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Thursday, July 13, 2006

self esteem : Improving Self-Esteem With A Little TLC

It is so important to take time to do nice things for ourselves.
Especially for those of us who spend much of our time helping and caring for others, it is too easy to neglect ourselves and become worn out, stressed out and run down.

Self-pampering is not about being selfish. It's about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others. We spend so much time and effort caring for our spouses, children, pets, friends, family members, employers and employees. Add to that numerous volunteer activities, errands, housework, family functions, meetings, etc. - and there isn't much time left for caring for ourselves.

We need to make caring for ourselves a priority, otherwise we will continue to put it off. Set an appointment with yourself every day, or at least once a week. Block the time out in your calendar and do not let anything interfere. As much as you do for others, you deserve this time for yourself. It doesn't have to be a huge amount of time, even an hour or two will do.

You might have a hard time with this in the beginning. You might feel guilty or selfish. You might say you can't fit it into your schedule. You might say you have too many other obligations. If your schedule is that full every day, then it is even more crucial to carve out some time for yourself. You may need to sacrifice something else to fit this time in. You may need to rearrange some things in your schedule. Aren't you worth the effort of trying to fit this in? It's a matter of believing that you deserve to be cared for just as much as everyone else in your life does. It might take some practice for you to fully believe that, and act on it.

In order to make time for yourself, you may need to say "no" to various extra obligations in your life. So many of us take on responsibilities that aren't even ours. We have various reasons for doing this, such as wanting to be liked, not wanting to let others down, wanting to help lighten the load for someone else, or simply because we don't know how to say "NO". However, this "pleaser" mentality can get us into big trouble as we take on more and more responsibility, and end up with less and less time for ourselves.

People will take advantage of us if we let them. They may not realize they are taking advantage, and they may not mean to take advantage. They might not even realize that we don't want to do what they ask of us. After all, if we've never said "no", how would they know? It took me years to learn how to say "no".
Finally I realized that it's as simple as saying, "I'm sorry, I'd love to help you out but I just can't right now." That simple. The first few times I did this, I expected the Heavens to crash down upon me. Instead, the other person said, "okay, no problem" and they asked someone else. Who knew it could be that easy?

Now, if you have people in your life that have become fully dependent on you doing everything for them, you might face a bit more opposition than that. You may have a fight on your hands in order to make time for yourself. In the end, you may need to decide which is more important: 1) pleasing everyone else in your life, or 2) putting caring for yourself as your highest priority. You will need to decide if you are worth the fight, or not. I believe you are.

Be kind and gentle with yourself. If you don't make the time to care for yourself, who else is going to? Look within your heart and see the bright, shining light of God there. That light needs to be nurtured and cared for, or it will begin to dim . . . and eventually die out altogether. And what a shame that would be.

Here are some self-pampering ideas to get you started:

Take a bubble bath by candle light. Spend time in Nature. Get a manicure or pedicure. Have a massage. Listen to soothing music or nature sounds. Send yourself flowers. Treat yourself to lunch or dinner at a nice restaurant. Go window shopping. Relax with a cup of calming chamomile tea. Write your hopes, dreams and wishes in a journal. Watch a comedy or read something funny. Go for a quiet stroll in the evening, or early morning. Buy yourself something new. Get a new hairdo. Visit a spa and have a facial. See a new movie. Dance. Take a nap. Go to an outdoor cafe and watch the world go by as you sip a latte, cappuccino, espresso or flavored coffee. Curl up with a good book. Write a love letter to yourself and mail it. Take dance lessons. Learn a new language. Take pottery classes, or quilting classes, or learn how to make yourself some beautiful jewelry. Say this to yourself every morning and every evening: "I am a beautiful person and I deserve to be treated kindly. I am loved, and I love myself."

Author: Wendy Betterini


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