Self Care

3 Self-Care Tips for People-Pleasers

Self Care Tips | Hopeful Panda

Self-care isn’t easy, especially for those of us who had abusive parents. We were taught to NOT care about ourselves. Our childhood abuse programmed us to be people-pleasers and selfless caretakers. So the idea of self-care seems to go against what we learned. A recent dilemma I’ve had regarding self-care inspired me to write this post of self-care tips for others like me.

If you had abusive parents growing up, you likely learned that you’re not important. Or that you must spend every waking moment pleasing your parents. Practicing any type of self-care probably sounds unnatural or foreign to you.

For you people-pleasers out there, this post will discuss a few self-care tips that can hopefully motivate or inspire you to take care of yourself a little more.

Self-Care Doesn’t Have To Be About Putting Yourself First

The hardest thing about self-care for people pleasers, I think, is the idea of needing to put yourself first. While that is usually the definition of self-care, it’s not something you have to do.

Okay, so what you’re about to read probably counteracts everything you’ve learned or heard so far about self-care. So pardon me if this seems contradictory or like it makes no sense.

Self-care DOESN’T have to be about putting yourself first. Ideally, it is. But for many people, especially those of us who experienced abuse, it is very hard putting ourselves first.

Humans are naturally selfish (to an extent). But we were raised to be anything but.

Being selfish or even simply meeting our needs used to be punishable offenses. It used to warrant beatings or insults to our self-worth.

We were taught to put our parents’ needs first. We were raised to be parent-pleasers, which eventually transitioned into people-pleasers.

As people-pleasers, we “naturally” strive to please everyone else but ourselves. With years of learning how to NOT take care of ourselves, it only makes sense that self-care itself is actually super difficult to do.

Sure, you can try to take care of yourself. That’s doable. But it isn’t easy. And it requires much more effort compared to other people. So what can you do about that?

Self-Care Tips for People-Pleasers & Other Abuse Survivors

The answer? Practice self-care for other people.

That’s right, you didn’t misread. The trick to practicing self-care for people pleasers is to, well, do it for other people.

I know self-care and healing should be all about self-love. I’m aware of that and I’m sure you are, too. You’ve probably heard it a bunch of times. I know I say it a bunch of times in my other posts.

It’s easy to tell yourself or others to simply take care of yourself. Go to the doctor when you need to. Eat healthily. Exercise. Do things you enjoy. Meet your needs. You know, practice some self-care!

All of that sounds easy in theory. But for those of us who were, once again, programmed NOT to take care of ourselves, it’s difficult. Self-care goes against everything we were ever taught. It goes against what we believe or know.

We don’t think we deserve the best. We don’t think our needs are important. So to start doing that is HARD. And we still have to go through all the work of healing and processing our trauma. Self-care is just extra homework piled on top.

I’ve heard people complaining about how self-care can be so much work. And they’re just tired of trying to care for themselves while also trying to just function in their daily lives. They find self-care to be a chore or even mentally exhausting.

So yeah, self-care can be a pain sometimes, especially if it’s not something you’re used to. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of yourself. In fact, it’s even more reason to.

If you’re a people-pleaser or selfless caretaker, the point of this post is to provide some simple tips to make practicing self-care more “natural” to you. So here are the 3 self-care tips I use to convince myself to take better care of myself. I hope it can be helpful to you.

1. If you will do it for someone else, do it for yourself

When it comes to you, you’re probably used to putting yourself on the back burner. You might be so used to being mistreated that you don’t know how to treat yourself better. However, you likely treat other people really well, especially your loved ones.

So try to think about it like this: Whenever you are struggling with taking care of yourself, think about someone you care about. Imagine that you are them.

I was struggling with a medical issue before and needed to pay for a procedure that can possibly help. But because of the cost, I didn’t want to do it. But I knew I needed to especially when my husband kept saying I do. So I tried to convince myself.

If my husband or my child was the one that needed this procedure, I’ll pay for it with no hesitation. The cost wouldn’t matter (as long as we can afford it) because to me, their health and well-being are worth so much more. But because it was me, I didn’t think I was worthy. I didn’t think my health or well-being was worth the cost we were going to put into it.

But after reframing my perspective, I felt a little more okay with getting the procedure. If I’m willing to do it for the people I care about, I should be willing to do it for myself. I can’t be a hypocrite now, can I?

Besides, health is so important. Just trying to save some money now by ignoring my current needs will likely cost more in the long run. The issues will get worse, and at some point, I might just end up having to pay even more. Or worse, I might become a burden to my family who might have to take care of me.

And this leads to the next point.

2. Take care of yourself so someone else doesn’t have to

So this mindset probably isn’t what self-care enthusiasts or mental health professionals want you to have. That’s because the ultimate goal is to, well, take care of yourself for yourself. But that isn’t the point here.

I want you to take care of yourself. And I bet you do, too. So if doing it this way helps, I don’t see the problem with it.

Similar to my situation, I’ve spoken with another abuse survivor before who had trouble going to the doctor when they need to. They don’t think they are worth the trouble. They said their partner has been worried about them and pushing them to go.

So this is what I told them: How about this? Don’t do it for yourself. Do it for your partner. They are worried about you. Why not ease those worries? If you start taking care of yourself, you’ll be less of a burden to your partner. You care about them, right?

I know this sounds manipulative. And it kind of is. But if it ultimately gets you the care you need, then it’s not a harmful form of manipulation. This is simply reframing how you look at the situation.

Rather than seeing how you’re not worth the effort or money in self-care, why not see how your self-care can burden your loved ones less? Take care of yourself so they don’t have to.

We’re used to trying to be less of a burden for our parents. So we can use what we’ve learned and apply it to this situation, even if our parents are no longer in our life.

Who are we trying to please now? How can taking care of ourselves be seen as pleasing them as well?

3. Try to be happy and thrive for someone else

Your happiness and well-being are important. Even if it isn’t important to you, it is important to the people who care about you.

When someone cares about you, your happiness makes them happy. And I hope their happiness makes you happy, too. That’s the beautiful thing about love that I learned when I finally met someone who cares about me.

Someone else’s care and love for you can motivate you to care about yourself. They want you to take care of yourself and be happy. They want you to thrive.

This is not to say that you’re a disappointment if you aren’t happy or thriving. Happiness can’t be forced. It’s not something you can just magically summon. However, you can try to be happy (as long as you don’t reach levels of toxic positivity).

Try to live and see life through a grateful lens. Notice the good you have in your life. Do things you enjoy. Spend time with your loved ones. Savor the moments you have together. Try to have fun!

Many abuse survivors struggle with depression. They have trouble finding pleasure in various activities. Or they struggle with seeing the positives in life. These are common effects of childhood abuse.

So this won’t be easy. But at least try to put yourself in situations where happiness could be possible. Of course, you should do it for yourself. But if you can’t, try to do it for someone you care about.

Conclusion

These self-care tips work for me to take better care of myself or, at least, make it a little easier to try. However, it might not necessarily work for you.

If it helps, don’t think of it as self-care. Think of it as just caring for someone else, which you’ve probably been doing all this time anyway.

Seeing yourself as another person or seeing how taking care of yourself is like taking care of someone else can be helpful in motivating you to practice some self-care.

Some might argue this isn’t technically self-care. But hey, if it reaches the same goal – having you take care of yourself – then what’s the issue?

However, it IS an issue when your self-care is no longer “self-care”.

Recognize that if your loved ones truly care about you, they would WANT you to take care of yourself. They would WANT you to be healthy, well, and happy.

Practicing self-care using the tips here is about fulfilling these specific “wants” (meant to benefit you). It is NOT about sacrificing yourself for the sake of others. At that point, it’s no longer self-care.

If you disagree with anything or everything I’ve said, that’s totally okay and completely valid. Again, these self-care tips may work for me, but they won’t work for everyone. And just because I find it helpful and okay might not mean others agree.

These were just a few tricks I try to use to convince myself to take better care of myself.

I hope these tips can help you. And I hope it can eventually evolve to you practicing self-care for yourself. But till then, I think doing it this way is okay, too. But in the end, it’s completely up to you.

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Hi there, I’m Estee. Having grown up with an abusive mother, I know how isolating, frustrating, and hopeless everything could feel – back then as a child and even now as an adult.

I am always trying to better understand and manage the effects of the abuse I experienced. And this journey I’m on inspired me to create Hopeful Panda. Learn more here.

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