As you were growing up you may not have learned how to take good care of yourself. In fact, much of your attention may have been in taking care of others or on just getting by. People-pleasing is a term that refers to taking care of others’ needs rather than taking care of ourselves.

People often confuse “people pleasing” with being unselfish and make comments such as “I am not a selfish person”.  However, always putting other people’s needs before your own can exhaust you. By caring for others at your own expense, you are inviting illness, depression, stress and resentments. Always doing for others when you really wish you could say “no” instead of “yes” sets up resentment. We begin to feel angry and resentful especially when we ask that particular person for a favor in return, and they cannot accommodate us.

Self-care is about honoring ourselves, and in doing so we say to ourselves and to everyone else: I matter. The other extreme is being selfish. Being completely selfish requires always putting your needs first and foremost, even stepping on others to get what you want. What we do recommend is “self-interest" or "self care” and what this means is taking good care of yourself, even putting your needs first at times, while considering the needs of others. The best balance in relationships is to give and receive. Your own needs, desires and ideas are just as important as anyone else’s. 

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Self-care is about honoring ourselves and our potential. Women are even more prone to struggle with this notion because they have historically been encouraged to put the needs of others before their own. Not practicing self care has a price.

Self-care does not come naturally or easily for many. Begin today to take good care of yourself. Take time to do things you enjoy, give yourself rewards, take time to exercise, eat healthy, take a virtual yoga class, schedule Facetime with people who make you feel good, and practice saying “NO.” Those who have a problem saying “NO” have difficulty affirming themselves and exercising their ability to form and maintain personal boundaries. The inability to say “NO” may be linked to the self-esteem you think you earn by doing things for others. 

Since your self-esteem seems to depend on the things that you do for other people, your reluctance to say “NO” is understandable. When people say “YES” when they really want to say “NO”, self-esteem erodes. Such behavior conveys the attitude, “your feelings are more important than mine.”  Pay close attention to your own needs and wants and listen to your “inner voice.”

Be especially mindful during this pandemic and isolation time. It is easy to get caught up with the entire family at home and lose yourself. If you are not okay, no one else in your family will be okay. 

Giving yourself permission to take some time alone is healthy and will recharge you so that you can be present with your family and loved ones. Just because everyone is home does not mean you cannot set healthy boundaries and establish appropriate space for self and others. Seek a healthy balance.

At the Hellenic Therapy Center we are offering Zoom, Phone and FaceTime sessions. Please visit www.hellenictherapy.com or call 908-322-0112 or visit us on Facebook.