Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

I am typically one of those people who professes a love for all seasons. I find things in each season that brings me joy: sitting poolside, watching football, walks in the snow, gardening.

But this winter has been very different for me, and I have been feeling a bit unmotivated. Which puzzles me – is it that we haven’t had enough snow? Is it a lack of sunshine? Is it being stuck more indoors?

Whatever the cause, I have spent more time on my couch than I typically do. And though I have found joy sitting in my comfy clothes under a blanket watching movies, I have felt a little selfish. There are many tasks on my list to accomplish this winter. You know the list – the one with cleaning out the clutter and making ready for spring. But my biggest accomplishment this winter? Watching all three Lord of the Rings movies!

So, where does this feeling of selfishness come from? If I am finding joy in cocooning indoors, why do I let the thoughts of what I “should” be doing creep into my mind? I think it comes from two places. One is that I’ve always measured success by what I have done. The other is a place of negative feelings associated with being selfish.

I have noticed that the men in my life do not have the same angst about doing what they want. They tend to assess their level of energy, weigh their options and make a choice. Yet I, like many women I know, consider the needs and desires of others when I make decisions. I think to myself, I can’t just sit here, there are so many things I should be doing. But do I really believe that cleaning out the closet is more meaningful than paying attention to what my body and heart want to do?

Of course not. My well-being is very much connected to how I take care of myself. There have definitely been times in my life that I have ignored what my heart and body needed, and those times have taught me to be much more in-tune with the messages I am receiving. Sometimes my body lets me know when it needs more rest, or I get the urge to be creative. Other times I recognize that I need some quiet time to turn off my mind, or the laughter of friends.

The trick is to ignore the tendency to describe taking care of myself as selfish. If I frame my current desires to create a cocoon as taking care of myself, then I am more apt to give myself what I need. Mothers of daughters, this one is for you, too. Your self-care encourages them to give their own needs as much attention as the needs of others, to value their own feelings in the same ways we teach them to value others’ feelings.

 

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