Listen to the audio of this post, here.
How do you choose you? There are times in our life when we need ourselves so desperately, that we grasp for something - anything - in all the places outside of ourselves because we're craving relief. It's in these moments that we don't show up for ourselves.
Maybe we don't know how. Maybe we don't realize how important it is. Maybe we think it's selfish or unnecessary or downright foolish.
We've been taught that being selfless is heroic. We've been fed the idea over many generations that to put others before yourself makes you a good person - the best kind of person.
Wives were taught that it was their duty to serve their husbands - no matter what, even if it's not reciprocated, even when you're unhappy. We may not even realize the stress that comes from balancing on the high-wire - be giving and forgiving, kind and motherly, domestic but relaxed, and don't forget! Be fun and sexy.
Mothers were taught that raising their children is the best job there could be and that they should want to do it every day, all day, and do it well (by the standards of strangers) but never complain. Mothers still hold themselves to ridiculous pressures and suffer from excruciating mom-guilt. There are so many opinions and we've been conditioned to consider these opinions as advice and expertise.
It is ingrained in you to be selfless and giving. It's practically in your DNA - mother and wife, or not - to be nurturing. We nurture those around us... to a fault. And we consistently forget to nurture ourselves. We are so focused on making sure our families thrive (or our fur babies. or our careers.) that we forget to even pay attention to ourselves. Even when we can feel ourselves in the grip of burnout, and can sense how selflessness has taken away our flexibility, we often find it impossible to take the self-care steps we need to break the brittle shell that's hardened around our back, and face, and heart.
We need to feel beautiful and buoyant. We need to feel rested and resilient.
But, the most ironic thing in this cycle of needing and being needed is that the only thing that can fuel you is you. You are your best source of energy - you just need to find manageable ways to restore your energy before giving it all away. Your husband, partner, career, and kids can bring you so much. They can give you happiness, determination, fulfillment and joy at times, maybe even most of the time. But, without paying attention to yourself and taking moments to choose yourself over everyone and everything else, you'll just end up tired, burnt out, and brittle again and again and again. You might feel it frequently as your ride the highs and lows of a stressful season, motherhood, or a high-maintenance job/relationship. Or maybe you keep pushing forward for years until you crash into a breakdown or depression or crisis.
Choosing yourself is hard. I just launched a self-care challenge to a group of amazing women. I poured hours of my time into creating a 5-day email course on how to choose yourself; like actual practical tips on how to do it and inspiration on WHY to do it. And you know what? During the week that those emails were automatically zipping off into the digital universe I was tired - emotionally and physically. I was even a little sad. I was choosing numbing tactics (like shopping, Netflix, dessert) like they could fill me up when I know, first-hand, that only self-care can do that.
So, my husband left this morning with our two littles in tow for 2 days and 2 nights so that I can have time. Quiet time. Peaceful time. So much time I don't even know what to do with myself. It's hard. It's hard making it happen. It's hard admitting you need it. It's hard asking for it. It's so hard. Even with over a year of soul-searching and sifting and becoming a student of myself and really KNOWING in my heart and soul that I NEED time alone, it's still so hard. I can put a halt to self-care faster than most. But, pumping the brakes on time for me only ends up breaking my own heart. Because the one thing we don't want to admit (because it's too uncomfortable and sad) is that choosing ourselves is dependent on two huge factors that we don't want to think we don't have enough of: self-love and our self-respect. And if we don't have enough of those two things then we just don't care for our Self the way we care for others. We are so selfless. I want to be sweet, but I don't want to be selfless anymore. I want to be self-full. So full in Self that I bring all the best of my energy and talents to everything I do. So full in Self that I hesitate less to ask for what I need. So full in Self that I easily create my own rest and resiliency. So full in Self that I feel relaxed and fun.
Choose yourself. It's hard. And it's necessary.
1. Schedule solo self-care. And make it non-negotiable.
2. Practice saying No when you feel like saying No.
3. Make time for your own interests and hobbies - and if you don't know what they are - make an effort to discover them.