If you don’t prioritize yourself, you are saying, “I don’t matter.” Neglecting self-care means you have no self-worth. That is never true for anybody. Have people said, “Please take care of yourself?” Do you roll your eyes at that?
Don’t roll your eyes at that! Your mental health matters, which means you matter. In order to begin believing that, you MUST prioritize yourself. As the saying goes, that’s easy to say, but hard to do for many.
There are many reasons it is hard to practice self-care and prioritize yourself. I’ll focus on the two main reasons you neglect self-care.
2 Reasons You Neglect Self-Care:
- You have a negative false belief that screams, “I don’t matter.”
- You don’t realize you aren’t taking care of yourself.
Belief of “I don’t matter”
Let’s take a deeper dive into each reason you don’t prioritize yourself. The first reason usually comes from your parents/caregivers.
I could go on for days and days on this topic, but I’ll try to be brief. As I write about so often, you weren’t taught that you matter. That results in a huge pile of Not Good Enough Stuff, which is that negative self-talk that constantly plays in your head.
If you want to learn more about what Not Good Enough Stuff is, click here to read my post Not Good Enough Stuff Explanation for Souls Searching Peace. So, the question now begs to be asked, “If I wasn’t taught that I matter, then what was I taught?”
For most people, your parents/caregivers didn’t know how to take care of themselves. Their own Not Good Enough Stuff was put on them by their parents/caregivers. That results in the continuation of the generational cycles with nobody knowing how to take care of themselves.
Let’s answer the question I mentioned of “What was I taught then?” Not being taught to prioritize yourself or parents/caregivers not prioritizing you, creates a belief that you’re not important. That is what you were taught.
Your belief, “I don’t matter,” creates behaviors to reflect that negative false belief. All of our behaviors stem from a conscious or subconscious belief about ourselves.
How You Learned, “I don’t matter”
You may be wondering what that might look like for somebody. I will use myself as an example here because I was never taught that you should prioritize yourself. Not only that, but I was rarely prioritized as a child. Due to that, I was taught and shown that I don’t matter.
I never saw either of my parents take care of themselves in a healthy way. What I did see was my father drinking all of his pain away that led to his early death.
For my mom, I saw avoidance of reality. She would keep herself busy and shove everything “under the rug.” I’ll talk more about that later because it’s very common for lots of people to have a parent like that.
As a young child, I saw my father sleeping a lot. I now know that was depression. It seemed to me that if my dad was not sleeping, he was out on his boat. Now, you might first think that was self-care as he enjoyed being on the water.
However, it was far from self-care. It was a way for him to escape his life that seemed so miserable. Somehow, I always knew it wasn’t self-care before I even knew what self-care was as a child. I just knew that when he came home from being on the boat, that we should avoid him.
That was because he would be really drunk, and we never knew what might happen if he got mad. I think the reason he did a lot of his drinking on the boat or while being out for very long drives was to hide what he was doing from us.
Now, as a little girl, my mind created a very different reason that my dad would stay gone all day on his boat. I decided that he didn’t care about me and that I wasn’t important. As an adult, I know that was far from the truth. He was struggling severely with depression and alcoholism.
My dad was hardly around us. If he wasn’t on the boat or on a long drive calling it work, he was in the bedroom alone. That just furthered my sweet little mind’s belief that he didn’t want to be around me because, “I don’t matter.”
More Ways You are Taught You Don’t Matter
As for my mom who avoided reality and shoved everything “under the rug,” that too resulted in my belief that I don’t matter. My mom downplayed the times of violence from my dad’s drinking.
Not only that, but we also knew we were never supposed to talk about it. For a little girl, those times were incredibly traumatic. However, when I was shown and told that it was not a traumatic event, I began to drown with all of my feelings related to the violent events.
I remember thinking that there was something wrong with me for being scared or sad about things I witnessed. I can still hear my mom so clearly when I told her that I was depressed as a very young teen.
Her response was, “Just get over it. You have a good life and you are choosing to be depressed.” Oh, how I wish it had been that easy. I also wish that I had had that “good life” she continued to tell us we had.
I don’t fault my mom or dad for the behaviors and the emotional pain they caused. I now know they were never taught how to take care of themselves in a healthy way.
That’s the reason we have so many people who don’t know how to practice self-care or lack positive self-esteem. We have generations of people who were not taught anything about their emotional health. If you had parents similar to mine, read my post about Emotionally Unavailable Parents: 5 Steps to Heal.
Before I discuss the second reason you don’t prioritize yourself, I want to look at the behaviors I mentioned that come from the belief, “I don’t matter.” There are endless behaviors that can result from that.
As with most things, I will give you examples from myself and my experience as a psychotherapist. My behaviors vacillated between isolating myself or acting out in order to get attention. Those behaviors followed me right on into adulthood until I began my healing journey.
Some other common behaviors are trying to be perfect at everything in order to be noticed and failing at everything to get noticed or to prove nobody cares if you fail. Another common behavior is people-pleasing. You may want to do anything you can to make others happy in hopes they will see that you matter.
If you relate to any of these behaviors, just know that you can heal from this. It is not impossible. You do not have to continue living in misery.
Another Reason You Don’t Prioritize Yourself
Now, let’s look at the second reason you don’t prioritize yourself. You have no awareness that you are lacking when it comes to self-care. Why is that?
It can be both conscious and subconscious. You may consciously do everything to take care of others and feel as though that is how you take care of yourself. It feels good to be needed or valued by taking care of others. If this is you, click here to read my post on the Over-Worked Rescuer.
Just trust me, always taking care of others is NOT how you prioritize yourself! You matter just as much as everybody else, but you just don’t believe that. Hence, your behavior of neglecting yourself to take care of everybody else.
The subconscious ways you don’t prioritize yourself are a little harder to find. This can be not going to the doctor for check-ups, not eating well, not exercising or anything else you do to keep yourself from being healthy emotionally and physically.
If you have a belief that, “I don’t matter,” everything in your life will reflect that. Again, those behaviors are both conscious and subconscious.
More than likely you related to both of the reasons you don’t prioritize yourself. It is incredibly hard to overcome those reasons because they have been with you your entire life.
However, you have a choice. You can’t say that you aren’t aware now that your behaviors are stemming from a belief that you don’t matter or that you don’t realize you aren’t taking care of yourself.
How to Prioritize Yourself
If you have read this far, then you can’t plead ignorance anymore. So, what can you do if you aren’t taking care of yourself because of the two reasons I mentioned?
You can begin finding ways to prove to yourself that you matter. The most important step is to prioritize yourself. That might be a foreign idea since you have never done it and were never taught how to do it.
Self-care is the answer for how to do that. There are many different ways to practice self-care. So, don’t be intimidated by it. If you want to learn more about self-care, click here to read my post, What is Self-Care.
Are you thinking about how busy your life is and that you can’t possibly find the time for self-care? Well, then you need to read my post, 4 Ways of Creating Time for Self-Care Ideas. Just know that self-care does not have to be grand or time-consuming.
Just because somebody taught or showed you that you don’t matter, does not mean that it’s true. It simply means that they didn’t think they mattered. So, they just passed that right on over to you. You’re the only one who can change and heal that for yourself, though.
Please Take Care of Yourself
If you have children, please take care of yourself! If you do that, you are teaching your children that you matter. When that happens, they learn that they must also matter. I don’t have to tell you that children model what they are shown.
You have the ability to stop the generational patterns in your family that teach family members they don’t matter. I am begging you to do this! Your children and every generation after them need you to heal and prioritize yourself.
So, if you are stuck in believing, “I don’t matter,” do your work for your children at least. At some point your belief will change and you will be able to start believing that you matter. Once that belief starts showing up, your behaviors will begin to match it.
There are still times that my old belief, “I don’t matter,” sneaks up on me. That is normal as I spent the majority of my life with that belief. I just have to challenge that belief and look at all the ways that my true soul knows that I matter.
Those ways are endless when I really sit and think about that. I’m not special in that area. You too have endless ways that you matter. You just have to do some exploring to find them.
For me, that exploring began with going to a licensed therapist. It is hard to begin this work alone. A licensed therapist can help guide you and give you support as you begin digging into that false belief that you don’t matter.
So please take care of yourself. You matter. Your mental health matters. Your physical health matters. Your life matters. The world needs you. It needs more people believing they matter!
Just imagine how different our world would be if everybody believed that they mattered. That goal is a bit lofty and way out of my hands.
For now, I am just hoping that you are reading this and seeing your own need to change your beliefs and behaviors connected to not believing you are important or that you matter.
Those of you who are already working on this, don’t stop doing your work. It gets better. I promise. It is always worth it.
I always tell my clients that, if, for some crazy reason, I woke up one day and all of the work I’d done on myself was gone, I’d call up a licensed therapist and start my journey all over again.
I would not like it one bit, but I know the value in doing that work. I know the beautiful, peaceful way of living that comes as a result. My hope is that you get to know that too.
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This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.