A new movement that’s going on in the self-care world is putting yourself first. Which on the surface sounds pretty good right? No more sacrificing our happiness for someone else. No more working ourselves to the bone. No more doing things we don’t like. The self-care, self first theology has gained a lot of traction… But is it really self-care?
Why “self-first” doesn’t bring happiness
When I first heard the idea that self-care meant putting myself first I felt liberated! I had someone else telling me that I’d been neglecting myself and that’s why I wasn’t happy – and the only thing I needed to do to fix it was to start putting myself first. This concept felt so good thinking about that I couldn’t wait to start. But I kept putting it off. And putting it off… And as I thought about it and watched other people do it, I began to see the holes in it.
You see, “putting yourself first” comes in many disguises. Some of which are, “Do you” or “Stay true to yourself” or “Do what makes YOU happy”.
The truth about putting yourself first
It does feel VERY good to put ourselves first, and sometimes we actually need to. . . but most of the time putting yourself first just means putting those we love second. And when we refuse to make sacrifices on behalf of others, we are also walling ourselves off from the people we love. Think about it.
When was the last time someone went out of their way for you? And would you have done just about anything for them afterwards? Of course you would have. Now when was the last time you needed help and they refused? Yea. They were doing what made them happy at the expense of your happiness.
So all of this self-care talk about putting ourselves first and taking care of number one sounds good… But it doesn’t bring lasting happiness. Just as a manicure or sweet smelling candles don’t. Our culture likes looking at things on the surface, but if we want to get serious about self-care we need to be taking it a step further. We need to be going deeper. And that means doing things that will bring us LASTING happiness and wellbeing… And a large part of that actually means putting others first.
Putting the IMPORTANT things first
So instead of saying that we need to put ourselves first, take care of ourselves first, etc. how about we start saying “Let’s put what’s most important first”.
Sometimes what’s most important will be for mom to get some quiet time and let dad take the kids. Sometimes what’s important will be sacrificing our immediate happiness in order to raise our kids, or help our husband. And that’s ok! If we are truly caring for ourselves, then delaying our happiness will be ok. We can do what’s best for our family, or our friends, without it being the end of the world.
On the other hand, part of self-care is realizing when you are spent and need to recharge. Being able to recognizing that and making it a priority is equally important. Sometimes your wellbeing will need to be priority number one. Other times, your kid’s will be.
Finding a good balance
So the easy answer of “yourself first” isn’t actually the answer. So what is?
I think the first step is figuring out exactly what it is you’re needing right now. Is it a relief from depression? Anxiety? Are you stressed or feeling overwhelmed? Personally as a mom of two girls under 4 years old, the answer is all of the above. I feel like I need to work on just about every aspect of my life. My patience, my self-control, my sex life with my husband, my ability to potty train… Just thinking about it makes me feel overwhelmed!
If you’re like me and want to work on it all, I’d suggest trying trying out our 30 Day Self-Care Challenge. It consists of 15 self-care tactics that take 15 minutes or less and they are actually backed by science! You won’t find challenges like “take a bubble bath” on here. You’ll get challenges that actually help take your journey to a deeper level (not that a bubble bath isn’t nice!). These challenges include things such as awareness, facing down perfectionism, taking action, and about 12 others!
So if you’re ready to take things to the next step and want a little help, click on the button below and start your journey to a more fulfilled and balanced life. 🙂