Most children are brought up to be kind and respectful of other people. They are taught to consider others’ feelings and help those in need. But when it comes to taking care of themselves, many people lack the ability to put their own needs first.
To some, the concept of self-care is as foreign as the language and customs of far away lands. The idea of putting their own needs first feels somehow wrong, or even selfish.
The good news is that it’s never too late to learn to treat yourself as you do others; to put yourself first in a healthy, energizing way. Here are some ways you can rewire your brain so it becomes increasingly easier to put yourself first, thereby recharging your life.
Learn to Say No
Being a caring and compassionate person is wonderful, but sacrificing yourself by saying “yes” all the time to other people’s needs will deplete your energy. Learning to set boundaries and say no is not only your right, it’s your responsibility. Try to start saying no more often, free of guilt.
Ask for Help
When you’ve taken on the role of helping others, it can feel uncomfortable asking for help when you need it. After all, you’re the one people go to when in need.
The thing to remember is, all of these people who come to you for help feel no shame or discomfort in asking for it. They need help, they ask for it, they get it. Try to do the same. As soon as you release the pressure you’ve put on yourself to handle everything alone, you will feel a tremendous weight lifted.
Get to Know Yourself!
Do you know what makes you tick? What do you like and dislike? People who are wired to neglect their own needs don’t typically know themselves very well. Knowing oneself is seen as a luxury they can’t afford.
Self-love and self-care require you get to know your SELF. Take some time to discover what you enjoy. Once you find what it is that pleases you, commit to doing it more often. Having more pleasure in your life will make you a happier person.
Taking these actions will have a tremendous impact on your life. As you get better and better at putting your needs first, you will feel happier and more empowered. You will know, deep down, that your own needs matter and you are worth the effort.
Some people have a tremendously hard time with these exercises because they have a very low self-esteem. And the longer you have lived with a low self-esteem, the harder it is to make positive changes.
In these instances, seeking the guidance of a trained therapist can be incredibly beneficial. He or she can help you work through any childhood trauma and provide tools to manage any anxiety or depression that often accompanies a low self-esteem.
If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.
Chelsy A. Castro, JD, MA, AM, LCSW