How many of us feel guilty when we can’t do all that we think we should do?
Why put yourself second?
I don’t think you have to have an illness to have this experience. Whether it’s commitments at work, with your friends, or with yourself, sometimes you just aren’t up for what you have planned. Most of us tend to cut out what we planned to do for ourselves to not let others down.
Self-Care Benefits Everyone
But if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t be at our best to do our jobs or to be a good friend. PWNs (People with Narcolepsy) may be able to relate to this scenario: You go out with your friends when you are too tired. Later you have almost no recollection of what you talked about or even if you listened to what your friends were saying at all. You feel like your friends would have been better of if you had just stayed home since you weren’t “present” in the conversation. Essentially, you wish you had given yourself permission to rest.
We have to learn to accept our limitations without limiting ourselves. This is where having a life coach can come in handy. That third person perspective can help you determine where your physical limitations end and your mental limitations begin. Mental limitations are something that we can change. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Hypnosis, and other disciplines, we can actually change the way our minds work.
Here is an example. My current challenge is to put a positive spin on self care, and remove the guilt. I don’t want to say, “sorry I can’t I’m too tired.” I want to say, “Maybe next time, I already have plans.” If they ask I can explain, “I am having a self-care night. I’m going to soak in the tub, read a book, do some yoga or meditation, and go to bed as early as I want.” If they are a good friend, they will understand. I will rest easy knowing that I didn’t turn my friend down because I don’t love them. I turned them down because I also love myself.
Why is it so difficult?
People learn from experiences. Most of us know what it feels like to “disappoint another person”. But what if I told you that isn’t your problem, that is their problem. You can’t “make” anyone feel anything. Everyone is responsible for their own reactions and emotions. Many of those reactions stem from expectations. Everyone is responsible for managing their own expectations as well. Once you can fully accept these ideas, you can be free from guilt.
But its not as simple as it sounds. Proclaiming, “I’m no longer afraid of spiders” doesn’t change your fear. But it is possible to tap into your brains programming and reverse that fear. It may take some work, but wouldn’t it be worth it? Imagine never being afraid again. Imagine never feeling guilty for taking care of yourself first. Imagine giving yourself permission to rest, and doing it guilt-free.
When does this apply?
Always. You always have the right and responsibility to take care of yourself first.
Even when traveling, I have to remind myself I can rest. I don’t need to go to every site on the list of the top 15 things to do in Bangkok. In fact, when I was there last week, I honestly didn’t go to a single place on my list. I had caught a cold, a simple cold. I know if I had to work at a traditional job, I would have gone to work and functioned as well as I could. But this time, I gave myself permission to rest.
I went out and ate steaming hot curry soups and drank delicious tamarind juice. But I didn’t push myself. I walked around near my accommodation and tried to get a feel for the area. I found a rooftop garden in my hostel and relished the moment. I drank a ton of water, and just took care of myself. And I have no regrets.
Bangkok will always be there when I am ready to return. But since I took care of myself, my cold lasted a week instead of a month. I have always said that because of narcolepsy, it takes me longer to get over simple illnesses, but now I am learning to help myself heal. The simplest part of that healing is to rest, but to rest without feeling guilty about it.
If you have a therapist, you can ask them to help you make these changes. There are also a number of great books you can read to help you make the shifts on your own. If you are interested in getting help, you can contact a life coach. If you have changed some of these things for yourself, I would love to hear from you! Contact me or post a comment below to share your experience!