Most women spend so much time taking care of others 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 too 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 littles 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 women worrying about any and everyone that we care about which can also wear 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. 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
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. This guilt is what causes us to neglect our own needs over and over again. It is what causes us to have trouble prioritizing self-care.
Overcoming these feelings of guilt will take time and awareness. With this time, women can become better at saying no and setting boundaries (guilt-free). After much practice, this will become normal and this new norm will mean more time to do the things that we actually want to do!