Most women spend so much time taking care of other’s that they forget how to be taken care of themselves. Not only do they forget, but they may even feel uncomfortable when someone else takes care of them. Women are usually the first to offer help to others but when its offered to them, they often refuse it. In fact, for a lot of women, it takes being completely out of commission by illness or injury to take a break.
The struggle that women have with being taken care of completely makes sense. From a very young age, women are taught to look after others. Even if you aren’t outright told that it’s expected of you, it’s implied. If you come from a family with both boys and girls, your parents probably assume that it's you that will take care of them in their old age and not your brothers. Your brothers also assume it and even if you haven’t given it much thought, you know that this job will rest on your shoulders. When you start dating, you’re taught to take good care of your man. Not only is taking care of your man something that you must do to be considered a good woman, but you’re told that failure to do so may lead to him finding someone who will.
Taking care of others really starts to take a toll on you when you add a little or little’s to your life mostly because the world treats mothers versus fathers very differently. Men are more involved in the home now than they ever have been before but the judgment that society places on moms hasn’t quite caught up to this shift in family dynamics and transferred some of that guilt to dad. If a father takes his kids to the playground, strangers that observe the interaction look at him as if he’s the father of the year. Whereas, moms are referred to as super moms and it takes so little for a mom to be considered a "bad mom". A night out of fun can cause a stir and result in a lot of people looking down on her. Moms are under constant scrutiny, which causes them to step up their game dramatically after having kids. This often involves sacrificing their own needs just to prove that they are good moms.
Even when we’re not physically taking care of others, you can find us worrying about any and everyone that we care about which can also wears on us. We’re constantly obsessed over fixing things for our loved ones both physically and mentally. We find ourselves volunteering for tasks that we have no desire to sign up for and we often say yes to doing something that we really don’t want to do just to appease someone or keep from hurting their feelings even if we really can’t afford to do it or don’t have the energy to do it.
For most women, being a good spouse, mom, or friend means being selfless and we consider the thought of doing anything for ourselves as selfish. If we do something for ourselves that was in our best interest but affected someone negatively, we feel guilty the entire time doing it and regret it. Even if we know that we’re doing what’s for the best, we can’t help replaying it in our heads over and over again and having to convince ourselves that we made the right decision.
In theory, none of this is wrong. Taking cares of others shows empathy and the ability to empathize is an extremely evolved emotion. It can give you an amazing feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment to know that you’ve affected the lives of others for the better. But like everything, anything in excess is a bad thing. The issue comes when you take care of others so much that you fail to take care of yourself. When you’ve given everything that you have to everyone else in your life and you have nothing left for yourself. When you find yourself doing things out of obligation and not out of desire, it loses its meaning and it is no longer fulfilling. When you feel as if you’re being taken advantage of because people know you won’t say no, your selfless nature becomes more of a weakness than a strength that can be exploited.
Learning how to take better care of ourselves and let others take care of us as well are not easy tasks to accomplish. It's not something that we can just say we're going to do and voila, it's done. It's going to take practice. Next time someone offers to help you with something say yes! Next time you really don't want to do something but guilt has you wanting to say yes anyway, don't. It won't be easy at first. It will feel foreign and uncomfortable but creating new habits always feels this way. The more you do it, the more you'll feel comfortable doing it. The inability to be taken care of is ingrained so deep inside of us that it may be impossible to completely change, but we can get better and our determination to improve will hopefully pave a better mindset for our daughters and the future generation of women.