Self-Care Does NOT Always Mean Doing What You Want

The Red Kangaroo is the largest macropod and i...

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Self-Care Tip #132 – Remember, you are your own friend.

So today up up up like a ghoul that wouldn’t die, came this confusion over self-care v. selfish-care.  Somehow, intuitive, or what, we see that word “self” and throw up our hands.  There always seems to be that guy, or it could be that girl, let’s call her Terri, who acts like a two-year old, who can’t think about anyone but herself and does what she wants.  She is toxic to her family and throws her perceived needs in their face faster than they can turn their heads.  That’s not good for them or for her.  That’s not friendly.

Self-care may or may not be doing what we want, Terri.  If we are fortunate enough to have it be what we want, great.  If not, the end goal is still the same, and still great.  It is friendly to us.  Self-care does just that, cares for us responsibly.  We don’t need a mother or a police officer or the government to strong-arm us to do it, because we WANT to take care of ourselves.

Self-care may or may not be doing what is consistent with our temperament.  Achilles taught us that.  The grazer may never want to get in the barn, but in the end, find herself at the jaws of a wolf.  The barn animal may never want to graze and, well, you get it… fill up the barn with poop and such.  It’s just not good.


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Let’s use sleep as an example.  Just as a generalization, grazers tend to enjoy the late hours.

I don’t get any time to play if I don’t stay up and that’s not good for me.  If I plan my play, it loses spontaneity and then it’s not play any more.

You don’t have to be a grazer to think this sounds delightful.  But here’s the thing about this.  If we don’t get our deep sleep, our sleep hours, do sleep hygiene, in short – if we don’t sleep well enough and long enough we don’t heal.  We don’t replenish our hormones and neurotransmitters which predisposes us to mental and physical illnesses and decreases our ability to respond to psychotropic medication.

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I’ve seen regular, restorative sleep bring someone from a place of mental decline to no longer needing psychotropic medication.  Everything works better with sleep.

Ah today I drift some.  Point being, doing what we want is not the same as being friendly to ourselves.  It can be a VERY different thing, or not.

Questions:  How have you found that self-care has been what you wanted to do, or what you didn’t want to do?  How did you overcome those barriers to getting friendly with yourself?  Please tell me your story.

23 thoughts on “Self-Care Does NOT Always Mean Doing What You Want

  1. I personally don’t do any of the things that are good for me, other than take my meds. I don’t exercise or eat well. I have a panic attack just getting in the shower, or leaving the bedroom. So I just accept my limitations, sleep when I fall a sleep, wake up when I wake up. For those who can do better than me, more power to them. Keep going, and count your blessings. :-}

    • U r not alone w these abilities …or limitations, however u want to say it :). However u r not talking about selfish care I think, unless im missing something? Let us know what u think or progresses in thought…

      • Some times I do feel selfish that I do whatever I want as long as I don’t have to leave my apt. I can’t work because of disability, I shop for groceries once a month, and I get to watch TV, blog, use my computer all day long. And then I think I can’t help it, so I don’t fight it too much. All is well with the World. Hugs 🙂

  2. When I don’t do what is needed for my self-care it is usually because I am giving in to acedia. It takes work to stay out of that pit and I can be lazy.

    So for me self-care is often not doing what I want to do, which is nothing, and doing something—anything to get moving. Sometimes it takes just a little step, going for a walk, sometimes it takes a harder step, asking for help.

  3. True self care, I think, means not always being able to do what I want. But that doesn’t always work. I wonder how self care equates with will power? Is self care will power? I’m thinking it might be. Nuts, the one little thing I am lacking.

  4. In the context of this post, doing what I want – staying up until the next post is up (often late at night here on the east coast) is what I used to consider self-care – because I was responding to Friendtoyourself blog questions. I know now that I can’t do that. That’s not self-care. It’s selfish because it’s caring for me when I should take better care by getting the sleep I need and doing the blog part of self-care in the morning. Hard to do after 9 weeks out there, but I’m trying.

  5. i think myself i wanted to do self care and that is why it works a bit like when you are at school if you want to do a subject you will do well as aposed to a subject that you dont want to do and you dont do well and i had never really thought of self care not a subject i had came across i think you get so use to been looked after

  6. I spent the first 30 + years of my life taking care of alcoholics- first my parents, then two husbands, then babies. Parents and husbands did not take care of me, and who did not treat me well. An example- my father screaming at me at age 8 because I had gotten sick in the car and had ruined the upholstery.
    I am 43 now and try to take good care of myself all the time but get confused about self care. What is best for me? I think that not being taken care of as a child, young wife or mother and always taking care of others (I had to take care of my mentally ill mother when she went to bed for days) has put me at a great disadvantage for knowing what self care is.
    I remember at the age of 29, I had an epiphany about not wanting to take care of others anymore. I’d been working as a nurses aide in my twenties, did nothing but work, clean the house and walk on eggshells around my angry abusive husband. Every single second of my life was about surviving until the next day, emotionally and financially, and keeping my children happy and healthy.
    Well, I managed to get away from this man, and was considering becoming going to college to become a registered nurse. I was in the shower when it hit me- that I’d spent my entire life taking care of other people and I had to get out of the whole nursing profession entirely- because I was not going to spend the rest of my life taking care of people.

    It worked. I went back to college and now have a great job I enjoy.

    I struggle with knowing how to best take care of myself, but at least I’m setting boundaries. I’ve told my father several times that he’s got to plan for himself as he gets older, because I’m not able to care for him, emotionally or physically. (I have spinal degeneration in my neck from my mother slapping me repeatedly as a child.) He knows in no uncertain terms that I will put him in a nursing home the second he’s not able to care for himself.


    • hello emmelin! wow! what a woman u r. thank u very much for sharing this bit of your story. u have lived through so much yet u have had the courage to start over when u needed to. thank u for letting us into your company. keep on!

  7. Great post… I’m here it’s almost 1am again. Your so right about getting enough sleep. I tell my kids all the time and yet here I am again … tap, tap, tap on the computer… it’s so quiet and peaceful, I get so much done and nobody wants me for anything.

    Okay, now Im off to bed. 🙂

    • thank u “helping mums.” cool name. (put me on the list! smile.) i hear u. we’ve all been there. thank u for speaking up and letting us, many who feel isolated and chosen for loneliness, that we r not alone. keep on.

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