When my fiancé and I just started dating we loved to ask one another personality-based questions. Like those goofy little Facebook quizzes “ask your boyfriend this and post the responses” (except just for us).
It was our way of keeping the conversation going and getting to know one another in a fun and interesting way. For example, we might ask one another
- If you were an item in Walmart, what would you be?
- Who would be the five people on your zombie apocalypse team?
- If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
But the question that I realized was actually pretty loaded was one of the common questions of all.
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
At the time, my answer was always the same. I said that I wanted the power to heal others–even if that meant I had to experience their pain. Since, you know, super power science says that you have to have some limitations.
The desire to heal is the plight of the natural giver. We crave and desire to give, give, give to others. We want to take care of them, nurture them, and shower them with love and affection. But, if we’re not careful, we do so at the expense of our own well being.
It’s all too common for us to believe that self sacrifice is the way to protect others. By sacrificing your own heart, health, and soul, we think that we are shielding our loved ones from that very pain. Feel yourself nodding along this is soooo me? Then you’re totally in the right place, my friend.
Self Care Isn’t Selfish
As natural givers, we put so much of our focus and energy on taking care of others. We throw our entire person (and sometimes identity) into making sure everyone around us is taken care of before ourselves.
But as much as we’re taught that taking care of other people is a good quality to have, it’s absolutely not the case if you persistently put yourself at the bottom of your priority list. Why? Your giving nature is only as strong as you are.
That’s right, my friend. Self care isn’t selfish. Neglecting yourself is. When you consistently neglect your needs, you start to decrease your value. You’re making a statement to universe that you and your needs do not matter. And as a result, you can’t give as much to the ones you love.
Because neglecting your needs isn’t just about making small sacrifices here and there. It creates lasting effects. De-prioritizing yourself resonates into all aspects of your life. It means persistent illness and health troubles because you keep thinking oh, I’ll get that checked out sometime. Neglecting you means strained relationships with friends, family, and loved ones because you’re constantly too burnt out to focus on the real reason they’re in your life (you). It means you’re pushing back the thoughts that scare you most because facing your reality is too terrifying to bring to light.
And what does this translate into for the natural giver? Because I know we get so much of our satisfaction and fulfillment in life from giving to others. Neglecting yourself is less time with your kids because you’re constantly in pain from health issues. It’s feeling like your spouse is a roommate more than a partner because you’re not energized enough to work in your relationship, let alone on it. It’s throwing all your dreams and passions into the black hole of depression because your mental health isn’t important enough to be nurtured and cared for.
Self care isn’t just something you should do. It’s something you HAVE to do. Yes, self care is a non-negotiable, my friend. It’s exactly why they say to put your oxygen mask on FIRST before you help others. You can’t even dream of saving someone else if you’re starving for air. And I want you to breathe!
Self care isn’t about being selfish. It’s not about taking you away from the ones you love. Self care is about bringing THE BEST version of yourself to the world. It’s about making sure you’re fueled, energized, and inspired so you can be the best friend, wife, mother, worker, and pure YOU that you can be. And even more, so that you can accomplish all the things you want in life and be who you are. Because I know you have dreams and I want you to make them happen!
Now, if you feel yourself thinking
Wow, this is totally me. But how do I even begin to think about stopping this cycle of self sacrifice in the first place?
I’ve got you covered, friend. The most important step now, is identifying that you need to make a change. And I am so proud of you for taking that step. Because I know it can be so scary! But if you know it’s time for change and a different way of life, there are my top three tips for getting started with self care.
Beginner’s Steps to Self Care: Tips for the Natural Giver
One: Action > Wanting
There are two kinds of people in this world. There’s those that want and those that do. The people who want only get as far as wishing their situation was different. Sure, they want to live a life where they prioritize themselves. But at the end of the day, they don’t take steps to make that happen.
The other type of person, the one like you and me, is the one that does. We’re the go-getters of the world. The ones that value action over desire. The difference between these two types of people is that the wanters want and the doers get. As a do-er, you are totally capable of making this change happen! Self care isn’t just a lifestyle that you should have and must have. It’s a lifestyle that you CAN have! It’s totally within your reach my friend. And I believe in you!
Two: Make Connections + Develop Relationships
Now, experts say that you’re more likely to stick to a weight-loss or exercise routine if you have somebody to do it with you. With a partner, we have someone to share our journey with, experience the same struggles, and keep ourselves accountable. We know that we aren’t alone in our experience. And really, we all crave validation that we aren’t the only ones experiencing life a certain way.
When implementing a lifestyle change, you’re more likely to make it stick if you have other people working through the experience together. In person connection is certainly preferred and more effective (syncing up with a girlfriend you can cheer on and who can cheer on you). But online communities are also a way to connect with people you could never meet (around the world!) and have a designated space that you can choose how much you put into it and how much you get out.
Ultimately, connection makes the journey a human experience and not just a you experience. Knowing you’re not alone makes all the difference when it comes to sticking with a long-term change.
So, it’s time to set that coffee date with your bestie that you’ve been waiting soooo long to set. I know that you think she is absolutely incredible! Because she totally is! But what are the chances that she sees herself the same way? Does she see herself the way that you see her? And, do you see herself with the same admiration that she sees in you? That’s the power of committing to self care with other natural givers. You can use your giving natures to build each other up!
Three: Make a Plan + Collect Strategies
Hey, I am all about gathering strategies, techniques, and methods if I want to learn something new (goes back to that action over wanting mentality). If you have a plan of action to take into the future, not only will you gain a bit of control of your journey, but you’re also making it easier on yourself when it feels like you’re losing direction (cuz, hey, it happens!). You’ve already something set in place!
The ideal type of plan is a rinse and repeat style. It’s something you can do once, get small results, then complete again and again to grow in the ways that you want. These types of plans are especially effective because not only do you repeatedly get results, but you continually gain confidence in your ability to follow through with the strategy (even if the area of learning is terrifying!).
If the idea of plans, action lists, and strategies has you drooling, you’re in good company, my friend! Together, we can skip the learning curve, pass up a few growing pains, and get right to the good stuff of how to practice self care. Oh, and we can do it all in bite-sized lessons on your own schedule. Because I know your time is valuable.
I know how much you deserve to make self care a part of your lifestyle. And I’m pretty sure you’re feeling like it’s darn time YOU got to be at the top of your priority list, too.
Isn’t it time we maximized your self care routine? Isn’t it time you finally got to breathe?
Yes, yes, YES! Say it with me! We can do it together, my beautiful friend!
Are you ready to join me? Are you ready to bring the BEST version of you to the world? Because I know that I sure can’t wait to see her. Let’s do this…