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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Why is it difficult to take care of ourselves?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38980points) December 18th, 2010

Many of us work in positions where we care and advocate for our clients. Others of us are caretakers at home or are seen as the people others go to for support. We are parents and friends and we all give a lot of ourselves to others. Some of us more than others have a really hard time (I’m in this group) taking care of ourselves or realizing we need to self-advocate. Why does this happen? Is it because we hold ourselves to a higher standard or is it something else? Sometimes I feel like I am two different people – the person who has all this energy and strength for others and this weak person who has no strength for myself.

I wasn’t necessarily raised to give more of myself to others and we don’t live in a selfless world. Are there are more people who care more about themselves than others or is it the other way around? What I’m asking is: in your life, what is the balance between how good you are to others and how good you are to yourself? Why is it so hard to learn to put ourselves first and why, when some of us do so, it all goes awry and we become too selfish?

As a mother and a partner and an activist and a working person, I am constantly in flux and in guilt, trying to convince myself that if I am not well, nothing will go right and I am much better at taking care of myself than other moms I know in terms of how much independence and extracurricular time I set aside for myself. I had to literally learn how to be this way through conditioning myself. If it wasn’t for my boss who has (through repetition) convinced me that my mental and physical well being is the most important thing to her, I wouldn’t think that because my parents never taught me self-care. It is simply not something we teach each other in this society. And if we do, it’s all about consumption and self-care through gluttonous spending.

Did your parents teach you anything about self-care, its relative importance to caring for others and how do you (if you parent) approach this subject with others?

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8 Answers

seazen's avatar

I read your details – but I am somewhere else entirely. I am independant, a survivor type with 9 lives; I can live in the jungle, in the city in the country. My children can to.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@seazen I don’t think when I meant self care that I meant whether we can survive or take care of ourselves. Many of us can, especially when necessary.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Try to set aside time for yourself to get exercise.You will feel great! :))

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Not really, no. It wasn’t until I was obviously forgetting to take care of myself that someone stepped in and said that I need to learn to put myself first once in a while. By then, I think I had already developed the habit of putting everyone’s needs before mine.
On the contrary, both in my upbringing and in society, there is a strong focus on helping others. I don’t know if that is the reason that so many of us get caught up in doing for others and not for ourselves, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it factors into the equation.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think that women, especially, are taught from a very early age that our identity is bound up with that of service to others. Our instruction is that we are supposed to be kind, selfless and giving. We’re the arbiters of manners and that sort of thing. It permeates on all levels.

All this makes it especially hard to tend to ones own needs, because we aren’t supposed to have any needs, or at least not any needs that can’t be fulfilled by serving others. While there are definitely some people (and not necessarily only female) who can and do live that way, the vast majority of us aren’t, so it’s good that you recognize that you need to take care of you and nurture you. It is hard, but like with any other learning, operant conditioning, as you’re doing, to take care of yourself will help.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’m from generations of Americans, typical I think in that we feel as if we’re expected to do more for others, to be some all-star troopers and this will somehow sustain and reward us. I believe this is why Americans feel so stressed, take so many drugs and feel isolated even surrounded by neighbors and family. Women especially are expected to have extra inborn reserves of strength when it comes to “giving” which I personally believe is bunk. Guilt is normal because we don’t want to let anyone down, we (typical Americans) don’t want to ask for what we really want others to give without being asked and that’s why there is so much fatigue and frustration. The saying of “Give and you will receive”… don’t count on it.

mattbrowne's avatar

Good self management is a leadership quality. And it takes time to become a good leader.

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.—Peter Drucker

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