Author: Jennifer Witkowski MA, LPC

I overheard a really disturbing thing the other day in the checkout line at the grocery store. Now I’m not usually one that ease drops on conversations, but this woman was so loud, one could not help but hear her.

“Oh my god, what a selfish (insert unkind adjective here), I can’t BELIEVE that she took off a day off work and made her husband babysit the kids so SHE could go on a retreat.”

Now besides the major issue I had with her calling the husband the “babysitter” and not the “wonderful parent that also can share equal responsibility for children, let alone for ONE day” I thought to myself – dang, this is what women are telling themselves. That taking ONE day is a selfish act. That doing ONE thing for ourselves is wrong, or bad.

The hard part is, we need to do a LOT more than just one single thing for ourselves to stay afloat. If you have ever traveled via plane, one of the first things they tell you in the safety briefing is that in the event that the cabin loses oxygen, you must put on your own face mask before you help others. Some mothers usually audibly scoff as this, as we are trained as women to put our children’s lives and needs in front of our own, but the truth is, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can not effectively take care of anyone else. If you do not put the mask on yourself first, you are useless to everyone else, because you are not conscious. You can not run on empty. You can fake it for a moment, heck, maybe even a week or a few months, but that crash comes hard, and is terribly difficult to pick yourself back up from.

When we look at the dictionary definition of selfish, it reads “lack of concern for others, being primarily concerned with ones own pleasure.”  However, what is not included in that is woman that has her own needs, someone who sets boundaries with others, speaking their very real truth, dumping toxic people out of their lives, having the strength to make their own decisions, and being controlled by the expectations of others.

These are all foundations to self care, along with all of the other ways we mentally take care of ourselves.  We, especially as women, need to retrain ourselves, to realize that in order to help others and be the best mother/sister/wife/employee/volunteer/amazing woman we can be, we have to take care of numero uno first, because YOU are important.. if you want to learn more about how to put this self care into practice, stay tuned for part two “why self care is more than a bubble bath.”

About the Author:  Jennifer Witkowski, a licensed professional counselor in Wilmington, NC takes wants to help YOU overcome your struggles! She offers a solution focused and collaborative approach with a compassionate lens, yet helping you hold yourself accountable for change. Fun fact: Jennifer is passionate about rescuing animals in her spare time.