People Pleasing & Self-Care – By Kirsty E

For a long period of my life, I defined self-care as selfish, also recognising that I was, still am, a people pleaser. I wonder what your initial thoughts and feelings were when reading the term ‘people pleaser’? I am curious because I believe language is extremely powerful and feel we can often attribute positive or negative connotations to things, good / bad, right / wrong – all or nothing and black or white thinking. What might it be like to step into the middle, grey area? I did just this, initially challenging my negative perception of being a people pleaser. I acknowledged that some things needed to change as certain patterns of behaviour could be to the detriment of my own well-being, yet equally, it felt good to validate that I get great joy in helping, supporting, caring for others – balance was what felt important here, not labelling people pleasing as all bad.

If I could reframe what being a people pleaser means to me, then perhaps alongside accepting the parts of this that felt good, I needed to do something about challenging the times I perhaps lost myself in this – this was not my whole identity. This meant redefining my view of self-care, understanding that I had a choice in the language I use, or better still, being ok with the fact that sometimes you need to be selfish for your own well-being – this does not make you a bad person. So, what is self-care – Going to the gym? Yoga? Meditation? Eating healthily? Eight hours sleep a night? Being sociable? By this point I panicked – how am I going to find time to do all of this!

With the abundance of advice, guidance, advertising that surrounds our everyday life, I had totally decided what self-care should look like. Now ‘should’ can create pressure and expectations, and who is the ‘should’ even for? If we recognise everybody as an individual, then surely the one size fits all approach doesn’t work? I began to check in with myself, when were my body, mind, emotions feeling calm, relaxed, and rested. When did I need this? How could I create space for this? How much time did I realistically have? I started establishing what I could do if I had 10 minutes, 30 minutes, a couple of hours, and how this could be flexible, in the moment. For me that included sitting and listening to music, a short yoga routine that I could do at home, going for a walk, decluttering / organising and spending quality time without distraction with special people in my life.

I wonder what self-care looks like for you. Are you struggling to find the time? Try to be kind to yourself and consider what you are doing and who you are doing it for. Is it your version of self-care, what works for you, or does it come from the pressure of ‘shoulds’. If you are super busy and spinning lots of plates, might you be able to give yourself 10 minutes a day, this could even be sitting down with a cup of tea and a biscuit without the distraction of technology or anybody needing / wanting something from you. If struggling to make time for yourself, I wonder if you ever see yourself as a priority? How can you be the best version of yourself for others if you do not take care of your own needs? You are important, you are a priority, you are deserving.

‘Self-care is giving yourself permission to pause’ – Cecilia Tran

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