Working Through Self-Care Guilt

As a professional helper, you probably give wonderful advice. You can see other people's problems objectively and give thoughtful suggestions that will really help. The problem is, we so often do not listen to our own advice as professional helpers. 

Maybe as health providers we know what the recommended sugar intake is but still over indulge. Maybe as mental health workers we understand that communication is key but we withhold our emotions in certain relationships. Maybe we know better and just want to do what we want to do.

The problem that comes with not following our own advice comes in the aftermath: the secondary mental beating. I am going to go out on a limb and say that I am not the only one who experiences a little (or more) guilt after watching a few (or more) hours of TV, even though I really needed the zone-out time. I am betting that I am not the only one who curses myself after I have put my own needs to the side yet again for helping someone else.

What ends up happening in these situations is that we get upset for the initial perceived wrongdoing and then get a secondary reaming when we realize that we "shouldn't" be feeling this way. We often do to ourselves exactly what we advise our clients not to do.

The difference is that we can, hopefully, see the pattern and, ideally, break it quickly. We cannot strive to be perfect versions of ourselves and do everything "right" all the time. What we can do, however, is work through the guilt that comes along with self-care with something we give to all our clients: gentleness.

Perhaps indulging in that longer-than-usual nap on your weekend feels extra wrong. Maybe spending a little extra money on a dinner out after a long work day feels unnecessary. Even though you know what self-care you may need, when you practice self-care and then beat yourself up, doesn't that defeat the whole purpose?

Taking a cue from what I tell my clients, I want to remind us all to turn that gentleness and compassion inwards. Self-care is necessary, not just for our clients but for everyone--ourselves included! When we practice self-care without guilt, we are more likely to stick to those routines, benefit from the practice of self-love in its entirety and feel the lasting results of a cared for mind and body.

If you're feeling particularly lacking in the self-care department, sign up for my free 3 day challenge designed to reduce your stress & practice more self-care. Sign up here!