3 Myths about Self-Care (and #2 might surprise you)

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How do you practice self-care? You would be shocked how many times I’ve heard these two responses in therapy:

  1. “What’s that?”

  2. “Not very often. It feels selfish.”  

Thankfully, if you’ve had these same reflexes, you’re not alone. There’s no shame. This just means we’re a little confused about our most important relationship: the one with ourself.  

And I know what you’re thinking, “Spare me. Sounds so indulgent.”  

However, do you expect your car to run on empty?  Do you drive it around for months on end without gas or an oil change?  I’m not even a car person, and have been scared into submission to pay attention when that glorious red light signals E, nudging me to the nearest Twice Daily.   

My hunch is, you probably want to maintain your car so it doesn’t fall apart. 

Let’s take it a step further.  Do you expect your nearest and dearest relationships or marriage to thrive without an occasional phone call, text or date night reminding them of your love and appreciation?  

Again, I’m guessing you’re pretty good at showing others you care.  In fact, you’re probably great at it.  Why?  Because it’s socially accepted—even encouraged—and there’s an immediate reward on the other side.  When we show intrinsic kindness to others, we are often appreciated back in some way.  

So why do we neglect the one relationship that is the most constant and powerful of all? Make no mistake, I’m a person of deep faith who believes in and loves God.  Yet, even John Calvin said, “Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God.”  

If we practice self-care and learn how to relate to ourselves in a kind and compassionate way, we are then primed to love the world in a more authentic, generous way. 

If you’re still on the fence, I want to bust a few myths you might buy into that hold you back from practicing some necessary self-care:

1) Self-care equals selfishness:

This is a biggie.  However, self-care is actually highly responsible, adult behavior.  It’s learning to take care of yourself instead of obsessively tending to other people.  In doing so, we learn that part of our job here on earth is to be responsible for our needs and desires instead of undermining them for the sake of others.  Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This suggests without knowing how to love myself, I don’t know how to love my neighbor.  

Right before take-off, the flight attendant does her thing and gives you instruction for safe travel.  The part that always sticks with me is when she says to first put on your oxygen mask before that of others, even small children.  We love others better when we start with ourselves.  

2) Self-care is takes too much time and effort

“I don’t have time for self-care.” I hear this a lot from mothers.  I quickly retort, “Well do you have time for a mental or physical breakdown?”  The answer is always no. Self-care is made up of a loving mindset that allows for tiny, two-degree shifts in behavior towards yourself.  I’m not asking you to soak in a bubble bath all day, I’m asking you to start regarding yourself with kindness.  Start listening to your needs and take tiny actions to meet them.  

3) I don’t deserve self-care
Dear one, if this is your unconscious go-to belief, you may be carrying a heavy, hurtful burden.  I know from experience there is another way.  Perhaps the first place to start is a trusted friend or therapist to unpack past experiences or relationships that led you to believe this.  Your birthright as a human being is to have needs and desires and get them met.  God didn’t leave you out of this equation.  You’re invited into the feast of wholeness just because you’re here and you’re you.  Please reach out if you feel alone in this space.  

Love & Gratitude,

P.S.  Interested in learning more about yourself, self-care, and the Enneagram?  I’ve got an exciting opportunity for you if so!  Click here for more info.