Where Are You On Your Priority List?

Where Are You On Your Priority List?

My next FPA blog topic comes right out of the first one on stress management and control. There are certain people out there who really define themselves by their ability to see to, take care of, and otherwise nurture all their loved ones. On the surface this doesn’t sound so bad. Who can argue with someone so selfless? The problem that I often see in these nurturing people is when their self-worth is too wrapped up in whether or not they believe they have been successful in making all those people in their charge better.

Though not exclusively so, the prime victims of this mentality are women. There is still a cultural belief that women are the nurturers; that they have some sort of innate responsibility and skill at seeing to those around them. I can’t begin to tell you the number of sad and frustrated women who weep bitter tears in my office over the fact that many of the people they are trying to care for are not doing so well and always seem to resist the good advice and support of these caring women. But when I ask my clients where they put themselves on the list of people to see to or care for, it is almost without fail that they say that they are not on that list or if they are it is at the very bottom.

But if you remember my last blog, you’ll remember that this is the best way to feel out of control and stressed out. I wish I could tell you that most of those I work with on this issue immediately start seeing to themselves when the realization occurs but that would not be true. I so wish these women would see that loving and seeing to themselves is just as important to seeing to others but the idea is so ingrained in many of them that they cannot accept this truth on any sort of deep level. So while we continue to work on self-esteem, I often say something like this. “If you can’t see your way clear to take better care of yourself for your own sake, do it for those you love. If you continue down the path of all the effort going outward instead of inward, then you will eventually wear yourself down to the point that you won’t be able to take care of anyone – let alone yourself.”