There was once a woman who said quite consistently that she didn’t have time for herself. You could see that she was running on zero — running on empty — but she would say,
“I don’t have time for myself. There are so many things I have to do. There are so many places I have to be, daily. There are so many things I have to be, and so many roles I have to play. There’s no time left for me to do anything for myself. I just don’t have time for that.”
I’m sure you can imagine that this left her feeling burnt out, frustrated, and secretly resentful of her responsibilities and the people around her. It wasn’t a good thing.
You could hear the depths of frustration in her voice — it was thick and it was heavy. And it was clear that her problem was more than the circumstances she found herself in, and it was more than her responsibilities.
It would’ve been really easy to give her the usual advice that you and I already know such as:
- ‘Everyone has 24 hours in a day. Allah, in His infinite wisdom, gave us exactly 24 hours — not more, not less — and nobody has more or less time than anyone else; and there are still people who use their time, get things done, and take care of themselves despite their responsibilities and what they need to do.’
- ‘You need to craft time for yourself. Nobody is going to hand it to you on a platter; you need to create it.’
- ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup. When you want to give to others you need to be giving from a full cup, and that full cup requires that you fill it first for yourself.’
Here’s the thing about those three pieces of advice: She already knows them. She knows everyone has 24 hours a day. She knows she can’t pour from an empty cup and that what she’s giving is lacking. She also knows that no one can craft time for her except herself. She knows these things, so they aren’t new pieces of information or new news. The problem and the issue is actually much deeper.
When we’re thinking about looking after ourselves and making time for ourselves, often it comes under the label of self-care. And when we’re thinking and reading about self-care, you’ll find the common pattern of it being about things that you can do: taking a bath; going to get a manicure or pedicure; going to get your hair done; going for a walk; going to a café — things you can do for yourself.
The thing is, self-care is less about things you can do for yourself, and more about how you feel about, how you see, and how you think about yourself. The moment you think about yourself, feel about yourself, and see yourself in a less than positive light, you then become less of a priority in your own life, and then there is less time for you, your needs, and your self-care.
So, rather than thinking about all the things that you want to do, how about thinking about how you see yourself? How much do you care about yourself, truly? Be honest, here. How much do you believe that you truly do matter? And do you even believe that you do matter?
When someone finds it a challenge or a struggle to craft time for themselves, it’s really just a symptom — a symptom of underlying beliefs they have about themselves.
The curious thing about this is that even when someone has the perfect conditions — they have all the time in the world; they’re a lady of leisure; they have time for themselves in the day — they’ll still find it a challenge to craft time for them to fill up their cup because their belief is driving their behaviour. That belief that they don’t really matter. They’ll simply busy themselves with something else completely unrelated to their self-care.
If you’re one of those women who’s struggling with crafting time for yourself and doing things that fill your cup or bring you joy, it’s really about stripping back those layers. Rather than thinking about all the things you could do, or lamenting about how you don’t have any time, I invite you to ask yourself:
- What do I believe about myself?
- How much do I care about myself?
- And how much do I believe that I matter?
I’d love to hear from you!
What thoughts and beliefs do you have about yourself that stop you from prioritising your self-care? Share your thoughts by commenting below.