Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

At what point does self-sacrifice become self-neglect? What is often praised as heroic and caring can be the very thing that is hurting your health. If you have anxiety or depression, you likely know all-too-well what it’s like to neglect yourself. It can even feel wrong and selfish to put yourself first. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

It seems that most of us are pouring from an empty cup. If you’re someone who has no problem extending your help to others, but always forget to take care of yourself – this one is for you. It’s time to rethink what it means to prioritize yourself.

Why is Self-Care So Hard?

You probably want to do better at taking care of yourself. You make the promises and do your best to keep them, but always seem to fall short. It might even feel like pulling teeth trying to get yourself to keep these well-intentioned promises to yourself. You’re not alone.

True self-care is challenging. It’s not always retail therapy and taking bubble baths. Self-care is also going to therapy and setting boundaries, among other difficult things that most people struggle with. It’s especially difficult for those who were never modeled self-care to begin with. 

Ways To Better Support Yourself

The biggest act of self-love is showing up for yourself. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it. You probably notice the affect that self-neglect has on your mental health and the way you show up for others. If you want to be a better support system for yourself, you must first lay the groundwork.

Let’s look at a few ways you can build a more solid foundation for supporting yourself.

Get To Know Your Needs

Everyone has their own set of emotional needs that are individual to who you are. If you’re used to self-sacrificing and meeting everyone else’s needs, it can be difficult to identify what your own needs are. Not knowing your needs causes problems in relationships and impacts your mental health.

Identifying your needs is a reflective process. There’s a chance you’ve never even asked yourself what it is you need. You can get to know your needs by constantly checking in with yourself. When something feels off, ask yourself how you’re feeling and why. Get curious and bring awareness to how you feel each day.

To start, here are a few questions that will help you explore yourself and what it is you need:

Keep Your Promises

Have you ever struggled to forgive someone after they’ve broken your trust? In some cases, forgiving that person might even seem impossible. The challenge you face when another person breaks your trust is the same challenge you face when you break your own trust with yourself.

Skipping exercise, eating out when you promised to cook, or neglecting to take 10 minutes in the morning to meditate are small ways we breach our own trust every day. These might seem like no big deal, but over time this slowly breaks the trust you have in yourself, and it gets harder to accomplish promises in the future.

You can break this unhelpful habit by slowly rebuilding trust in yourself. Instead of making lofty promises, start with one small, achievable promise each day. Retrain your brain to believe that you will show up for yourself. Breaking habits is a marathon, not a sprint.

Learn When to Say No

A lot of times we like to go above and beyond to show our support for others. As good as it feels to make someone else happy, it can reach a point that is unhealthy for both you and your relationships. Saying yes when we really want to say no builds resentment over time and takes a toll on your mental health. Identifying your boundaries will help you determine when it’s time to respectfully say no.

Early experiences often teach us that saying no to others is bad. This is where people-pleasing is born, and we spend our life overextending ourselves to feel worthy. You are just as important as the person asking for your help. Learn when you need to say no.

Get Support from A Therapist

The relationship you have with yourself is the foundation for your entire life. Caring for yourself is just another vital way to care for your community and support your mental health. Your most important job will always be taking care of yourself.

The most important jobs are often the most challenging. It’s even more challenging to do it on your own. With the support of therapy, you’ll have expert guidance to discover what self-care means for you. Your therapist will work with you to undo the blockages that have kept you stuck in the past.

Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.

Author
Dr. Michael Messina

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