Self-Care is not Selfish

“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”                                                                                                                          Parker Palmer

I spoke with a client recently who struggles with self-care. She grew up with the narrative that taking time for her own healing and restoration was selfish. We discussed her problematic relationships with her family of origin, and the negative messages she received about her own self-worth.

Now, I am not one of those counselors who likes to blame every client problem on poor parenting. In almost all cases, parents want the very best for their children and they do the best that they can. Yet, in some cases, like this one, the client had suffered abuse at the hands of one of her parents. I can hardly imagine the pain and betrayal of that, but it does happen, and there are some lasting consequences that must be dealt with.

For this client, it was a sense that she was not free to care for herself. I suggested to her that self- care is not selfish. Proper attention to personal needs of safety, health, and personal space are essential, not optional. If she needed permission to take care of herself, I gave it.

So, do the things you need to do to take care of yourself.  Exercise, read, take a walk in the woods, take time alone- whatever you need. We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves. Only then can we be fully available to others.

Prayer: Lord, you have provided all that we need for self-care. Help us to see the value of it, Amen.

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