Selfishness vs. Self Care

August 2, 2008 denifay7

I am in reflection about the need for self care…

Our society is so DRIVEN,  money driven, success driven, career driven, family driven, esteem driven, praise driven, recognition driven and with all of this driving, I’m wondering where we end up?  When is it okay to stop driving for a moment and look inward, and give time to ourselves?  So many people suffer from burnout and exhaustion, that the effort that they are giving can’t possibly be 100% or even close, yet we press on.  We work, we volunteer, we help friends/family, we go back to school, we shop, we read, we study, we move, move, move–where is that breaking point?  And how did we get to be a society that is so driven that we aren’t even allowed to yeild, much less stop for a moment?

When many of us try to stop we can’t enjoy the rest.  We ‘plan’ activities for our entire vacation.  We schedule appointments, meetings, and social gatherings during every waking moment.  But what about me?  What about taking care of myself so that I have something to offer someone else?  Well now, that is just selfish!  You don’t need a day off, or a Sunday nap, or an uneventful vacation–that is time that you could be productive!  When did self care become selfishness?  How is it that taking some time to rest and rejuvinate leaves so many of us feeling guilty or beating ourselves up?

In doing some of my soul searching I’ve noticed many things, but the main one is that we all push ourselves too hard and we all struggle with the balance of ‘me time’ vs. all of our commitments.  For me to take a day off and spend time reading, relaxing, pampering myself should be a gift, the way that I would treat others, but instead I feel ashamed and sense judgement in the voice of others that I tell about my plans.  Think about all that you do for other people.  I’ll name things that I see my loved ones doing…caring for their elderly parents, taking care of neighbors homes/animals, feeding those who have just had a baby/lost a loved one, throwing showers for friends, taking late night calls from someone sad, keeping friends children, washing laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning house, mowing yards, fixing broken toys, sending cards, visiting the hospitalized, volunteering for organizations, helping motivate people, giving hugs, buying gifts, sharing food/clothes, traveling to visit friends in need, and the list goes on and on and on.  Why then should the great things that we do for others be ‘wrong’ for us to do for ourselves? 

I don’t see it as selfishness to take time for one’s own sanity, but as being caring to youself.  If you don’t care for yourself, no one else will.  So, take time to love yourself and get back to the you that is comfortable and feels secure because you are being treated well.  I can tell you with absolute resolve that I know I am a better wife, friend, daugther, sister, leader, volunteer, sounding board, support system, etc when I have taken some time out for myself.  When I feel rejuvenated the first thing I want to do is give to others and I do so with SO much more joy than when I feel beat down, exhausted, or taken advantage of.

You ponder it…see if a little self care isn’t necessary in your life.  Take a bubble bath with a good book and a glass of wine.  Get a massage.  Go swing on a swingset with children.  Have a water balloon fight.  Take an afternoon nap.  Buy yourself fresh flowers.  Have lunch or coffee at your favorite place.  Get a pedicure or manicure.  Buy some really indulgent shampoo that awakes your senses.  Whatever you do, by all means be loving to yourself, so that you have something to give others!

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