Why Prioritizing Yourself Isn't Selfish

We so often go above and beyond when it comes to other people, but forego our own needs until they get so loud we can't ignore them anymore.  For many of us, if we treated our vehicles with the same philosophy we treat ourselves, we'd end up broken down on the side of the road in need of a tow truck.  Why do we do this?  Because terms like "self-care" are often equated with selfishness or self-indulgence.    

But what if I told you that's not what self-care is at all?  This week's vlog talks about how prioritizing yourself is actually an act of service, no only for yourself, but also for everyone else who depends on you.  And it will help you stay in it for the long haul, rather than ending up a hot mess on the side of the road.  


Of course I maintain my car!

So many of us think that it makes perfect sense to maintain our car. To fill the gas when the gas tank is empty, to check and to change the oil on a regular basis, because we know that at some point our car will burn through it.  And if the check engine light in our car goes on, you better be damn sure that we're going to take it to the mechanic and figure out what's going on before we break down on the side of the road, we need a tow truck, and have to deal with all of that headache.

All of that seems to make perfect sense to most people, even people like myself, who are not particularly car people. It makes perfect sense to maintain that car because it's what we use to get around in and if it's broken down, then we can't get anywhere anymore.  And so we do preventive maintenance for our cars.

Then why don't we maintain ourselves?

However, when it comes to ourselves, we tend to do less of a good job. Self-care has become either a dirty word that we equate with self-indulgence, or a word that is associated with bubble baths and candles and chocolate, which is not at all what self-care really is. If you think of it like basic maintenance for your car, it might seem a little bit less selfish.

Let's say that you have people in your life who depend on you. Maybe it's your kids, maybe it's your spouse, maybe it is co-workers or employees.  Often times, what we will do is push past our own internal warning lights so that we can do something for our kids or do something for our spouse, or get something done for our boss at work.  Whereas if it was our vehicle, we wouldn't do that, but for ourselves, we just blow past the warning lights. We go, "Ah, you know, I'll get to it later," or, "That's just low tire pressure gauge. It's not a big deal."

Our bodies & minds are just like cars

If you think of your body, mind and mental health as a vehicle that you use to drive yourself and other people around in, then you can't do that if it hasn't been properly maintained. You can't take care of your kids, you can't get to work and make money, you can't have a relationship with your spouse, if your car's over there, broken down on the side of the road because you blew past the warning lights.

If you think of it that way, it makes a lot more sense to take care of our own vehicle, as it were, mind and body, by doing that preventive maintenance.   Refuel the gas when we need to. If the car's overheating, taking some time to let the engine cool off so that we can continue to make it the rest of the way up that hill, or whatever it is. That might help us to let go of the idea that prioritizing ourselves is somehow selfish.  It's actually an act of taking care of other people as well, because if we don't take care of this vehicle that is our mind and body, we cannot use it to help be there and show up and do things for ourselves or anybody else.


Learn Basic Maintenance for Your Mind

If you find that prioritizing yourself is still something that makes you cringe a little bit, check out the Stress Management Group info below.   There will be a lot of tips and tricks taught in group for how to take better care of ourselves so that we are able to go for the long haul, more so than if we just kept ignoring all of those warning lights.

Space in group is limited and enrollment is by application only.  Fill out an interest form to apply.

If you’d like to learn more about what individual treatment options for stress look like, visit the Stress Management Counseling page.