A conversation I have many times throughout the week, every week, is one in which I am encouraging someone to practice self-love and self-care. I have this conversation so often because many, many women I know and some men I know, too, are much better at taking care of others than taking care of themselves.
I understand completely, because I am also better at taking care of others. Over the past month, I have had several experiences that each reminded me that following my own advice about self-love and self-care is neither easy nor automatic. Faced with a choice between helping someone else or doing something that I believe I need to do to help myself, I always hesitate and feel some level of discomfort in choosing me. Always.
And so, I am writing this post because I cannot continue to suggest that others “take care of themselves first” without also acknowledging that this decision often sparks feelings of letting someone down, or feeling selfish, or feeling guilty.
Here are some things I have learned and am re-learning about practicing self-care…
… I need (and I choose this word carefully) to remind myself in the “decision-making moment” to actually DO what I advise others to do –- make the choice to take care of myself before caring for others.
… I need to remind myself in that same decision-making moment that delaying self-care is a chronic and unhealthy default.
… Once I have made the decision to practice self-care first, I need to examine closely the guilt that surges up even after years of understanding the importance of self-care and trying to practice it.
… I then examine whether I feel I do not deserve my own love and care, and why that could still be true.
And then, after all of this, I begin to feel better about choosing self-care and I ask myself, “Will this ever be easy for me?” The answer remains the same –- “I do not know.”