
    WHEN YOU OPEN YOUR HAND TO GIVE, THINGS COME TO YOU.
    YOU CAN GIVE AND RECEIVE.
    ”ONE MUST KNOW NOT JUST HOW TO ACCEPT A GIFT, BUT WITH WHAT GRACE TO SHARE IT”– MAYA ANGELOU.

    • sharon October 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

      Wow! Thanks very much, Ramona, for taking the time to share your comments, perspective and advice. You inspire us to take every opportunity to take care of ourselves, to “treat” ourselves to things that make us happy, and to do this now! I look forward to hearing about the O YOU event when you return from Los Angeles. Sending love and a very big hug!

  9. Patty October 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Hi Sharon
    As you know i work full time like many women and also take care of an aging parent Allowing for me time is something I just started forcing myself to do because i was diagnosed with a chronic disease that is worsened by stress Once you get over the guilty feelings of loving yourself and letting yourself have fun it feels GREAT. Start with something small like just watching a favorite tv show while eating ice cream or going for a little walk to enjoy nature. Sometimes I just visit the grandkids and play. I feel so good afterward. Other times I go shopping with a good friend and shop till I drop. Sometimes I just take a little nap. So refreshing. I hope all of your friends can find time to love themselves because life is too short not to.

    • sharon October 7, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      Thanks very much for your comments and advice, Patty. Your suggestion about starting small is one that can make it easier to change our habit of putting everyone else’s needs first. Thank you for the specific examples, too. Sending love and a very big hug!

  10. Paula October 4, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    I do a much better job now of making time for me and not feeling guilty about it, although the guilt does creep around still, sometimes. Reading is my me time. My choice of literature usually incorporates someone else’s experiences which is why “me” time is meant to be educational and enjoyable (In the Shadow of the Banyan, Unbroken, etc). Some books are just for fun, like Beautiful Ruins.

    • sharon October 4, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

      Thanks very much for taking the time to comment, Paula, and for giving us an example of what “me” time can be. Sending love and a very big hug!

  11. Katy Minuski (Fillman) October 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    Hi Sharon,

    I see this happen everyday with my mother. She has completely devoted herself to helping her mother, my grandmother, at the expense of her own life. This has taken a large toll on both her physical and mental health, both of which my mother has realized but shrugged off completely. I find myself getting very frustrated with my mother and not being able to understand how she can do this day after day. You see, my mother works 2pm-10:30pm monday-friday and spends every waking moment with my grandmother in between, including all weekends. This has put a serious strain on her own life, leaving little time for herself and her own needs. I wish I could help her and I have tried to speak to her many times about this but this is the path she has chosen. The best I can do which honestly does seem to help is to help her escape when I visit from school. I take my mom out shopping, to see a movie, or something of the like just so she can have a little break from everything. I think that it gives her a little time “to herself” even though she’s with me. I know it’s not the same but I’m fairly certain it helps her. The best advice I could give someone who is facing a similar situation is to be spontaneous or do something fun that you haven’t necessarily done in a while, even if you’re not specifically taking time to yourself. Every moment like this helps.

    • sharon October 3, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

      Thank you very much for your comments, Katy. It is difficult to watch loved ones sacrifice themselves, and it sounds like you have done much to help your mom. Her choices may be difficult to understand, but they offer good lessons and I appreciate your willingness to share them with us. I hope that someday your mom will realize what her wise daughter is trying to help her see. Sending love and a very big hug!

      • Janaya November 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

        That’s a smart answer to a tricky quetsoin

        • sharon November 15, 2012 at 7:37 am #

          Thanks, Janaya!

  12. Wilma deZ October 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Hello Sharon,
    Having a service oriented business of assisting time-deprived women with their wardrobes and self images, I often neglect me. Two years ago, I received a wake-up call when my 25 year old grandson died of sudden cardiac death. Part of the healing process was taking time each day meditate — writing or listening to beautiful music. Your blog is a great reminder to keep that commitment to myself.
    Sending love,
    Wilma

    • sharon October 3, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

      Wilma, losing your grandson must have been devastating for your and your family. I admire you for making a commitment to yourself as part of your healing after such a terrible loss. It is an excellent lesson for all of us and I am grateful to you for sharing your story with us. Sending love and a big hug!

  13. Virginie D October 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    Hi Sharon,
    It may be stupid but the way I try to demonstrate how I love me is by taking the time in the morning to put my makeup on. I feel good, I feel happy, I feel I love and respect myself.
    There are so many women who are still worshiping at the altar of self-sacrifice thinking it’s a sin or a sign of egoism to take care of and to love oneself! I will definitely share this blog with my friends.

    All the best
    Virginie

    • sharon October 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Thanks so much for so openly sharing your thoughts with us, Virginie. And let me add that there is nothing “stupid” about any way that we choose to demonstrate that we love and appreciate ourselves. I am happy that you have a time each morning when you can smile at the amazing woman you are. Sending love and a very big hug!