So, I might get on a soapbox here.

Since when is self-care selfish? Why is investing in yourself so that you are whole, happy, and in love with your life self-centered? The idea that it is both good and admirable to suffer so that you can give to others is martyrdom. And useless, in my opinion. We see it everywhere - in men and women - but women tend to do the heavy lifting of nurturing and giving to others, often to the exclusion of self.

Then one day you wake up and part of you has gotten buried so deeply in the details and responsibilities of every day life that you almost don't recognize yourself. Often, it's subtle, a feeling that something is "off" or you're not complete. You know something is missing.

Sometimes, you get resentful (so how is that good for humanity?). Sometimes you get depressed (how much nurturing can you do when you're depressed?). Sometimes you get divorced, quit your job unexpectedly, or start yelling at your kids more. Or, you do nothing, and continue to feel this general sense of, "I feel like there should be more."

Then, there is the side effect to wanting more: Guilt.

You feel guilty because you're not supposed to want more.

There's a voice inside that says, "You know, you have a lot of good in your life and are essentially pretty happy. You shouldn't want more. You should be happy with what you have." And you bury a bit of yourself more and more each passing year, forgetting your dreams and covering them with "shoulds" and obligations. All too often, you're also stressed out, sleep-deprived, unhappy with your health and/or body (maybe you're not even taking care of it because you're too busy). "But still," you hear yourself say, "there are others who have so much less."

This is true. But are those who have less benefiting from you self-sacrificing, being less than you want to be or having less than you want to have? When you are as happy as you can possibly be, you spread that to others. You give more because you're not depleted. When we nurture ourselves and "up-vibrate" our lives, there is simply more in the world to celebrate.

It's not like there's a limit to how much love and happiness there can be in the world. In fact, the more you have, the more you spread, and the abundance is multiplied. Why is suffering or martyring oneself better?

Our culture breeds this ~ S/he who suffers most wins the prize.

Don't get me wrong. I love nurturing and caring for others. A lot! Giving to others is absolutely a celebration of life, and the happier and more successful you are, the more you have to give to others. It's the martyrdom that I object to. And, self-sacrifice sets an example to those around you and is of a very low vibration. And then you attract more of that.

To be clear, you can be pretty happy and still want more. And it is helpful to love what is, so that you can stay in that vibration of love and abundance. (It's a matter of focus.) And you can still have more of what you want. They are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the more you embrace where you are, the better you can see your goals more clearly and feel confident that the next steps are do-able and exciting.

As I always say, put the oxygen mask on yourself first.

So, to close, if there is no separation between divine and self, then owning your divinity is part of loving yourself... and spreading divine love starts with loving yourself. Feeding your soul, hearing your soul's calling, is your divine obligation because you are here to serve those who need your special gifts. It is when there are unresolved issues, pain, and separation that you actually withhold or simply don't have the overflow to share those gifts.

It is the taking care of the divine vehicle of the body and self that fills your lamp with oil so that you can light the world ever more brightly.

SO, my friends, listen to your soul's calling - and answer the damned phone!

Author's Bio: 

Teresa M. Goetz is a Transformational and Spiritual Coach, Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist, who has spent her career helping women realize their potential at all stages of life. Her work has paralleled her own personal experiences and includes specialized work in all women's major life stages, including pregnancy, child birth, parenthood/ mothering, partnership/ marriage, divorce, and middle life.

Teri gets enormous satisfaction from watching women grow into who they truly are meant to be. She creates and holds a safe space for her clients so that they may turn personal crises, like divorce, into defining moments to transform their lives. She helps women achieve clarity and confidence, and then breathe fresh air into their futures.

Teri speaks and writes about women's issues and health, works with clients one-on-one and offers workshops for women.

She is the mother of 2 daughters, step mother to a son and daughter, and married to a wonderful man!