My Own Best Friend

I’m convinced that women taking care of everything but themselves is an epidemic in the US. I’ve heard and witnessed examples of this phenomenon on a regular basis and it’s been a real eye-opener! There’s a difference between “running on all cylinders” and running yourself into the ditch of burnout. I’ve been in both places and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Our culture encourages this unhealthy behavior. I grew up in the New York metropolitan area, where overwork is the norm; take a sick day and you’re treated like a slacker! Also, the necessity of two income families throughout the country was a game-changer, since women are usually expected to work at a full time job and then come home to run the household, doing their “women’s work.” Then there’s the double-edged sword of the rising divorce rate; it’s important to have the ability to leave an unhealthy marriage, but if there are children involved, the divorced woman is often the overwhelmed custodial parent.

No matter what the situation may be, added to the mix is the powerful “inner voice,” whose words and philosophies are as different as we are. Our self talk is deeply ingrained, since it’s formed during our impressionable young years and it’s often demeaning, self sabotaging and filled with hopelessness. Negative self talk is not a women-only phenomenon; there are hundreds of workshops, life coaches, books and articles to be found that address this subject.

I’m encouraged when I see women making the important commitment to self care. Why it’s often difficult for us to do so baffles me, but I’ve accepted this fact, beginning with myself. It’s easy to slip back into the old habit of care-taking without taking the time to check in and nourish myself. And when the events of my life overpower me with stress, it awakens the depression that sleeps inside me, often resulting in a state of frozen overload. The good news is I’m aware of these tendencies and I truly believe I deserve happiness, good health and all the loving kindness I’m able to give myself. Learning to love and care for myself is like recovery; there are peaks and valleys and those times when a cruel inner dialogue makes me say, “What? YOU again?!” But one day at a time, and with the help of inspiring voices and faith, I’m finally becoming my own best friend.

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