Self kindness, self love and self compassion are not selfish, they are necessary.
I hear so many women talking about how they know they need more self care and that they need to be kinder to themselves when it comes to their self-talk. And yet, they're still not creating the time to make it happen. They're still not changing their thought patterns, their behaviours and they’re still not setting boundaries.
They’re not doing this because they think that by putting themselves first, or even just putting themselves on their own list of priorities, that this is in some way, selfish. Because what they feel they will be doing is taking that time away from others and giving it to themselves.
How could this be reframed in a way that more women get it! Reframed in a way that more women understand it! Reframed in a way so that more women make the changes that they need to make for themselves!
“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too” LR Knost
I think this quote landed with me in a slightly different way. Is this a different way that I can be talking to my audience, to my clients and to all of the women that I coach? Is this a different way to frame it? I came to the conclusion that yes, it is!
I think many of us have been giving ourselves to others for so long, because many of us enjoy, love and thrive on giving, helping and supporting other people. And yet, we don't see how we can put ourselves first. You could be thinking; if I put myself first I might be neglecting my partner, or my kids, or my parents, or maybe even my colleagues, team and friends.
The oxygen mask analogy is an important one here. I know it sounds a little cliche to say ‘put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others’. But I still believe that it’s important to prioritise ourselves and our wellbeing, but look at it from another angle; taking care of myself doesn't mean me first, it means me too.
It doesn't mean that anybody else is less worthy of my time, my support, energy or my attention. It means that in addition to that, I am also worthy of my time, and my energy, and my support, I am also worthy of time for myself. So I wondered if that would land differently? I'd love to know your thoughts on whether that has given you a different perspective, a different starting point, or a different foundation on which to make some of those changes for yourself. Whether giving it that different perspective could somehow help you eliminate some of that guilt.
I hear so much from women when it comes to self care, self kindness and self compassion that they have this overwhelming feeling of guilt. So even when they are doing things for themselves, they're not present in that activity or in that downtime, because they're still worrying about what else might happen.
One of my clients is a consultant in the NHS and we were talking in the run up to Christmas. She works in the emergency department and had been on night shifts for a week and was absolutely shattered. Her last shift finished on the morning of Christmas Eve and she just needed some time and she needed sleep. Her husband had said to her that he will take the kids out for a couple of hours and she will have the house to herself to catch up on some sleep.
So off they went, but the minute they left she didn't sleep because she was overwhelmed with guilt by all of the other things that she felt she should be doing. Getting the stocking fillers sorted, wrapping the last minute presents that she hadn't done, doing the baking, getting the stuff ready for Father Christmas. She felt so consumed by guilt, that she hadn’t used that time to rest. So by the time her husband and kids came home, she was even more exhausted, more wired and not particularly patient or present. Then she just found herself feeling guilty about the fact that she hadn't slept when she should have done, guilty about the fact that her husband had to take the kids out and guilty about the fact it was Christmas.
Christmas morning came and the kids, in their excitement, had woken her up at 5am and came in jumping on the bed. She said the feeling of ‘I really can’t do this today’ was so overwhelming and she felt even more consumed by guilt, because she should have been in the moment with her family and she wasn't, because she was absolutely exhausted. I wonder how many of us feel that same feeling on almost a daily basis? If somebody gives us that time, if somebody gives us that permission to take time for yourself, we allow that time to be so filled with guilt that we don't get the benefits and rewards from it.
How many times have you felt guilty when someone has given you the ‘permission’ to take time for yourself and you’ve not taken it? You are giving yourself permission and choosing to be consumed by guilt- it’s a choice! That might be hard to swallow, but it is a choice. You are choosing to feel guilty instead of choosing to enjoy that gift you have been given.
Self care, self talk, self compassion, self kindness is linked to these permission slips.
So often we can sometimes look to blame other people, right?
I couldn't do that thing for myself because this person wanted my attention.
I couldn't do this thing for myself because this person came to me at the last minute and wanted this.
I didn't do that for myself because this came up at the last minute.
We make a choice at that moment to say whether we give to others or whether we give to ourselves. I absolutely get that there will be times where something is a burning priority, but 9 times out of 10, we’re not talking life or death situations. We are talking that somebody else wants a 10 minute chat, the kids want a cereal bar or they want the channel changing on the TV, or one of our best friends has had a crap day at work and really wants us to go for a drink with her. 9 times out of 10 these are not life or death situations and yet we choose to give to others when we are the ones in that moment that need that re-filling and need that re-energising.
“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too” LR Knost
Coming back to this quote; if you put someone else first every single time, then there is no time for me too. So it becomes me never and that's the point in which we can start to feel resentful. As core led women we need to give ourselves permission to give ourselves what we need. If we can't do it at that exact moment, then we need to give ourselves permission to do it at some point later that day. Because we cannot continue to keep giving and giving and giving to others when we are never giving to ourselves.
If I'm giving you an hour of my time, I am also worthy of time for myself. If I am giving you a listening ear, I am also worthy of time to be heard. If I am giving you support, I am also worthy of support. In the moments that we are given what we need, we also need to give ourselves permission to receive it. To not allow that time to be consumed by guilt, fear, worry or concern. We give ourselves permission to be present, permission for downtime, for reflection and permission to receive what we need. We need to get out of our own way and to stop choosing the guilt and pain over the receiving and the acceptance. We have to stop choosing everybody else all of the time and choose ourselves.
We are worthy!
Sometimes we really do have to put that oxygen mask on first.
Getting to the point of emotional fatigue is even more important to focus on your self-love and self-kindness. Giving yourself those permission slips and recognising that it is not selfish to do the things you want. Remember that core led women do 3 things:
● They understand who they are at the core- their core values, core beliefs and core strengths
● They have strong boundaries
● They take time for themselves
In 2013, I had a successful 15-year leadership career, yet I was burned out, exhausted, and missing out on life with family. Determined to enjoy the success that I had earned, I've created a life of balance and boundaries that is also highly successful.
"What I came to realise after my Burnout in 2013 is that the way women are working isn't working. How we are taught to define success is outdated, and yet it doesn't have to be this way. When we live and lead from our core, we can enjoy being successful women on our terms and in our own way."
Today, I help women leaders all over the world to succeed without giving up their career or jeopardising their wellbeing.
Join me for my free Masterclass on March 15th