Sometimes I'm Not There for Everyone... Because I Need Me Too

Sometimes I'm Not There for Everyone... Because I Need Me Too
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Sometimes I’m not there for someone because I need me too. I need to listen to myself, put together my broken pieces, smooth out my rough edges.

So if I don’t reply or if I put my phone on silent for a few hours or a few days, it doesn’t mean I’ve dropped off the face of the earth. I just decided to go for a walk with myself, someone I had long neglected.

It’s funny how we end up putting ourselves in our “spam” folder— and we hardly even notice it. We relegate ourselves to the drawer of unfinished business, the last page of our agenda, or the little post-it note that gets lost in the mess of our desk. There’s always something more important.

“There are three extremely hard things: steel, diamonds and knowing oneself.”

-Benjamin Franklin-

We live in a tremendously demanding and competitive world, that much we all know. There is so much to do, and our days are hectic and exhausting. And as if that weren’t enough, we now also have constant, immediate communication at our fingertips.

We live on social media, we are always reachable, it seems like there’s always a message to reply to, an email to check, and photos to like — even if we don’t feel like it.

It’s like we’re able to see everything except what’s right in front of our eyes. Our tired eyes can read the needs of others but are unable to decipher our own… Everything is blurry, everything got all tangled up in our heart and mind and something doesn’t feel right and we don’t know what it is…

a woman being tortured, realizing that I need me

You’ve reached your limit and you don’t know it yet

People need you and you know it. Every day you have ten mountains to climb, and you manage it, true. However, nobody gives you medals for it, almost nobody appreciates your dedication or all the things you sacrifice for those around you.

Little by little, things lose their meaning and people lose their attraction. The world no longer has music, it no longer rhymes, the magic goes away, and you sink under your own responsibilities like a stone in a bottomless well.

Being there for everyone every hour, every day has a secretly rising cost. This kind of stress can have serious consequences, even depression:

  • Fatigue, an extreme tiredness that sometimes does not improve with sleep.
  • Headaches, migraines.
  • Back pain.
  • Poor digestion.
  • Feeling of constant boredom, you lose almost all interest in life.
  • Impatience and irritability.
  • Frustration, cynicism, apathy, a constant bad mood…

As ironic as it may seem, living in such a hyper-stimulated and hyper-demanding environment ends up numbing us. We become insensitive to our own needs, strangers to our own heart and castaways on that island of Circe where we’ve completely forgotten where our home is.

a man in a whirlwind with kites flying behind him

Today I’m not there for anyone else, today I need me.

Saying out loud “right now I’m not there for anyone else, I need me” is not selfish. It doesn’t hurt anyone, nothing is neglected, the world will keep turning. However, something wonderful WILL happen: we will open the door to emotional healing. We will give ourselves the gift of time and a space of our own. A refuge.

It will be like crawling into the hollow of a tree to get in touch with our roots, where we rediscover ourselves almost in a fetal position, to nourish ourselves and to allow our leaves, our beautiful branches, to grow tall and free. To touch the sky.

Here are some ideas to think about. They can help you get there.

“We only become what we are based on the total and profound rejection of what others have made us.”

– Jean-Paul Sartre-

a cartoon of a man taking control

How to take control and take care of myself when “I need me”

In a world where we feel like prisoners to our obligations, there should be a space, a small, comfortable, special place that belongs to us alone. It’s like your lifeboat when you feel like you’re drowning.

  • When you sense external pressures preventing you from being yourself, stop and visualize your lifeboat: get into it.
  • It’s time to draw up a rescue plan. Benjamin Franklin used to say that “if in our daily lives we do not have a survival plan we are doomed to sail forever adrift.”
  • That survival plan should have a goal and priorities (Today my goal is to get through work. My goal is not to get stressed and my plan includes two hours for myself. Getting along well with colleagues or relatives is secondary today).

To conclude we must be very clear that there will be days when our total and absolute priority will be ourselves. Making this clear to our loved ones is in no way selfishness.

Turning off your cell phone, going outside for a walk, breathing and finding refuge in our own thoughts is an act of true mental health. Because whether we believe it or not, paying attention when “I need me”, writing my own name on my list of priorities, is much more than merely advisable, it is MANDATORY.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.