Even if we aspire to not care what other people think, we often do. Especially when it comes to those close to us. Social pressure has a great impact on our lives and can cause us to forget the importance of self-care and what it actually means.
Throughout my childhood and teen years, I developed a great sense of responsibility to those around me. I wanted everyone to feel content and relaxed, even if it was only when they were with me. I wanted to be someone that you didn’t need to worry about. That would always be there and bring positive energy to the table. Someone smart, fun and reliable. I wasn’t worried about the way I looked and I misconstrued that as not caring what other people think. Because the reality was that I cared about how they felt about me, based on how I made them feel. And I was setting the most stressful expectations that I could ever have set for myself.
Make Self-Care the Standard
I wanted to seem perfect, so I set a standard, getting everyone accustomed to me being a bubbly energetic person. But when I couldn’t maintain the standard those around me worried. Making me feel forced to put on a show again in order to set their minds at ease. It got to the point where I couldn’t even hide if I felt too down to put on the show. If someone invited me somewhere, I wouldn’t want to be rude by declining and potentially causing offense or concern. Especially if my excuse was something as silly as “I don’t feel like it”.
We have developed the idea that declining an invite without a “real” excuse means that there must be something wrong. So even when I was so ridiculously drained that I would turn down invitations, friends would try to encourage me to participate. As a result, I would often end up ignoring my tired body, maybe drink a coffee to boost my energy, and go out and have that fun that I needed to have in order to prove to myself and others that everything was great.
The most supportive thing anyone could have done for me on those days is to say “Stay home, rest and give your body what it needs”. But those around me were supporting me in the only way they had been shown how. I needed to learn how to better express my needs at the same time as reassuring them that all was well.
Are you angry at me?
Sometimes “I dont feel like it” can be misunderstood as “I dont feel like you”. The one major thing that I found very important was reassuring the other person that I just needed me time. It’s only fair to inform them of your reasons so that their own insecurities don’t wreak havoc within them. However, from that point on it is up to them to acknowledge what you say. We cannot be held entirely responsible for the emotions of others.
Teach Self-Care to Your Children
As parents, we want to be perfect examples and be available for our children 24/7. Meanwhile, we are training them to be used to that availability. Causing confusion and concern on that day that mom is having a “bad day”. If a child is accustomed to a parent taking self-care time, their feeling of security may be less dependant on the day-to-day moods of the parent. A stressed-out parent can easily be misunderstood by a child as a parent that is angry at them. Never mind that you can’t be the best you, for them, without putting yourself first sometimes. Make me-time the norm for them growing up.
It is to the benefit of those around you, as much as to your own, to get everyone used to self-care time. There is nothing wrong with occasionally not wanting to hang out or not responding instantly to messages on your phone. And if one of your friends takes some time for themselves, be proud of that friend and take it as a compliment that they feel secure enough in their relationship with you to be honest.
I wrote this article because of a friend who had to be very stern with me when she was going through a tough time and I was trying to be supportive in all the wrong ways. I am forever grateful to her for teaching me how to claim self-care time. Especially since it wasn’t much later that I hit some bumps in the road and needed to start taking my own me-time.