You know what I am talking about. We have all felt it when we REALLY want to do something for ourselves, or worse yet.... need to do something for ourselves.
Insert that pesky inner guilty voice... the one that tells us we are selfish for thinking about doing that thing. The one that convinces us it can wait, and we should do all the other things first. Get everything else done and take care of everyone else before looking after you.
This is an extremely common thought process for women. Part of this is due to the social conditioning about a woman's role in society - they are the caretakers, the homemakers, the children raisers, and the task doers. This has been ingrained in cultures and society for generations - no wonder this thought cycle is so hard to break free from. It is all we have ever known to be true.
We are shifting. We are evolving.
And we now need to work harder than ever to change this narrative as we evolve in our own #selfcarerevolutions.
Self-care guilt shows up in many ways. You might find yourself apologizing when you DO do things for yourself or take care of your needs.
You might find yourself putting it off until EVERYONE else is taken care of first.
You might also believe that you need to accomplish other productive things before getting to yourself.
I am here to reassure you, that this is NOT the case, and none of that is true.
It is time to stop apologizing. It is time to put yourself first and then care for your loved ones. It is time to believe that you do not need to earn self-care and that it is your right, not a reward.
As the saying goes, fill your own cup first. In other words, refuel your own mental, physical, emotional & spiritual energy FIRST.
Let's break down the reasons WHY we experience self-care guilt and what you can do about it.
*warning*. major truth bombs 💣 & no BS explanations 💩 are ahead.
Reason #1: Your definition of self-care is simply incorrect
This is a big reason why people feel guilty about self-care. When a lot of people are asked to define self-care, very obvious and surface-level things are typically top of mind (sleeping in, bubble baths & Friday night wine). Yes, we need to get enough sleep, and bubble baths are awesome but, this belief that all self-care is this surface level is damaging, which explains why guilt would follow it. Self-care is not just about *feeling* good or drowning your feelings away at the bottom of your wine glass. When we think of these indulgences like bubble baths and sleeping in for shits and giggles as self-care, we are robbing ourselves of the belief that self-care is a right, and instead are left to feel that we are actually unnecessarily & selfishly indulging ourselves.
Feeling good is a natural consequence of self-care, which is fantastic, but it is truly about our physical, emotional, and mental well-being and self-preservation. This can stem from practices that involve bath & body care, skincare, and other beauty and wellness rituals, but we can't shy away from the real, raw & tough as shit things in life that we also need to deal with in order maintain a healthy body, mind & soul.
What are some of those things? Well....
- creating personal & professional boundaries
- saying no
- confronting our real problems
- dealing with our emotions and feelings
- asking for help when you need it
...and so many more.
When we also think our self-care as our self-preservation, we KNOW deep down that it is not selfish at all. It is a necessity. This shift in perspective begins to shed our guilt.
For this reason, keep on doing those other things because you WANT to, and they are your way of winding down at the end of a long day or week. Have that bath, dig out your fanciest face mask, and celebrate Friday night.
BUT when it comes to the BIG things we truly need in life, look at them as tools be a healthier, happier human - which is the furthest thing from selfish and unnecessary, and are the absolute essence of self-care in its rawest form.
Changing our thought patterns takes time - try journaling, using affirmation decks and creating your own intention setting rituals to help you in your journey.
Reason #2: Time
We (incorrectly) equate doing things for ourselves as taking up much-needed time in our days. Here is the thing about time - we all have the same amount of time in a day, and we have ZERO control over that. The one thing we DO have control over is how we use it. So if you feel like practicing self-care is taking much-needed time away from your day, I encourage you to look at the time in your day and how you are using it.
EEK. Sorry not sorry for the bluntness. 🙈
If you feel like you don't have enough time in the day to spend 30 minutes on yourself (whether it's for moving your body, journaling, or taking care of some hard things), I encourage you to spend one full day logging the time you spend doing EVERYTHING. Right down to the minute on how much time you spend scrolling social media, or watching mindless TV.
Hold up - no, I am not saying don't ever do these things (trust me, I ALWAYS have a TV series on the go), but the point here is to show you that you DO have time, you just need to make it. Yes, you need to find the time to do these things, and stop blaming time in itself as the reason we don't.
We often don't realize how much time we spend on certain mindless things during the day unless we track them. Time is a major complaint about a lot of people, we always hear people say "well there just aren't enough hours in a day", but I need to gently remind you that there is no point in complaining about something we have no control over. There will always be 24 hrs in a day. Always has been. Always will be.
So I ask you...
How are you using it? Where can you cut back on XYZ to allow room for YOU time?
You are responsible for your self-care, and making time for it is a part of that responsibility.
When you take ownership of it, the guilt fades away. Your time is a commodity, so treat it as such. When we place blame and use excuses like time for not taking care of ourselves, we are more likely to experience guilt because we are still using external factors as validation. That inner ownership leaves no room for those negative emotions and naturally evokes more positive and empowering ones.
Reason #3: There is an underlying attachment to our worth being tied to achievement and/or productivity
We have been conditioned to believe that success and worth are achievement or productivity-based, which gives us a very tangible and measurable thing to attach to it.
When it comes to self-care, how are you supposed to measure the happiness, fulfillment, and joy you experience when you are living aligned, intentional, and authentically? 🤔
Exactly. You can't. So we need to work to reframe this attachment. There is no award, paycheque, or check box to tick off when you experience these things because self-care is a way of living your life, not a task to get checked off. If we think of our worth as measurement against something, when it comes to self-care we are always chasing something that isn't available, because we are so focused on the output of what we are doing - so we keep working harder and doing more which just leads to frustration and...you got it... burnout. This narrow-minded view keeps us from being aware of what we need and doesn't permit us to listen to ourselves because we are looking for physical and tangible signs that 'we did it' or 'we earned it by getting EVERYTHING else done first.
But.... self-care isn't a destination. It is a continuous journey.
You need to focus on the input, rather than the output and recognize that your success & worth in the self-care department is only something you can feel and comes completely from within, it is not something to prove or put on your mantle. Your output is fluid, and the results should never be tied to self-care (that is where goals and other aspirations belong, which is a completely different topic for another day).
When you decide that your self-care is something you need to invest in, and is something you respect yourself enough to work on first, there is nothing to feel guilty about because you are not attaching it to an outcome or achievement. You are deciding your self-worth is an inside job and one you take very seriously, before focusing on your output into the world.
So what can we do to start changing our story around guilt?
- Continue working on your perspective of self-care. Just because you read all this information in an article, documentary, book, or elsewhere for that matter on what self-care really means, doesn't mean your view of it will change overnight. Gently remind yourself each time you are working on yourself and your self-care, what it means and why you are doing it. You might need to tell yourself this the next 100 times you do it. It gets easier, and this is how we change our story, by continuously telling ourselves the new story we want to experience.
Keep being curious and practice self-discovery. I cannot stress how important this is. It is impossible to identify the right things you need to do, without doing the work to figure that out. This could change daily and will evolve as you evolve and go through your day-to-day. No one else but you can assess and determine what you need, so taking the time to look inward and listen to your body, mind & soul will guide you in staying aligned and authentic to your TRUE needs. This keen level of awareness alone fends off guilt, as we become more empowered to follow our own knowing. (If you have not read Untamed yet but Glennon Doyle...I highly recommend it!)
- It is okay to identify what works and what doesn't. Not everyone likes meal planning. Not everyone wants to get outside into nature to connect with themselves. Not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep, you might need more or less. When it comes to self-care, not everything is right for everyone. You need to start by trying - that is the only way to know what works and what doesn't. And I don't mean try something once and decide it's for you or not - if you are going to try meditating... do it for 30 days in a row to truly gauge what differences it makes for you. You need to give things a real shot before determining if they are for you. When you DO discover what works for you and can experience and reap the rewards for your efforts, you won't feel guilty for continuing to incorporate them into your life.
- Create a support system. I know I have mentioned this a few times, but taking responsibility for your well-being and self-care is not synonymous with doing it alone. Find your tribe. Your circle might shift and get smaller, but this is typically what happens when you start looking more inward for guidance than outward. Find like-minded people, and join communities that stem from the same beliefs and values as you. Your support system can be your family and closest friends as well, but it can go way beyond that, too. 🖤
Take care + talk soon,