Do you take care of everyone else's feelings, needs, wants, and expectations before your own? Does self-care come last on your list?

I was talking with a client yesterday and I was surprised--no, shocked--by her reaction to the idea of self-care. She has a significant, new injury that has lots of potential for complications and self-care needs to be top of her list.

What shocked and surprised me? She said: "I was screaming in pain last night, but it's not hurting now. I don't want to waste the time of medical professionals." Wow! Her health concerns would "waste the time of medical professions?" That is nothing like good self-care.

I screamed inside just hearing that. She's a mother with active children, one only three years old. What if she didn't pay attention to her pain, missed an important symptom, and ended up hospitalized...or worse? Didn't she matter?

When I put it that way, she finally agreed to go to the clinic right away. Up until that conversation, she was following an old pattern that she learned in childhood: she didn't count. She didn't matter. If it was for the kids, great. If it was for her, not so much.

Where are you in demonstrating to yourself that you matter? Or, that you don't?


Your children will often fail to do what you tell them to, but they seldom fail to do what you do. You can knock yourself out making them feel good about themselves, but if you don't feel good about yourself, they are more likely to catch that. Same in what you do for yourself. When you carve out time for yourself, you teach your children to do the same. When you create quiet time, they learn it's important.

There is only one of you, unique, interesting, valuable, and worthwhile. If you took a photo of yourself in a beautiful landscape, printed it, and erased yourself from it, there would be hole, a void. You deserve to take up space and draw breath.  You're important. You matter. Treat yourself that way by giving yourself the loving self-care you deserve.

5 Ways To Show Yourself You Matter:

  1.  Speak kindly of yourself. You're listening!
    We tend to be hard on ourselves. We have expectations of ourselves that we would never dream of having of others. Think about it. Don't you jump in when someone is putting themselves down or berating themselves? Yes, you do, yet you do it to yourself. Stop!  Don't say anything about yourself that you do not want to be true This is real self-care!
  2. Spend time with yourself...alone.
    Our society strongly suggests "Be more. Do more. Have more. Repeat."  I suggest that you stop at "Be more." Be more in touch with what you are thinking, feelings, needing and wanting. Take the time to just sit. When we wrote Soul Solitude: Taking Time For Our Souls To Catch UpCharles Andersen and I invited you to escape the drama of living up to the expectations of others. Take three minutes a couple times a day to simply sit, fall silent, and listen to what's going on within you.
  3. Express yourself clearly.
    You deserve to take up space and draw breath. It's OK to have thoughts, feelings, opinions, and requests. You can express them freely with one big caveat: speak only of yourself. You do not know what is going on inside another person, nor do you know why they do or say what they do. You may think you do, but you don't. You can't. There is a big difference in both expression and result between "I feel disrespected" and "You are disrespecting me." That person may have no intention at all of being disrespectful. Your experience of their behavior or words is all you can talk about.
  4. Clarify and maintain your boundaries.
    Not so easy for many people because they want to please others more than they care about themselves. Know what's all right with you, and what isn't. No one knows that until you tell them. And, do it as I suggested in #3. It's about you, what you want and need. Say nothing about them. Prime self-care!
  5. Consciously, purposefully, create balance in your life.
    In Soul Solitude, we talk about the nine arenas of life. Each one is important and balancing them is essential.  Often, focusing on work, family, and staying upright seems like a full-time job. A few of them you may never have thought of. Yes, it's a lot to pay attention to, however, not paying attention to these nine arenas comes at a big cost to your health, energy, strength, relationships, and well-being. Those are priceless! 

Never expect someone else to demonstrate that you matter if you are not willing to do that for yourself. Why? Because you will never really believe it until you give that gift to yourself. Start now with loving, daily self-care.

It's good to get reminders of how to have loving, compassionate and mutual relationships. Get that for yourself each week. You can receive my Vital Tips For Relationships each week, along with the complimentary copy of the first chapter of my book, Kaizen For Couples: Smart Steps to Save, Sustain & Strengthen Your Relationships, HERE

© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
The Relationship Help Doctor

Disclaimer: All advice, insights and suggestions made here are not to be construed as psychological or legal advice. Any actions you undertake as a result of reading any article, book, video, ebook or blog post from Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, are entirely your own. Having worked with individuals and couples for more than twenty-five years, she offers her insights and opinions for your consideration only.


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