My Response to Women Who Don’t Put Themselves First

(Top reasons women don’t put themselves first…and my responses)

1. “It feels self-indulgent, I feel guilty when I do things for myself”, she says with sad eyes that desperately plead ‘save me please!’ / “I am happy when others around me are happy. That is how I take time for me”, she says with a self-sacrificing air and head held high while secretly exhausted.

It isn’t selfish to put yourself first, it is selfish not to. Think about it. When you put everybody and everything else first, you are worn out! Too worn out to do your best. As a result, everybody gets second best. You are exhausted and mildly irritated. You aren’t doing your best and may be a little self-conscious and guarded about lackluster performance.

Can I recount for you a recent conversation I had with a complete stranger at a business networking event?  The event was wrapping up and there were a number of women who were standing around engaged in their separate conversations. A mutual contact introduced me to “Jane”. We greeted each other and it struck me that she was distracted and rushing. After speaking for a very short time, “Jane” excused herself explaining that she had to go because she had a conference call to be on shortly for a non-profit she was on the board for. She added that it was a good organization but she was too busy to be on the board and wished she could get off.  My advice to her was “Then get off!” She looked at me quizzically so I continued, it’s a stressor, you’re not doing your best work, you’re going into the call with a bad attitude, you’ll likely be irritated the rest of the day, and I am certain you have other things that you can be doing that you enjoy. If you’re not putting your best foot forward you are hurting the board, not helping it. Just quit.” “Jane” thought about what I said, her face brightened, she stood straighter and smiled as she said, “Yes! I can quit. I will resign. Thank you.”

2. “I have too much to do, I don’t have time to take time for me”, she says tired, irritated and running late to for her next obligation.

So you think you don’t have enough time for “me-time” huh?  Very interesting, I want to lovingly challenge you on that. You make time for the things that you value. How much time do you think you need? Yes, I know a two week vacation of fun in the sun would be nice with a fruity umbrella drink within reach, but how much time do you really need to start with? An hour or two this week? There are 168 hours in a week. If your schedule is so tight that you have no idea how to squeeze in one little bitty hour then stop now and call 9-1-1. This is an emergency! Seriously though, I know busy women (they have the membership badge to prove it). I do not believe for one second you can’t free up one or two hours.  It is time that you commit to you right now. If you don’t your body will have a negative reaction. You will suffer physically, emotionally, or spiritually because no one is designed to drive hard without relief.

3. “Time for me? HA! What is that? I wouldn’t even know where to start”, she says as she walks away laughing at me while simultaneously shaking her head.

Some women have denied themselves ‘me-time’ for so long that they don’t know what to do with it when they get it. As a result, they prefer business as usual to trying to have enjoyable ‘me-time’.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “The trouble I know is better than the trouble I don’t”? That is how many of us operate and it keeps us stuck in the same old mess.

Do you know that failing to create ‘me time’ is killing women?!?! Trust me I mean it literally.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. Eighty percent of the factors that contribute to heart disease are impacted by life choices and stress. That means that these factors are controllable. Taking ‘me time’ is within your control. You can do it. Think like the little engine that could. Not only can you do it, but you must do it.

4. “Putting myself first would be selfish!”, she says aghast while clutching her pearls

When you take care of yourself you are reminding yourself and others that you are valuable and worthy of precious attention. It seems that we take better care of our material possessions than we do ourselves. How backwards is that?  Oh by the way, if getting your hair and nails done are a part of your normal self-maintenance routine (like brushing your teeth) then you don’t get to count it.  Think about it, homes and vehicles require regular maintenance of the ‘little things’ so that they don’t turn into big expensive things later.  How much more precious and valuable are you than those things?

Lastly, it is imperative that I remind you that even GOD rested. What makes you think you have Energizer batteries in your back? You must slow down and sometimes you have to STOP.  If you never rest, how can you recharge? If you never rest, how do you plan and strategize for the next day, next week, or next phase of your life? You are on auto-pilot and if you don’t reset your user panel you will crash and burn. Do yourself a favor…don’t crash and burn. It is a painful and unnecessary reality check.


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