When is the last time you thought about your overall happiness? How much time do you focus on your own self-care and self-love?
I think about how much time I spend taking care of other people or how much time I have spent in the past taking care of other people. I think about how many meals I have missed, how many days I ate poorly, how many times I didn’t drink enough water or get enough rest. I told myself I did these things in service to others. I sacrificed to help others get what they need—things like good meals, rest, etc. I always thought if I was pushing harder for longer, that it would pay off. My sacrifice would be rewarded somehow—less work later maybe, maybe return of a favor, maybe someone telling me they loved me.
But, what really happened was the following: I got tired and wore down to the point of becoming really sick and then I gained weight. What happened is that people came to expect that crazy level of effort from me all of the time, and when I didn’t or couldn’t deliver, I was punished in some way or everything fell apart because no one knew how to do all the crazy stuff I always took care of. And when I did meet expectations, it was usually rewarded in the form of more work. It was a never-ending cycle. And do you know what a prolonged period of self-neglect does to you? It erodes your confidence. It skews your self-image. It makes you respect yourself a little less. All those days I thought that I was being strong—that was bologna. I was becoming weaker in every way imaginable.
I now know that in order to be a true help to anyone, I have to first take care of myself. I have to eat right and take the time to sit down and finish a meal. I need to carve out time to exercise. I need to carve out time to myself—to read, to meditate. I absolutely need to get enough sleep. In order to be an effective coach, lawyer, podcast host, mother, citizen, friend, teacher—you name it, I have to be on y game. And staying on my game takes some work, but it is definitely worth it.
I look at it this way—what would I say to my daughter if I saw her meeting others’ needs before her own? If I saw her working herself to death? If I saw her trying to please people who can’t be pleased? If I saw her sacrificing herself and her light? I would throw a freaking fit—that’s what I would do. I would sit her butt down and give her a good lecture on why she needed to stop. I would talk to her about her health, her wellbeing, her self-image and her self-respect. And I would share with her the mistakes I have made so that she wouldn’t be as ready to repeat them. So, if I would do that for my own daughter, and I know my daughter is watching me at every turn, then I absolutely need to do it for myself. And you out there, you absolutely need to do it for yourself as well. Because if we won’t take the time to take care of ourselves, to love ourselves, no one else will either.