Five rewards for making self-care a priority
Perhaps you have been hearing how important self-care is and how you must make yourself a priority. Friends and loved ones may be urging you to make more time for yourself and to stop putting yourself last. Maybe you have read social media posts or an article or two reminding you that self-care is essential to your own fulfillment and joy. The message is out there, but actually committing to self-care may be another story. As a Solo Mom, it can feel impossible and selfish to even think about putting yourself first and making self-care your highest priority. Maybe one day you will have time for that, but now, not so much. After all, you have so many other more important things that need your attention. Or do you?
What if I were to tell you that nothing is more important than self-care and that in order to thrive, and allow your kids to thrive, you need to make yourself the highest priority? What if I told you that the most selfless decision you could ever make in your life is the decision to be selfish?
For many years, I lived according to the unwritten rule that love meant sacrificing yourself for others and putting those you love first. I became so skilled at it I would anticipate other people’s needs and adjust my own feelings and behaviors accordingly. Making others feel happy and at peace was my utmost priority. I put my own needs aside and convinced myself that was what it meant to love and the way those around me would know how much I loved them. And for a while, it felt good. I was proud of myself for being so giving and wore my selflessness like a badge of honor.
Until it didn’t feel so good anymore. Little by little, my resentment grew. I would get mad at the people I loved for not noticing and appreciating my self-sacrifice and frustrated with others for not giving of themselves to me in the same way. I felt depleted and empty as I watched my relationships fracture and eventually fall apart.
And then someone I love deeply gave me some tough love and told me to stop trying to be a martyr, reminding me that the universe wouldn’t be giving me any extra bonus points for doing so. She helped me see that I was making myself miserable and, in turn, making it impossible for my loved ones to feel connected to me. Wow. With that one sentence, as difficult as it was to hear, she forced me to see how I was perceived and how I needed to change.
One of the biggest changes I made was to make myself a priority and commit to my self-care. Words can’t describe how awkward and selfish that felt for me at first. It required me to be patient and kind to myself, and persistent; however, after a while, I noticed things shifting internally and externally. My heart opened up, and I was connecting and interacting with people in a deeper way. Putting myself first was the most transformative decision I ever made, and choosing to be selfish was the most selfless thing I had ever done.
How the choice to be selfish can change your life
1. What used to feel like sacrifice will now feel like gifting. It’s true that for those we love, we make them and their happiness a priority in our life. Sometimes that involves putting their feelings first or doing something solely for their pleasure. When you make self-care your number-one priority, however, doing those things for others no longer feels like a sacrifice that depletes you; instead it feels like a gift being birthed from the excess of love you have created within yourself.
2. There is more of you to give. As you practice self-care consistently, you notice your capability and energy increase exponentially. Learning to tune into your own feelings, meet your own needs, and take actions that bring you joy quite simply are uplifting and feel good. Suddenly, a well within you that felt depleted is overflowing and you feel like there is so much more of you to give. An abundance of energy and possibility open up and expand your world.
3. A current of joy replaces resentments and other heavy energies. You know the feeling of having given too much, that exhaustion that sets in and the resentment that builds up. It feels heavy and icky and prevents you from feeling joy. When you begin to fulfill your own needs, you are able to connect with that inner source of joy and create happiness from the inside out. Joy becomes a free-flowing current that exists throughout your life, no matter the circumstances you face.
4. You are able to see opportunity where you formerly saw problems. It all comes down to mindset. When you are taking care of yourself and feeling the fullness of life, your ability to see possibilities expands and problems fade into the distance. It isn’t that problems go away; rather, you are able to see them as opportunities for growth and eagerly accept the challenge they offer. This new perspective results in an excitement about the life you are choosing to live.
5. Your relationships fill with ease and deepen with connection. Let’s face it, when you feel joy within yourself, you extend happiness to others. Anger, resentment, and depletion are replaced with contentment and fulfillment, enabling you to connect with others at a deeper level. Those negative emotions no longer get in the way and cause unnecessary friction with those you love.
Making the choice to be selfish may at first feel awkward, even impossible, but consistently implementing self-care practices will change your life. I know that as a busy Solo Mom, it can seem like there is no time to tend to yourself. It requires planning and some creativity, but it is possible. It really comes down to one question and one choice: Are you willing to be selfish?
Jennifer Butler is a writer and transformation coach, currently working as a community leader for DivorceForce. Beyond an extensive education, Jennifer also went through a life transformation as a result of her own divorce and has dedicated her work to supporting others. You can connect with Jennifer at JennJoy Coaching and on Instagram.