Do you remember when you were first?
Before you had a partner, before you had kids? When you and your life path were what occupied most of your thoughts?
Or maybe you never had the luxury of that moment. Maybe you were responsible for others too young, and never had the time to dream your own dreams.
Whatever got you to the place where you are now—occupied mostly with the health of kids or aging parents, making sure others are eating right and enough, getting others to their doctors’ appointments—you lost focus on you. And that’s understandable because you feel a great responsibility to those others. I commend you for that responsibility.
So what I’m going to tell you now may sound harsh, or cold. It is against everything that society tells us we are supposed to do as women.
You must put YOU first.
It sounds so selfish! (It’s not).
People will hate me! (They won’t.)
It’s just not possible!
But IT IS.
Hear me out. You are a thinking person so I’m going to reason this through with you. And by the end of this article something will click. When that click happens you are ready to start.
Let me be real with you. In our twenties our bodies let us get away with so much. Ramen noodles. Late nights. In our twenties we bounced back! This twenties body spoiled us for our bodies to come.
In our thirties our physical selves could tolerate less yet more was asked of us. Sleepless nights because of babies (not parties!), eating the leftovers of a grilled cheese sandwich (instead of a proper meal). In our thirties the body forgives a little less, and we need to care for ourselves more. But our family and career situation makes that harder.
I’m sitting at the beginning of my forties right now and let me tell you: There is no more wiggle room. There is no more bouncing back. There is a deep need for rest and self-care. Yet the demands of caring for others only grow. Parents age. Kids age. Small problems become big problems.
Wherever you are on this path—your 20s, your 30s, your 40s—the moment to put yourself at the center is now. The more you need to care for others, the more selfish you must be about caring for yourself. There are three reasons for this:
- You must prepare yourself physically for the tasks of caring for others. You need strength. You need energy. This is not negotiable.
- You need to be an example for those you care for. You want them to care for themselves. You would never look into your daughter’s eyes and say, “Make sure you care for everyone else first, even at the expense of your own health.”
- Self-care takes practice and systems. It takes a mindset shift. It takes small, consistent actions over time. But it yields big results.
These results are not only for you, but for all those people who you are responsible for. Healthy habits rub off. Self-love is contagious. The love you cultivate for yourself spills over to others and fills them with love, too.
Did I hear a click? Do you believe me now? What if I told you that the tools you need to have your own ah-ha moment are easy to learn. The actions that you have to take for self-care are teachable actions. Not sure where to start? Start here.