Just to be clear from the start and to avoid potential arguments, everything I’m writing about here does of course apply to men, but today I’m focussing on the women, particularly because we tend to be the caregivers in many situations.
If you’re a loving Wife, Partner, Auntie, friend, basically anyone who spends a considerable amount of their time looking after another and who’s driven by making others around you happy, it’s likely that at times you’ve done so at your expense. When I say expense, it could be in the form of waiting a bit longer or later for said person to arrive or leave which affects any plans you may have had. Or you may make plans that you then cancel in order to accommodate a last minute or apparently urgent request for help and support from your nearest and dearest. You might then insist that it’s not a problem when secretly you’re a bit disappointed that you’ll have less time to do whatever it is you had in mind.
Are you calculating in your mind how many times you’ve done that in the last few days, weeks, or months? Well, there’s the reason why you should stop doing things for other people.
I don’t mean that you should never do things for other people because that would make you a selfish and self-centred person, which you’re evidently not if you’ve identified with either of the above scenarios. Actually, you’re a generous and kind hearted person who often accommodates others, although it could be argued that maybe you’re a bit too generous.
Now follow what I’m about to say closely. I truly believe that in order to be the best people we can be and to live a happy and fulfilled life, we should all treat ourselves as we would want to be treated and how we probably already treat others.
Why would you treat someone else better than you treat yourself? That makes no sense but it happens all the time and I’m certainly guilty at times.
For example, when it comes to food, especially at the dinner table, if there’s one piece of that great tasting piece of food left, I’ll ask if anyone else wants it. Should someone respond, I’ll hand it over. Admittedly, it’s a lot easier if one of the children have answered but I’ll still hand it over with as much love and care as I can muster if my husband wants it. All the while, I’m thinking to myself, I should have distracted them by dropping something or by spotting an imaginary spider nearby. But I don’t and I wouldn’t because that’s not the motherly/wifey (wifely?) thing to do or so I’m led to believe. I find that I’m doing this constantly and it’s crept into other areas of my life usually in the name of good manners. I’ll offer things to family members or maybe even colleagues that I really, really want.
I see other women putting themselves last, especially if there’s a little person around who always seems to have uncanny timing for reaching for the last biscuit/cupcake/sweet just when you thought it was all yours. Of course we should give our children what we can within reason, but it’s also OK to finish things sometimes.
When I thought about it, there are lots of other things that I see myself and others doing that we really should think twice about. In the spirit of keeping things as brief as possible, here are the five most important things I think you should stop doing for other people. Well at least until you start doing them for yourself.
- STOP complimenting others UNTIL you can accept a compliment and appreciate something about yourself. Yes, I said it. It’s not narcissistic unless you do it constantly, all day, every day. We all need to love ourselves, so let’s start with finding things to compliment and appreciate about ourselves.If you need some help or inspiration look for the post with a picture of a mirror on the Me, Myself & I Facebook and Instagram pages. As it happens, that leads me nicely onto number two.
- STOP spending your time liking and commenting on other people’s social media feeds where they’ve shared their life’s hopes and dreams UNTIL you first take time to consider yours. It’s so easy to be consumed by what’s happening around us that we don’t leave much time to think about what’s going on with us. It’s good to think about and capture your hopes and dreams somewhere that you can be reminded of them regularly.
Research shows that you’re twice as likely to achieve your goals if they’re written down, so please, please, please do this before you tell the world or share them on social media.
- STOP spending money on nonessential items or anyone else UNTIL you’ve set yourself a Me budget. A Me Budget is for you to spend on yourself anyway you want without any guilt, just as you’d spend on your children, husband, friend or any other person you care about. We can be very good or bad at budgeting for life’s necessities such as bills and other adult things, forgetting that we’ve got a responsibility to ourselves. Your budget could be £25, £50, £250 whatever it is, work it out and make sure you have the money to spoil yourself every month.
Make sure that you spend what you’ve set aside every month and really enjoy the feeling of spending on yourself. As well as whatever you’ve bought. You should only save up to treat yourself in special circumstances. Why? Because the point of having a Me budget to blow on yourself each month is to remind you that you’re a priority. By saving up and postponing your treat, in my mind is almost the same as de-prioritising yourself although I realise that there will be times when it’s worth it and just as enjoyable. By the way, in case you’re worried that you might not be much of a shopper like me, your Me Budget doesn’t have to be spent on material stuff, it could be spent on an experience, books or maybe music, whatever makes you feel great.
- STOP helping others live or building their dreams UNTIL you’ve thought about how you’re going to make yours a reality. Many of us need to work, but it’s also good to remember that what you want to do is just as important in life as the bills. There’s a quote which provides a great reminder; If you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to build theirs. So, take some time to dream, what do you want to be, do and have?
- Finally, STOP nurturing others UNTIL you’ve nurtured yourself. This is of course with the exception of children, especially as you don’t want to take your eyes off that ball as it most certainly will come back to haunt you.
Nurturing yourself over others is important because you can only give your best when you’re feeling your best, so make sure to take time to be inspired and recharged. Do whatever you love doing so that you’re ready for life and to give everyone around you your full attention. If you need a gentle reminder to nurture yourself, why not grow a small plant in the house. It will look after you as you look after it each day.
I hope by now you’ll agree with me that there are at least five things you should stop doing for others until you start doing them for yourself. I totally agree with Audre Lourde when she said, ‘Self care is not an indulgence, it’s an act of self-preservation.’
Do let me know how you get on. If it’s a lot to take in, start by trying one thing a day or a week. Make a new start today by stopping.