I have noticed a common denominator across all the groups I belong to and as a theme among my clients. It is an unconscious belief that, as women, we should always put others first and that it is selfish to take care of ourselves. We call out casually to our friends and loved ones, “take care!” as a way to say goodbye, but rarely take these words to heart for our own benefit. We will readily drop what we are doing to come to the aid of a loved one or child but feel guilty if we schedule a massage or take an evening to ourselves. If this sounds familiar, I invite you to take a closer look.
I would even go so far as to call this viral thought pattern a disease of the mind. It manifests itself in many ways throughout the day and I notice it specifically in the food realm as rushed eating, binge eating, over eating and not taking time to pick foods that truly nourish us, both physically and mentally. Doing so would mean that we are taking time to thoughtfully consider ‘What do I truly need in this moment?’, a skill that we have not practiced nearly enough in our lives.
Women in particular are taught from a young age to be caregivers. We were praised consistently when we were ‘nice girls’, meaning, don’t show your feelings of disappointment, the other person’s feelings are more important, or your job is to go along with the group and not rock the boat. These toxic thought patterns have become so ingrained in most of our minds that it is an instinct, rather than a choice. Many times, instead of speaking our truth, we turn to food for solace. Food will not judge us or tell us to pipe down. We can count on the chocolate cake to provide instant comfort without forcing us to dig a little deeper into the feelings of anger and disappointment we have with ourselves and others for not recognizing that we are actually screaming inside, “But what about my feelings!?!”. Moreover, it is very hard to change this pattern for the very fact that it is so deep and unconscious, thus leading us to years of dysfunctional behavior around food and self-care.
It is time for this belief pattern to rise to the surface and be brought to light. We cannot begin to change unwanted habits until we really believe we deserve self-care. There is a popular saying that goes something like, “We begin to save the world by saving ourselves first.” I personally believe that the world is in desperate need of the feminine voice. When we find a way to speak up for ourselves and change the paradigm of self-sacrifice, we begin to heal ourselves, our daughters, our society and our world.