125. How We Culturally Glorify Self-Neglect

I came across this quote from a woman who asked, “Why am I okay paying absurd amounts of money sometimes for kids’ activities, but I won’t pay for relatively cheap gym membership for myself? I am so ridiculous! Self-care should be a higher priority…”

In thinking about this I came across a researcher (Dr. Coonze) who said that women are socialized to put others’ needs above themselves, and go the extra mile at their own expense.”The very same thing that makes women great achievers in education, and particularly reliable at work, is also the same thing that makes them prey to saying ‘yes’ in situations where they don’t want to.”

I think this is super hard for us to even notice because we live in a culture that totally glorifies self-neglect. It’s so common for us to neglect our own health, dreams, wants, and needs – thinking this is how we show love to our families – without questioning if this is even a good idea.

And I have totally done this! Until I really realized this was in no way healthy.

If you’re wondering if you do this or how you can stop doing this, I talk all about it on this week’s podcast episode. I’d love to have you join me! Go take a listen and let me know what you think! xo, Janeen

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[00:00:00] Janeen: Hey, they’re my friends. Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. I am Janeen Alley, and today we are talking about how we culturally glorify self neglect. We’re talking about how we do this and why we do this. So I came across this quote from a mom who says, "why am I okay paying absurd amounts of money sometimes for my kids’ activities, but I won’t pay for a relatively cheap gym membership for.

[00:00:27] I am so ridiculous. Self care should be a higher priority." I don’t necessarily agree with the, I’m so ridiculous part, but I’m so glad this mom is seeing that her self care needs to be a higher priority. So we get this cultural messaging. I think often that serving others at the expense of sacrificing ourselves and our own dreams is love.

[00:00:55] It’s what good moms do. And I have bought into this. [00:01:00] I have definitely been a victim of this cultural messaging because I felt for a long time that I needed to put my kids needs and wants above my own, like I said, to be a good mom. And the only person that was telling me this was me. Fortunately, my husband doesn’t think this way and my kids were too little to tell me otherwise. Sometimes my teenagers put up a stink when I tell them that it’s mom time . But I definitely bought into this messaging and it was something that burned me out and something that I got very depressed and anxious and stressed over because I was trying to do all the things for all the people and very little for myself, almost to a point of it not happening at all. And I was burned out. And I was stressed, and this is not what I want for you. So, Let’s talk about this. I [00:02:00] think this is a fascinating thing that we do. And the other thing that I wanna tell you right off the bat, is making your needs and your wants a part of your family culture is your job. Don’t expect anyone else to do this for you. Even if you have amazing kids and an amazing partner, , this is your job. You need to advocate and stand up for yourself if you’re feeling burned out and exhausted. One of the things that I came across in my research for this episode today, Is a researcher said that women are socialized to put others’ needs above themselves, and I would say, I’m just kind of cutting into this quote here.

[00:02:45] I would say that yes, I think we’re socialized to do this for sure, but I also think that this is something that’s innate within us when we have a baby they can’t do anything for themselves, , right? I mean, they can’t eat [00:03:00] by themselves, they can’t clean themselves up, they can’t do anything.

[00:03:02] I mean, that is obvious, right? But at some point, there needs to be this shift where mom says no. Kids are asking for something, and moms or dads or whoever, we need to say, not this time. I need to do this thing for myself. And so this is gonna be a no for you. And so I want you to think about how you strike that balance, how you do this in your family as your children get older.

[00:03:37] So let me continue with this quote. Let me start over with this. She says, women are socialized to put others’ needs above themselves and go the extra mile at their own expense. Yes, totally. The very same thing that makes women great achievers in education and particularly reliable at work, is also the same thing that makes them prey to saying yes in situations where [00:04:00] they don’t want to.

[00:04:01] So yes, there’s a lot of really great things to unpack with this quote. I think we are taught to go the extra mile at our own expense, which does us a disservice. I can say that from my own experience for sure, this is why I talk so much about learning how to, again, make your needs and wants a part of the mix in your family, because it helps moms to be so much healthier and happier for sure.

[00:04:28] So I do a lot of research talking to women as well as, Kind of being a fly out on the wall in conversations where I can hear what they have to say.

[00:04:40] Sometimes in written forms, sometimes I ask to interview people, and I’ll record these conversations that are sometimes a half an hour long and I’ll have those conversations transcribed so I can pull out their words. Other times what I do is I go into Facebook communities or.

[00:04:58] I’ll even read book reviews [00:05:00] online about women who have had kind of a transformational experience and the way that they talk about themselves before or after, or what their struggles are, or what their pain points are. But I just wanna share some of the things that I have come across and some of the things that I’ve heard over and over again that kind of highlights some of these themes that I feel show up a lot. So one mom says, I’m just at a very, very, very busy period of my life.

[00:05:28] So it’s really hard to sculpt at that time to do anything for myself. And this was something that I highlighted and pulled out of whatever it was that I was reading, because this was me too, for sure. My wake up call came when I realized that I always felt this way about my life. I always felt like I was in a very, very, very busy period of my life.

[00:05:51] And it might seem like that right now cuz it’s the holiday time. But it’s interesting how like you think you’re gonna get a break and then something else comes up [00:06:00] and then there’s another thing that comes up and then there’s another thing and it seems like you can’t escape. And what it reminds me of actually is I was induced with two of my pregnancies,

[00:06:10] When you’re administered Pitocin, I feel like there’s no breaks in between the contractions. there is just a contraction on top of a contraction on top of another contraction. You don’t ever get a break. And I feel like this can be our lives sometimes where it’s just, like I said, moving from one fire to the next to the next and you feel like, okay, when my kids are in college, then I’ll finally be able to be healthy or you know, do whatever it is that is on your list.

[00:06:38] And that just is not the case.

[00:06:41] I feel like that is doing us such a disservice that we are waiting sometimes for years in order to feel like we can get to things that matter to us that don’t have anything to do with our families.

[00:06:52] Okay, here’s another one. Another mom said I have trouble feeling rushed in my mom life. Like I’m spinning my kids’ activities, my [00:07:00] personal endeavors, and my relationships into a fast-paced schedule. I’m driving too fast. I’m often late and I’m always multi-tasking. I try to stay on top of things in a way that is organized and clearly laid out, but it’s just not enjoyable, and that is totally relatable to me.

[00:07:17] I feel like I’m operating as if anyone is going to be stressed out about things, I want it to be me as if I can absorb all of the rushed feelings in the family. I feel so burned out.

[00:07:31] Another mom said this, she says, this busyness was causing me to miss the very life I was striving to craft. In the spirit of gifting my kids a high quality childhood, I had forgotten that what they actually needed most was me. I think sometimes we’re so focused on doing all the things and being in all the places we end up overscheduling ourselves and forgetting that the person that our kids wanna hang out with is actually us.

[00:07:58] Now what I want you to hear me [00:08:00] say with this episode is, I’m not saying that you need to do your own thing all the time and ignore your kids . That’s not what I’m saying at all. I think we, I think there is this continuum that we need to explore for ourselves where on one end of the continuum, we can do whatever we want all the time, right?

[00:08:23] And then on the other end of the continuum, we put everybody’s needs and wants above our own. So we are last. So the continuum, either we’re first and always first, or we last and we’re always last. But what I’m asking you to think about is to find that balance for yourself somewhere on this continuum.

[00:08:42] because I think in a healthy family, no one is surviving. No one is feeling like they are drowning and taking on the lion’s share of the chores or they are getting the crumbs of the family resources. It’s so [00:09:00] important that moms learn how to make their own wants and needs a part of their family culture.

[00:09:06] And again, this is going to vary from family to family as well as the stages of life that your kids are in right now. So I feel like in a healthy relationship with your family, and there needs to be this rotation of who is playing a supportive role in making sacrifices, and who is the person that’s getting supported .

[00:09:26] And sometimes moms need to say no, or just need to say, I’m taking myself to the gym, or I’m going to get a massage right now and I’m getting a babysitter for the rest of y’all because this is what I need right now. In this space, there is room for dreams to thrive.

[00:09:48] And again, I just wanna reiterate, it’s no one else’s job to meet your needs. When we do this, we try to control other people. So what we [00:10:00] need to do is we need to voice our needs and wants and say, and this is how I’m taking care of these things.

[00:10:08] Okay, so let me just, I wanted to just kind of go through a list because I think sometimes it is hard to see signs of our own self neglect. So you might be someone who’s listening to this and like, I don’t really do that until I read this list. And you’re like, okay, yeah, I can see I have some movement here.

[00:10:28] Okay, so here are some signs of self neglect. You might be experiencing self neglect if you are burned out because you are sleep deprived and sleep deprived because you’re stressed or anxious, or you just feel like you have too much to do.. You’re not speaking up about your own opinions and you value the opinions, wants and needs of other family members more than your own. You’re overscheduling yourself so you don’t have enough free time and you’re telling yourself, I’ll just figure this [00:11:00] out. You’re saying yes to too many things and you know you’re overbooking yourself, but you’re telling yourself, I’ll just figure it out.

[00:11:07] I always do. Your emotions are frazzled. You lack laughter in your life, or you’re settling for too little joy or fun in your life. You’re spending too little time, effort, or money on your appearance, and I’m not saying that there’s a right way to do this. I think for every single person out there, they know what this means. I’m not talking about being vain, I’m talking about doing something to focus on putting your best face forward.

[00:11:38] Okay? And again, this is personal. I’m not saying there’s a right way. You’re depriving yourself of the freedom and pleasure brought by spending time in nature. This is something that I was doing forever because I, I knew I wanted to get outside, but I would tell myself I would go for a walk or a hike or something and I would never do it.

[00:11:57] You may wanna lose weight, but you don’t feel [00:12:00] like you have the time, energy, or resources to do it. , you spend little meaningful time with friends. When you’re with them, you don’t feel like you’re connecting because you’re thinking that you don’t have time for this. There’s too much to do, so you’re not focusing on the people that you’re with.

[00:12:16] You’re thinking about how you can escape or how you can get out of there so that you can get back to getting things done. You feel anxious or overwhelmed and you don’t feel like there’s a way out, and you tell yourself often you’re just gonna do this yourself. Your current finances reflect your current values.

[00:12:36] You spend money on something else for your kids, but you don’t take the time to invest in yourself and what it is that you need. Okay? Now again, this is not an exhaustive list of ways that we exemplify self neglect. But I think we need to take a look at the identities that we have as women. I think oftentimes when we’re stuck in the cycle of self neglect, [00:13:00] we feel like we’re a mom first, and everything else in our life is second.

[00:13:05] When in reality you are a human being first, and we have lots of different identities. I am a coach. a mom. am a wife. I am a daughter, and I am a sister, and I am a friend. But above all of those identities, I am a human. I am me, and I don’t need to feel bad about the things that I want or the things that I need.

[00:13:33] I think so often what happens in these different roles that we play in our lives, we often lose who we are. I think there is this cultural expectation that we need to give and be happy sacrificing the things that we want. I think, again, we need to strike a balance for ourselves in filling needs, wants, and giving. Your [00:14:00] mental health is way more important than another pair of shoes or another activity for your kids. I promise you it is. Speaking again, from the experiences that I’ve lived through in my life, I will never, ever trade my mental health for material things for my kids, or even experiences for my kids because I know how valuable my mental and emotional health is. Okay, so how do we combat this self neglect? What are some of the things that we can do right now if you’re feeling like, oh my gosh, this totally resonates with me.

[00:14:36] What are some of the things that we can do right now? Okay, so the first thing that I suggest is take a look at your finances. I want you to get really clear where you are allocating your financial resources as a family. I think this is just a really great place to start because it may be really eyeopening for you.

[00:14:55] You might realize from the family budget or the way that [00:15:00] you see how you’re spending money, that there is one piece of the pie for your kids’ stuff that is way bigger than the money or the resources that you’re allocating for your own needs and self care and all of those things. So after looking at that, you might make some adjustments and you might need to say no to your kids, which might be kind of tricky, particularly if they’re used to hearing yes from you a lot.

[00:15:27] If you’re feeling like you don’t wanna say no to your kids because of guilt, you can clean all of that stuff up. Okay? The second thing is you need to give yourself permission to dream. Okay. This is something that I talk about a lot on the podcast cuz again, this is something that really changed my life when I realized that I could pursue something that was completely outside of my family that had nothing to do with them or so I thought.

[00:15:56] And the interesting thing is I realized over time that when I invest in [00:16:00] myself, even if it’s just doing something for me that I love, I end up showing up in such a healthier mental and emotional state for everyone else because my bucket has been filled outside of the family.

[00:16:14] So yes, give yourself permission to dream. So my example of this is when I was listening to someone talk about dreams and things. It was actually at a homeschool conference and I’m like, what are you talking about? Like I have no time for that. I have four kids that I’m homeschooling , and the person was just encouraging us to write down dreams on a piece of paper.

[00:16:39] And I remember writing down, I would love to be a yoga teacher, and I kind of felt guilty for saying that. I’m like, when am I ever gonna find time to do that?

[00:16:48] And so I kind of talked myself out of it, but over time I realized, but what if I could, like what if I could make that work and what if I could make that happen and teach yoga on the side [00:17:00] because I love it and because it would be so fun to be able to do that.

[00:17:05] Okay. The next thing that I have, if you feel like you are somebody who has been glorifying your own self neglect, is to start by keeping your space really clean and tidy. So you wanna get rid of to do stacks of papers that you’re gonna get to someday. That day is today or sometime this week. You wanna get rid of clutter, you wanna get rid of old clothes, you want to methodically go through the house.

[00:17:33] And I understand that for some of you, this might be kind of at a surface level at first, or you’re just methodically going through and kind of taking a deep dive in different rooms in the house and giving yourself four to six months to do this. But you want to start somewhere. You want to start keeping your space clean and tidy.

[00:17:51] This is such a wonderful way to improve your self care. I think organizing is such a great way to take good [00:18:00] care of yourself because you’re honoring your space. You’re honoring the space that you dwell in, and I think that’s a really big deal. Okay. The next thing is you wanna take a little bit of time to identify ways your self neglect needs some attention. So where is it taking its toll? And I want you to just write down whatever comes to mind. It might be your health, it might be your finances, it might be your space, like I just was mentioning, the space that you live in, and I want you to choose one of those items and I want you to make a plan to work on it.

[00:18:35] Make an investment if you need to in your wellbeing in that space. So you might be hiring a personal trainer or taking a plant-based nutrition class or something. I mean, do something that’s going to help you take better care of yourself based off of this list of where you’re identifying ways that your self neglect needs some attention.

[00:18:58] Okay? The next thing is to make an [00:19:00] effort in your appearance. Now, you don’t have to go out and buy anything new unless you want to, but take a shower, my friends, put on some makeup, put on a bra. Okay. Doing these things helps you to feel better, and I know, again, I’m speaking from my own experience here, but for me, when I was depressed and anxious and feeling super overwhelmed, I just had to say, okay, every day you’re going to put on some mascara, you’re gonna put on a bra and a clean t-shirt and that just helped me to feel so much better. I kind of felt ready for my day and ready for whatever was gonna come up instead of staying in that reactive slump that I was in. Okay, so make an effort in your appearance. It does make a difference. And the last thing that I’m gonna tell you, this is something that I advocate for all the time, , is to schedule your downtime.

[00:19:55] Again, this is something that you need to advocate [00:20:00] for for yourself. No one else is gonna do this for you most likely. Even though my husband loves me so much, and he was somebody who would have wanted to gift me the things that I needed, he didn’t know what those things were. He didn’t know what it was that I wanted or what it was that I needed.

[00:20:18] I had to say that, and I had to make time for that myself. No one else was gonna do that for me. It used to seem silly to me to schedule a bath on my calendar or even a restorative yoga class with my husband over the weekend. But the truth is, is if it’s not scheduled for me, it doesn’t happen.

[00:20:36] And I know that that might sound kind of crazy, but I’m the kind of person on Friday night that I’m like, well, what are we doing? . Even though I love taking baths, I love reading my book. I love having a movie night. I love doing restorative classes, like all those things, but for some reason all of that just goes right out my head on Friday night.

[00:20:56] I know I am somebody that needs those things on my calendar, otherwise [00:21:00] I end up doing something else. And it might not seem as spontaneous for sure, and it’s not, but it doesn’t need to be in order for it to be effective.

[00:21:10] And that’s what I’m going for. I want that time, that downtime, that self care time, to be something that is really effective. And I find that if I don’t have anything scheduled, what I end up doing is not very effective. I end up watching a show on my phone, or I end doing something that is not as nourishing to me as taking a bath or doing a restorative yoga class.

[00:21:33] So schedule that. Schedule it on your calendar. All right. That is what I have for you guys today, my friends. I hope that this podcast episode was one that you enjoyed. I hope that it made a difference for you. I hope that it started to get the wheels turning on ways that you can stop glorifying self neglect and finding that balance in your life to help you feel more energized and alive.

[00:21:59] All right, you guys [00:22:00] have a beautiful rest of your week. We’ll talk to you guys soon. See ya.