Why women struggle to love and care for themselves
If you have everybody and you don’t have yourself, then you just have nothing.
Not too long ago, I attended a workshop on self-forgiveness as part of a conversation series on self-love for women. And it was a roller coaster ride of emotions.
One of the participants shared how her whole existence as a person (her womanhood) was defined by her marriage. Her life was resumed to her job and taking care of her husband and relationship.
While she was in love with her spouse — it came to a point where she was no longer happy. So, when she finally had the courage to tell him the truth. He left the house without explanation. They were together for about 9 years.
It was about three months after the separation, that she realized how she was tangled in her husband’s approval and acceptance.
During the session, she collapsed in sadness and tears, because during those 9 years, she gave every inch of her body, energy, and soul — to the detriment of her individuality and sovereignty.
Moving forward, she made the promise to never let the world define who she is. She’s rediscovering the woman she left behind 9 years ago.
Her story reminded me how it’s difficult for women to care for and love themselves as much as they are caring for and loving others.
As Buddha said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Since the beginning of humanity, women have been trained and called to play the role of the caregiver, the nurturer, the gatekeeper. We’ve internalized that to be a good partner, daughter, mother and friend we have to sacrifice ourselves, our needs and our desires.
That’s why, you’ll often hear people say “be selfish”, you need to take care of yourself from time to time.
And I say that we need to stop equating self-care and self-love as an act of selfishness.
It perpetuates the idea that when women focus on themselves, they deprive someone else from something — and at the end creates more tension and puts us in a cycle of depletion.
Therefore, it seems counterintuitive to shift from focusing on others to prioritizing yourself, until some major life event turns your world upside down.
So, what gets in the way of caring for, prioritizing and loving yourself?
Or maybe the deeper question : How is putting everyone else first benefiting you? Where do you need to redefine your own self-worth and yourself?
Because when you know, honor, respect and value yourself, everything else changes.
I love this statement by Susan Piver :
I feel called to share this story, because, at various times in my life, I had lost myself for somebody else. And I know for sure that building a relationship with yourself can be one of the hardest things to do.
I believe it’s important to live our lives for ourselves.
It’s a fight.
And you are worth the fight.
Caring and loving yourself doesn’t mean unicorns, rainbows and bliss all the time.
- You’re not suddenly free of all your obligations.
- Children still get sick and emotionally drain you.
- Rent still needs to be paid.
- Relationships are still challenging.
- Your internal dialogue is still trying to convince you that you’re not good enough.
And, and, and…
But, you’ll show up more and more as who you are because you care less about being rejected.
You’ll start paying attention to your mind, body and spirit because you know that taking care of others is also about taking care of yourself.
You’ll become a fierce protector of your boundaries because you’re clear about what you want and what your limitations are.
In other words, when you care for, love and celebrate yourself, your perspective of yourself and the world changes.