When did NOT taking care of yourself become “noble?”

In the field of caregiving, it’s not uncommon for us to brag about our lack of self care.  We may not put it in those words, but that’s essentially what we are doing.  Let me provide you with some examples, that I and others have said.

“I’ve done so much overtime recently, I feel like I live at work.”

“I never take a sick day, even if I’m sick.”

“My job forced me to go on vacation because I had racked up so much vacation time.”

“Eight hours of sleep?  I can’t think of the last time I got more than 4!”

Does this strike a chord?  Notice how there’s even some pride behind those sentences?

But here’s where it gets interesting.  When we see others actually taking care of themselves, we tend to fly into the “must be nice” mode.  “Must be nice” to get 8 hours of sleep a night!  “Must be nice” to go on vacation all the time!  “Must be nice” to call out.

The first time I heard about the “must be nice” trigger was in the book I will continue to recommend, “The Compassion Fatigue Workbook.” It immediately hit home, because that is my “go to” phrase when I am jealous of how others are living.

The good news, is that now I have a phrase that essentially wakes me out of my bitter moment.  In fact, I have told everyone in my inner circle, to call me out when I say those words.

I actually gave a brief presentation about this at work.  The next day I saw a video of a family travelling around the world and said out loud, “Must be nice to travel around the world, they must have a trust fund!”  I had just presented on this topic?!  (And yes I was immediately called out on it!)

But here’s the trick.  Instead of beating yourself up when you start the comparison game, look at that as a CLUE.  Be all Sherlock Holmes-y with yourself.  For instance, in my example of the family travelling, why was that triggering for me?  I was envious of the time to travel.  Do I have vacation time?  Yes.  Could I go on a more affordable version of that trip?  Probably.

The same thing applies when you notice yourself bragging about your lack of self care.  No need to make yourself feel even worse, but instead notice it.  It’s a clue into what YOU need.  You may not spend a ton of time on what YOU need so when those sentences fly out of your mouth it’s a clue that your body DESPERATELY wants you to hear!  LISTEN.

Last little thing… it does not matter if Helga from work only needs 4 hours of sleep.  That’s Helga.  What do you need?  Misery loves company, and so to justify bad habits, people will try to encourage you to join them.  Honestly, they probably don’t even know they are doing it.  But remember you are uniquely you, and whatever you need to rest and recuperate is all that matters for YOU.

Comparison is the thief of JOY! -Teddy Roosevelt

Take care of YOU.




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