Why Putting Yourself First Is Unselfish (Self-Care Is Not What You Think It Is)

You may have been told (over and over) that it is important for you to think about self-care.  It’s a topic that comes up for professionals time and time again.   I don’t disagree with that overall- but let’s dig deeper…

I am convinced that job satisfaction, client results and “self-care” are all wrapped up together and are indicators of a much larger issue of caring for and knowing our “selves”.  When these issues are on the rise and looking good- our “selves” are healthy.  When they are in the decline- we have a problem.  Everyone would agree that low job satisfaction, client defection/complaints are not what we want to see in our careers. However, do we understand how our “self” plays a role in both our desired outcomes and our “ugly outcomes”?  The evaluation of caring for ourselves starts with paying closer attention to both the positive and the negative equally.  There is much to learn about our “selves” when we connect these issues in a cohesive way.

“Self care is not simply taking time off or eating right or managing your time.  True self-care is the merging of who you are and what you do.”

For most professionals the discussion about self-care stops and starts with suggestions about lifestyle (eating, sleeping, having strong support circles).  Those are all great suggestions and are important aspects of caring for yourself.   These suggestions are common sense reminders of managing our health responsibly.  Some organizations honor this, promote this and endorse health and others don’t.  If you “fail” to look after yourself there is nowhere to  make an adjustment other than you.  But…what if there is more to “self” than that?  If it is your responsibly alone then it is critical that you understand intimately what your definition of “self” is and how it impacts your performance, client results and sense of job satisfaction.

Organizational identity and personal identity are central to high quality self-care.

In re-framing the definition of “self-care” consider what it means to be yourself at work- in the role that you have.  There is a reason that you followed the path that you did and pursued the career that you are in.  Do you get to live those reasons in your daily professional life?  Many professionals experience a high level of disillusionment at one point or another in their professional lives.  When those questions start to percolate it becomes an issue of identity that is the foundation of caring for ourselves.  You see, if you do not have access to who you are in a fundamental way at work- your “self” will suffer causing frustration, anxiety and sometimes a sense that a drastic change is needed.

When you were a young child, the idea of being something when you grew up functioned to help form the very first concept of “self” that you would then live every day.  Pretend play in young children is the “trying on” of identities.  Who are you on the inside?  Our play gave us a feeling of what it meant to be in different roles.  Over time this becomes the themes that pull through our lives.  You may not have been the fireman, or the princess, or the Queen that you wanted to be at age 7- but there is a theme between then and now.  When our theme of “self” does not have the opportunity to resonate in our current careers it is an indication that we are not caring for who we are.  Over time the erosion of ourselves as we are pressed against the hard surfaces of ethical dilemmas,  client expectations, and organizational constraints forces us to face our self-care.   Issues of health like eating, sleeping and balanced life-style are symptoms of a much deeper issue.  Heed the tolling of the bells and ask yourself are you being who you’re meant to be?

Many, many adults enter into a “crash and burn” reality around who they are as professionals.  It shows up as the mid-life crisis.  I am certain that if we evaluated the theme of “self” that does or does not pull through our lives- our process of evaluating who we are and what place we have in the world would have far less fall out than it does for many professionals today.  Being led through a process of connecting our identities within our work can shift our emotional experience and help us to strategize actions towards fulfilling our personal goals in our everyday engagements as professionals.  A professional coach can often reframe the relevant issues and lead you towards a healthy understanding of what changes you need and where you can rest assured- the real you is shining through.


1.Who were you at age 8? Around age 8-10 we start to make our very first statements about “self”.  Can you identify the meaning of that “self”?  Were you someone who helped others, good in emergencies, a nurturer?  Find your FIRST self.

2.Who are you now?  Can you state why you do what you do- not your job description (there’s a manual for that somewhere- no need to rehearse it).  I mean do you know what it is that drew you to the work that you do?  Reconnect with your CURRENT self.

3. Does the theme of “self” pull through for you? Can you see the cohesion of who you are across your life?  If you can- this can help you to feel more positive about your choices and confident about your direction.  Perhaps drastic change to meet your personal goals isn’t needed now that you have reconnected to your “Self-care”.  But- it can also reveal that your theme isn’t there and you aren’t being who you are meant to be.  This can confirm that change is needed or that you are compromising to the point where your health is going to become a reflection of poor “self-care”.

Avoiding a crisis of self means asking some very revealing questions. 

A VIP Day with me and  One on One coaching can provide you with the IMMEDIATE, INTIMATE and INTENSE evaluation of what to do next.  I  can help give you clarity and peace in your work and your role.  Let’s ask those questions together.

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