Ask Cookie: Why Do I Take Care of Everyone But Me?

Dear Cookie,

taking care of othersI guess my story will sound typical to you; I have a good relationship with my husband, two great kids, and I actually like my job. So if everything is as rosy as it sounds, why am I carrying an extra 35 pounds on my body?

I put in overtime at work whenever I’m asked, help take my mother-in-law to the doctor as needed, and am always baking cookies for some school event. But ask me to find time to prepare good lunches to take to work, and guess what? I don’t have time.

When I try to exercise, something always comes up that seems more important, so I end up blowing off my workout.

I try to shop for healthy food so I have some good options to cook for dinner, but I end up getting junky snacks for my kids, and then eating them myself. Pizza is on my table too many nights a week!

I totally get that my health and happiness are important.

So why can’t I make myself a priority, and actually do these things?
Charlotte T.

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Dear Charlotte,

Well, if misery loves company, you’ve got it! So many of us are at the bottom of our own ‘to do’ lists, it’s not funny.

And a lot of us are not even on our ‘to do’ list!

First, this problem is so common because we are good people.

That’s right!

We’re raised as women to help and be selfless from a young age. We were called ‘selfish’ if we put ourselves first.

So as adults, it’s hard to disbelieve the propaganda we have been fed and suddenly start behaving in a way that may be smart, but it’s SO uncomfortable!

I’m talking about putting yourself first.

First.

As in making sure that your basic needs are met.

Sleep.

Good food.

Rest.

Some alone time.

If you don’t get these things, you’ll feel frustrated and depleted.

And the people you are so generously giving bits and pieces of yourself to… they wouldn’t want what you offer if they knew the price you paid.

And for those who know what it costs you to ignore yourself, and don’t care… do you really want to be doing a lot for those people anyway?

Start small.

First make peace with the fact that you have needs.

And the more you take care of them, the more you will have available to give to other.

Now choose something small to start with.

Like getting enough sleep.

Or anything you choose.

And brainstorm what would have to happen for you to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

How can you make that happen?

Does anything have to happen before that?

Keep going until you have reached your true first step.

Then open your calendar and pick a date to start.

No guilt.

Think of your needs, your true needs, as your ‘non-negotiable needs’.

No matter what.

Try it for one week and see how different you feel.

Brainstorm any challenges that come up.

And go back to the drawing board as often as you need to.

Don’t give up.

Because when you have built this foundation of self-care, of self-regard, you will feel so much more like giving and doing for others. You’ll have built up a reserve to draw from.

Let me know how it goes.

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