Self-Care is not “Selfish”

Why Self-Love is Essential for Career Women
Doreen Steenland

Loving others is something we are really good at for women! It comes naturally for us! We have spent years training ourselves to spot and meet needs, everywhere!  We are amazing at jumping into action to help everyone else get what they need. 

But what about you?

Our society has programmed us as women to busy ourselves caring for everyone else’s needs but our own. It’s no wonder I talk with women every day who feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and downright resentful! As a matter of fact, most women don’t even know what they need.

It’s not because they aren’t smart or good at reorganizing time and space to meet their needs. (Please don’t think that thought; you are not lacking anything….you are enough.)

Why is it that women are unaware of their own needs?

It’s really because of two reasons.  The first reason is that we have been programmed to use busyness and exhaustion as a badge of honor.  If we are busy, it means that we are being valuable. We have fallen into society’s trap of boasting about our busyness.  We have determined in our minds that busy equals valuable and important.  This is a lie!  Your value does not depend on your activity level!

One reason that busyness is not healthy for you is that there is no space to even think about what you need, what you want, what you desire.  Busyness keeps you from setting and evaluating your goals. It’s a trap! This is problematic because without goals, without dreams, without focus, life seems mundane and unsatisfying.  One day rolls into another and we feel as though we are living in the movie Groundhog Day, where it is one rerun after another and this is painful internally for us.

When we are running around in a frantic, flurry of activity, we have no space to even consider what we might be needing.  We know a few things:  I’m exhausted and not appreciated AND I don’t know what to do about it! Once again, we don’t know what to do, not because we aren’t smart, but because our brains are in overload and we haven’t created the space to unclutter them and assess the carnage.

Secondly, society has programmed us to believe that women were created to serve everyone else and put themselves last. We behave as if we were second class citizens and then get angry about it. We often expect others to read our minds and know what we need, when in fact, most of us cannot articulate what we really need. 

Women feel “less than” if they are not jumping through all the hoops and running fast on the hamster wheel of life. They think that they can have full time careers, care for every need of their loved one, have a Pinterest ready home, provide picture perfect experiences for their family and the world to see on the external front.  However, internally they are gasping for air.  Social media and our digital world has just accelerated this life sucking cycle.

Being too busy to love yourself and meet your needs is not acceptable.  We need to change the way we are living our lives.  These are all major shifts in our mindset. 

You can change the way your brain evaluates the reality of your life.

It’s time to make the space to hear yourself think and understand what you really need (which Is different and unique to every woman). This is ground zero.

What can we do to right the ship?

  1. Ask yourself what is non-negotiable for yourself?  Is it daily workouts?  Daily walks in nature?  Sit down and think about what you need physically for yourself.  What do you need physically to decrease the stress and overwhelm you are feeling? When you determine what physical needs you have then build it into your schedule like you would one of your kids’ extracurricular activities.  Just like we become creative to carpool, we can become creative and keep that space sacred for our physical well being.
  2. Ask yourself what do you need emotionally? What kind of emotional support do you need for your loved ones?  How can they help you to balance your emotional landscape?  What things would lessen your stress level?
  3. What needs to change in your schedule?  What is the cost to your wellbeing trying to keep that Pinterest perfect persona going?


Next month, we will focus on how to ask for what you need without getting angry or feeling guilty.

Doreen Steenland is a Transformational Coach who empowers professional women who battle overwhelm, stress, and self-sabotaging thoughts, get anchored, be intentional and think clearly.   She helps women harness the superpower of our brains.  As founder of Living Full Life Coaching, she is a working mom of three amazing young adults who is happily married and lives in New Jersey. She enjoys golf, tennis, hiking, biking and walking in her spare time.

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