At a young age, I was taught that my value was determined by how well I took care of the needs and feelings of others, by how much I pleased others. I was taught that self-sacrifice was a virtue.
Maybe this happened to you also?
By watching the actions of our mothers and the other women in our lives, we as young girls are often conditioned to put the feelings of others before our own feelings, to make sure everyone else’s needs are met before meeting our own needs.
Intentionally or not, we are taught to value ourselves less than we value others. And we are rewarded when we care for others first, reinforcing outdated social norms about the subordinate role we have in our society.
That’s a good girl.
I wish I had never been taught that my needs, my feelings, my care came after everyone else’s. It has been incredibly hard to unlearn.
Because of the gender conditioning I received as a young girl, I have to make a deliberate effort every day to prioritize what I need, and to love and value myself first.
I’ve had to overcome the ingrained feeling that actions I took for self-care – so critical to my well-being – were selfish or even narcissistic.
To value and love myself, I’ve had to free myself of this harmful and demeaning programming, these outmoded beliefs about what women in our society should be.
We as women bring so much power to the world. Our energy is the bedrock upon which families, communities, and even cultures are rooted, nourished, and sustained.
But sadly, we’ve been conditioned to value ourselves least, giving our energy and power away to others instead of investing it in ourselves. We’ve been indoctrinated to believe that putting ourselves first is selfish, and we feel guilty when we do.
This misbelief hinders our ability to prioritize ourselves – our needs, our self-care, our happiness.
As a result, we feel overloaded, underappreciated, resentful, and even used.
Yes, we all have responsibilities to others. Our children, our significant other or spouse, our employer, our community. But first, we have a responsibility to ourselves.
When we make self-care a priority, we feel better, calmer, more in control. We feel love. We exude a beautiful confidence and energy when we love ourselves more.
And when we love and value ourselves more, we also teach our young girls that their needs are important, that their worth is innate.
My new book, “I Love Me More: How to Find Happiness and Success Through Self-Love,” will launch on March 8, 2022.
In this book, I guide you through defining self-love, how we sabotage self-love, how to put yourself first, how to use self-love to be valued at work, how to balance caring for yourself and caring for others, and much more.