I’ve been analyzing myself a lot lately, in an attempt to figure out my own motivation for things. As a counselor, I think it’s important we all try to do that from time to time. I spend much of my day trying to figure out what other people’s motivations are, it’s certainly a different feeling to turn the spyglass inward and see what you find. I’ve uncovered some facts about myself that I find interesting.
One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m motivated by my relationships…friends, co-workers, romantic partners, siblings…all of them. Much of my own behavior is in direct response to others, either reacting to them, trying to change my life in ways that allow me to spend more time with certain people, or even arranging my time in ways that help me avoid other individuals (I don’t have many of those people, don’t worry!). It’s not inherently a negative way to live, but it can easily get out of control for someone like me, who can vacillate between self imposed isolation and over socialization. It’s a fine balancing act, playing out in my head as “I know I should take a night off, stay home, and rest…” but quickly rubber banding back to “But I REALLY need to spend time with this person!” This is why looking inward is so important to my own self-care. If I don’t look regularly and check in with myself, I might not recognize signs of self neglect until it was to late. Maybe I’d be exhausted and frustrated, or worse, blame the other people in my life for making demands on my time.
I’ll admit, I’m not always the best at self care but it definitely makes it onto my ‘to-do’ list. More often, self care doesn’t make it onto many adult’s lists at all, which is what I see much more regularly with therapy clients than I’d prefer. I hear many adults say “My children always come first.”, which is a fine concept…I’m not going to argue that children are time consuming and need LOTS of attention, often at the expense of adult’s fun and pleasure activities. However, self care isn’t selfish and putting your needs before others. It doesn’t mean that if you stop neglecting yourself, someone else will get neglected. It’s about finding the balance in your life that keeps you mentally, physically, and spiritually healthy. If you are paying attention to the little things, the big things won’t stress you out as much. You can take care of others much better if you are taking care of yourself.
My words of encouragement to everyone reading this is that you can do things for yourself without being selfish, without neglecting anyone else, and I PROMISE there is enough time in the day to do SOMETHING good for yourself! Please don’t think I’m talking about grand gestures like spa days. Those are nice, but again, self care is about balance. Self care is going to mean different things to everyone, and can be as small as making sure you drink more water during the day, or it can be as big as using up your vacation time at work because you need it. Take some time, make a list, start doing the things that help your state of mind. You won’t regret it.