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June 2, 2015

It’s Your Responsibility

I realized I regularly neglect a very important responsibility: me.

“You don’t flirt when he looks good. You flirt when you look good.”

I remember seeing this headline above an image of a girl admiring herself in the mirror on the glossy page of the magazine many years ago. I think it was advertising jeans, but I honestly don’t remember. But that particular statement on that ad stuck with me.

Isn’t that so true?

You don’t want to go out on the town when everyone else is excited. You want to go when you are excited.

You don’t want to be in a bunch of pictures when everyone else looks good. You want to when you look good.

You don’t want to have fun, laugh, get into an adventure, tell stories, or make memories when everyone else is in a good mood. You want to when you are in a good mood.

It all starts with you.

I was thinking the other day about all of my many responsibilities. Most are the same as yours I am sure—financial, family, work, and so on. And then I realized something . . . I regularly neglect a very important responsibility: me.

See, I take things more seriously when I view them as my responsibility (as opposed to a luxury, which is optional). Working, taking care of my baby, being a supportive wife, showing up for my friends, helping others—those are all important responsibilities.

Like many people, taking care of myself always seemed like a luxury I indulged in—if I had some extra time left over.

But we shouldn’t view taking care of ourselves (like working out, spending time on a hobby, or having cute clothes that make us feel good) as luxuries saved for guiltless times of the year such as birthdays and holidays. We should instead view them for what they truly are: our responsibility.

Because here is the reality: It’s your responsibility to make yourself feel good. It’s your responsibility to make yourself happy, confident and proud. It’s your responsibility to make yourself a person that your family wants to be around, a woman that your husband wants to take on a date, a mom that your kids want to play with and a friend that people want to hang out with.

No one can do that for you. For example, no matter how many times my husband tells me I look pretty, if I don’t feel pretty, I don’t act like it.

And when you use the martyr syndrome of putting everyone else first as an excuse to live your life grumpy, rushed and running ragged, everyone loses.

You know that feeling, don’t you? I sure do.

It’s spending that extra 20 minutes before you leave the house vacuuming the floors instead of putting on makeup, which then leads to shying away from pictures later at dinner with friends. It’s being impatient with your kids, unhappy with your spouse, and easily frustrated at work because you haven’t had even two free minutes for yourself to unwind, read a good book, or just take a freaking nap.

It’s called shame, and it’s heavy, exhausting and ugly.

When you don’t take care of you, you feel bad. And when you feel bad about you, you feel bad about everything else too.

I’m not saying you need to ignore your other responsibilities. And I am certainly not saying you need to obsess over how you look. If you’ve read my writing for any amount of time, you know that I’m not about that.

But I am about taking care of yourself and doing things that make you happy. It’s not selfish—it’s self-preservation. And it’s not a luxury—it’s your responsibility.

So let’s take our responsibilities seriously. Not just the responsibilities we have to others, but the responsibility we have to ourselves as well. After all, we can’t offer something we don’t have, and we can’t lead others where we are not.

“The most powerful way to teach a daughter how to enjoy life is to let her see her mother do the same.” –Meg Meeker

Spend some time this week making yourself the very best version of you. That might mean spending an extra 15 minutes putting on makeup, or going for a run, or getting a pedicure, or buying a new outfit. Go do whatever makes you feel good, whatever makes you happy, whatever makes you want to flirt ( . . . figuratively speaking, of course).

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Leave a Comment

  1. Heather says:

    Thank you! I truly needed this today. I follow you regularly and appreciate the realness of your blog.

  2. Alice says:

    Very ineresting and true. I have my younest sister to learn this very attitude from, although she shows it as a part of her personality rather than realized resposibility. Teachers are around, thank you 🙂

  3. Jenny says:

    i love the beautiful ruffled-front raspberry colored dress in the photo! Owning that dress would make me feel good! Where can I buy one?

  4. Susan says:

    Wow! I never ever thought about that before, and I think it is so true with me. I learned after my mother, who seldom did things for herself and I am so much the same as her. I will try and remember your words, so the rest of my life can be different. I’m 54 years young!

  5. I have been saying this for years. I learned it the hard way in the mid-90s as a young mother. And I make sure I share it with my peers and any new mom I meet. Love them, train them in the way they should go, do things for them, but for the love of all things sacred to motherhood, tend to the woman behind the roles of wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter and worker! A burnt out shell of a woman does more damage long term and with a broad swath of the brush. She’s feeling resentful, and behaving unkindly to those she loves most who then become hurt people. Hurt people hurt other people. It’s an ugly cycle and it has to stop somewhere. And it’s so easy to nip in the bud if we take the time to be kind to ourselves and nurture our own needs along the way.
    I blogged about it in 2011, and we’ve added another sprog to the mix since then. So, now I’m a mom of 5 and all of these things still hold true. Love yourself in the verb sense of the word.
    http://feistyirishwench.blogspot.com/2011/04/balancing-act.html

  6. PositiveSmith says:

    This is perfect timing for me!
    I have been given homework to figure out what “selfish” things I like. The next step is (just as this article talks about) doing them without guilt.

  7. Ruth says:

    So true! I am a registered nurse and my soapbox lecture to moms and wives is: get yourself a doctor, gyn or PCP and see him/her regularly. get your yearly check up and mammograms. Take your vitamins! When you don’t feel “right” go see your dr. Who is going to take care of everyone else if you are sick? Same thing with exercise….do it!

  8. RevBarbK says:

    Putting self-care on my calendar — and in my budget — helps me make it happen. And thank you for reminding me that we live with the messages we “caught” from our own mothers. I’m going to 1) acknowledge how that is currently reflected in my own behavior, 2) forgive my mom and myself, 3) seek better role models in this area of my life, and 4) put some new thoughts and actions in practice. Thanks, Christy, for helping me formulate a plan of action!

  9. Tanya Hargrove says:

    You are such a blessing Christy. Please keep writing transparent articles like this one. It is helping so many women like me see our own reflections of our own problem in our own mirror.

    Thank you… Big Hugs

  10. Cindy says:

    Such a wonderful reminder. It really hit a cord in the article, “And when you use the martyr syndrome of putting everyone else first as an excuse to live your life grumpy, rushed and running ragged, everyone loses.” We are on BS 2 and I have put myself at the very bottom of our budget, including haircuts and pedicures. Maybe I need to reevaluate and fit these in occasionally:) Thank you, Christy!