To quote Dennis Leary from back in they day “Look, I don’t wanna go off on a rant here but…..”. This post is probably going to be more of a rant of mine than anything else. You’ve been warned. I was getting increasingly frustrated with my 16 year old daughter today (shocker I know) when this thought hit me. Why is it so hard to take care of ourselves? Like I really want to know. It is something that is just intuitive to me but honestly seems to be not present in so many people I know. Am I a freak? Probably but let me explain my thought process.
The Current Situation
I have a 19 year old and a 16 year old daughter. Right now it’s the 16 year old that makes me lose sleep. I know this is hardly uncommon. Maybe it’s just me but she seems to take it to a new level. She’s been sick off & on for almost 2 months. Yesterday I took her to the doctor finally and it turns out she has a sinus infection. So we get the prescription for the antibiotics. She takes round one yesterday and then goes to spend the night at friends house last night. We text off and on today and at like 3 in the afternoon I say “aren’t you going to come home to take your antibiotics”. And she says “Do I have to?”. I am simply incredulous. Look, I was 16 once and I have vague recollections of how I operated back then. But come on! You’ve had a barking seal cough that sounds like you are gonna hack up a lung for 6 weeks, don’t you want to get rid of it? Is it really that hard to take a pill that will help you become well again? It’s simply mind boggling to me.
Which makes me think of the broader picture of course. Why is it so hard to take care of ourselves?
How I Roll
We all know I am selfish so maybe that’s part of it. For me it’s pretty simple. If I’m tired, I try to go to bed earlier (work load permitting). If I feel dehydrated I drink more water. I know my body well enough and am pretty good at self diagnosing. So when I am pretty sure I have sinus infection or something similar guess what I do? That’s right, I head to the doctor for a prescription of antibiotics. If my back is hurting on a regular basis I will go see the chiropractor. When my body feels tight from traveling too much or sitting on my butt all day I’ll stretch it out. If I’ve put on a few pounds and I don’t like the way my body feels I’ll change my diet until I get back to where I like to be. I mean come on, it’s not rocket science. Why does this simply make sense to me?
So Why Is It So Hard To Take Care of Ourselves
Here’s the part where I just wander and rant for a bit. I’ll tell you a story that will make my wife mad when she reads this. Around 20 years ago I hurt my back while squatting. Not that kind of squatting, it’s while I was lifting weights kind of squatting. After a week I couldn’t take it anymore and finally went to the chiropractor for the first time. After about 5 or 6 sessions my back was so much better. I’ve been a convert ever since. I don’t got all the time but when my back is acting up I’ll go back to the chiropractor. So a few year ago my back was hurting me. As you might imagine I went to the chiropractor. I told my wife after my 3rd session that my back was feeling better. Her response was “my back hurts all the time!”. To which I responded “So go to the chiropractor!” Just makes sense right??
I know there’s a bunch of areas where we don’t take care of ourselves but these are the big ones that I see on a regular basis.
This statistic should surprise no one. 3/4 of American men and 60% of American women are categorized as overweight or obese. This is a statistic from 2014 so I doubt it’s any better by now. Besides getting into the whole argument of where to draw the line of overweight/obese let’s just agree that being overweight puts you at higher risk for a ton of health issues and is just plain harder on your body. Yet the majority of Americans weigh too much.
Putting being overweight to the side lots of people neglect their physical health in general.
Think about the person that skips the dentist for years on end. Or people that have lingering back problems yet never do anything about it. Hey, I’ll even take a hit here. I knew I had high cholesterol and blood pressure for at least the last 5 years. Finally went to a special doc and got on medication for both. In a month they are both back to normal. Why’d I wait so long to get serious about it? Good question.
This is a whole other issue. In my opinion mental health is just as important as physical health. I would even argue that I work out as much for the benefits I get from it mentally as the ones I get from it physically. Yet so many people suffer with depression for years on end. Or carry around huge sacks emotional baggage that seeing a good therapist for 6 months could help lighten the load substantially. The thing with mental health is unfortunately many times there’s a social stigma attached to it. Shouldn’t be. It’s just as important if not MORE IMPORTANT than physical health.
The bigger picture of course is why do people hold back on taking care of themselves.? Why can it be so difficult to make the time to do something that will make us feel better? That’s the real question. Let’s look at a few ideas for why is it so hard to take care of ourselves.
Here are a few reasons why it’s hard for us to take care of ourselves.
We Think It’s Selfish
This is simply how many of us are wired. Does something like this sound familiar to you? Inside your head you’re thinking about how tired you are and how a nap sounds so good. Then you start to list off the 25 things you should be doing and decide to soldier on with your to do list because doing something for yourself is selfish. Very common.
This is even more true when we think about things we should do for others. If you’ve never heard this saying before I want you to write it down now “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. Translation – hard to give to others when you are run down all the time.
We Teach People How To Treat Us
If you are constantly giving to other people and rescuing other people from themselves guess what kind of people you will wind up attracting into your life? That’s right, people that keep taking from you (since you’re such a giver) and people who always need rescuing. If people see you constantly putting yourself 2nd or 3rd or 4th or lower on your priority list they assume you don’t need much. Or your own health and wellness isn’t a priority so it’s easier for them to ask yet again. If you show people that your own health and wellness are important to you and that you spend time on self care then they tend to stop asking you for so much. This is because they see that you don’t always say yes.
You Think When You Rescue It Shows You Care
This one was super tough for me for many years and I still struggle with it. As a matter of fact the whole issue of my 16 year old daughter not seeing the importance of taking her antibiotics is right in this category. Many of us, myself included, tend to think we show people we care about them by rescuing them. By trying to help them live our definition of a better life. And by focusing on rescuing someone else it’s easy to lose track of our own wellness.
I’ve written this before but I used to take it to the level that I felt I was responsible for other people’s happiness. Wow, what kind of thinking is that? I now try to live by my own motto of I am always willing to help someone who is helping themselves. On the other hand I am not willing to do something for someone who is not equally, if not more, invested in something for themselves. Doesn’t mean I don’t care, it means I can’t do it for them. I can’t rescue them.
I’m Not Worth It
Another reason for why is it so hard to take care of ourselves is that we don’t feel that we deserve it or are worth it. That we aren’t worth the money or the effort or the time involved in doing things that are important to our health and to take care of ourselves. Some things are non issues like going to the dentist. Pretty low effort and doesn’t cost a lot of money (most of the time). But when you start getting into things like a chiropractor or joining a gym or taking the time to work out or buying more expensive food to make yourself healthier meals then it gets a bit fuzzier.
Look, everyone deserves to take care of themselves. Mental health is just as important as physical health. You and all of us are worth it.
I’m not advocating spending 50% of every day at the gym while getting your nails done right before you get a massage while your personal chef cooks you a meal. That’s silly. Unless you can afford it then totally do it. What I am saying is it’s far too easy to put some of our own basic needs for taking care of ourselves way too far down the priority list.
I invite you to take a look at your life and decide you are worth it.
In good health,
6 thoughts on “Why Is It So Hard To Take Care Of Ourselves”
As a Mother of 3, I completely relate to this article! I always put everyone else’s needs above my own. I guess you can say that is how I am wired. I absolutely do not like going to the DR’s if I do not need to, but I will bring my kids or encourage my husband too when he has problems. So I am not sure how to answer your question.
Maybe it is that I feel as though I can ‘heal’ myself, or it will eventually go away. Also, I am always concerned about funds and will ask myself if spending the money on myself worth it. Or could the money be used in a better way?
Thank you for helping me delve deeper into this issue. With all of my kids about to leave the nest, it is a new era for my husband and me, so maybe I will take better care of myself. Thanks for the reminder.
So glad you enjoyed the article! My wife and I have 2 daughters and one is in college. We have 2 more years with the other one and have begun to be able to focus on more things we want. Quite the amazing feeling! To your other point I am always worried about funds as well. We will figure it out!
I totally agree with your opinion especially on the part where you give help to people who are also helping themselves. That’s what my mother passed on to me. She said it’s not called helping but tolerating if you recklessly assist a person’s needs without them trying it out for themselves.
But sometimes we tend to neglect our physical/mental needs because we think we are strong enough to tolerate the pain and it would simply go away just by shrugging it off. Don’t get mad but I am sometimes guilty on this. I thought that me being sick is not something serious but actually it is, and it will be in time had we fail to neglect this responsibility. This is an enlightening article so thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Thanks for sharing MissusB. I completely agree. I am guilty of knowing I am sick yet not slowing down to take care of myself. I’m usually pretty good about getting more sleep but I don’t slow my pace. Thanks again.
Hey Mat! I naturally agree with you in some points and disagree in others. But what I fully agree with is using common sense. Or is it really common sense?
We should behave rationally and there some conducts you listed here that are obviously totally irrational. Taking care of ourselves should be done with the same careful thinking we take care of any of the other important things in our life. Everything in proper balance.
Thanks for sharing Henry. I agree, everything in proper balance.