Why Am I So Bad At Taking Care of Myself? (9 Reasons Why)

Woman who is bad at taking care of herself is applying a face mask on herself with her hair in a towel

Confession time. It wasn’t too long ago that I wasn’t just bad at taking care of myself—I was failing spectacularly at it. If you don’t know my story, a few years ago I was burned out, miserable, and trapped in a high-stress career–one that I was put on stress leave from when the overwhelm became so bad that I was having panic attacks.  

It wasn’t until one of my first therapy sessions where my therapist asked what I had been doing to take care of myself—and I couldn’t come up with a single example—that I realized something desperately needed to change in my life. 

In this post we will go over 10 reasons why you could be bad at taking care of yourself and what you can do to fix it. 

Why are you bad at self-care?  

1) You don’t even know you need to do it 

It wasn’t until recently that true self-care started to get taught in schools, but even currently it isn’t a part of every school curriculum out there.

Sure, some of us are taught about how to maintain or improve our physical health. Things like eating healthier and exercising are taught to us when we are in elementary school now, but there are so many more areas of self-care than just taking care of our bodies that are never brought up.

Without the knowledge that we should be doing these things, it makes it hard for people to change. 

2) You don’t know how 

Once we finally learn that there are all these things we should be doing to take better care of ourselves, it can be confusing to know where to go from there or where to start. Luckily, since the pandemic, the topic of self-care has become more popular and there are more resources and tools than ever out there. (Including this one!)

3) You are burned out 

If you have ever truly experienced burnout, or are currently on your way to burnout, you know how impossible it can be to get any task at all done, let alone the thought of also doing any self-care activities. When you are in survival mode the only thing that matters is getting from one moment to the next—and you need to know that is okay.

It is totally understandable why taking care of yourself may get neglected and end up at the bottom of your list of priorities, but it can’t stay there forever. It is very important to get out of survival mode, and back to an okay place where you can start taking better care of yourself—because you matter! 

4) You don’t love yourself 

This post is about to be jam-packed full of honesty.

Self-love is something that a lot of us struggle with, especially in this age of social media and celebrity, when everyone is busy comparing themselves to the best (filtered and heavily edited) photographs of other people. That unrealistic comparison can be enough to give even the strongest people self-esteem issues if they aren’t careful. But when you strengthen the love you have for yourself, it becomes more difficult to shake it. However, again this isn’t something that is taught to most people—how to really love yourself. If you don’t love yourself why would taking care of yourself e a priority for you? 

5) You think it’s selfish 

There are still people out there with the old-school mentality that self-care and self-love are selfish. When you don’t truly understand what either of those terms mean, it can be easy to assume that they mean caring only about yourself and no one else. We are taught that not putting other people before ourselves is selfish and rude.

However, in order to truly care for others in the way that they deserve we need to care for ourselves first.  

6) You have unrealistic ideas about what it is 

Those of us that have heard of self-care may not truly understand what it means. A lot of the suggestions, resources and tools I see talk a lot about yoga, meditation and hiking, and while those are all valid self-care activities and they can be great for people—they might not be right for everyone.

Talking about needing to take long hikes daily in nature to someone who lives in a busy city isn’t going to be the best fit. And yoga and meditation are definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. But self-care is about finding the right activities that work for you—not trying to force yourself to do the activities. 

7) You think it will be a quick fix 

Spoiler alert—self-care isn’t a quick fix for all your problems. Sometimes we can try an activity thinking it is going to instantly going to make us feel 100% better and fix all of life’s problems. And unfortunately, that is realistic. Self-care is like medicine—it will take some time and practice for the cure to start to work it’s magic. 

8) You wait for motivation 

When you aren’t used to doing something, and you already don’t have a lot of energy because of stress, or maybe because you aren’t taking the best care of yourself, it can be easy to procrastinate and say you will do it when you feel like it, or have more energy.

But what if that burst of energy doesn’t come? Are you willing to go the rest of your life waiting for things to change, or are you ready to make them happen? If you find you are waiting for the right time—it isn’t going to come. You just have to close your eyes and jump in with both feet.  

9) You mistake self-indulgence for self-care 

While they can be similar, they are not the same. Self-indulgence is doing something for instant gratification without thinking about anything or anyone else, usually something that is not good for us. Self care is doing something because it meets our needs and will help us. It will have a positive, lasting effect on us. 

[Check out our post on self care vs self indulgence for more on this topic]

So now you know some reasons that you might be bad at taking care of yourself, but is there something you can do to fix it?  

How can I get better at taking care of myself? 

1) Do your research 

When you find out the most you can about an important topic like self-care, it makes it easier to make the best decisions for you. Finding out what exactly it is, what your own unique needs are, getting to know yourself better, and compiling lists of all the different activities you could start including in your regular routines will help. 

2) Try new things 

When you start trying some of the things you haven’t been doing, but might actually find new things that you really enjoy and that are great additions to your life. Maybe you don’t love hiking, but a local spin class turns out to be right up your alley. Saying daily affirmations might make you cringe, but journaling could be just your thing. When we are too afraid to try new things, or too stuck in our old ways, we never know what we could be missing out on. 

3) Start small 

There are hundreds if not thousands of ways we could take better care of ourselves. All of it can get extremely overwhelming if we let it.

Starting small will help so we don’t start to stress ourselves out and then just stop trying because we instantly burn ourselves out on self-care. 

4) Surround yourself with positivity and motivation 

Our environments influence us more than we might think they do. When we surround ourselves with negative energy and people that maybe are pessimistic and close-minded, we can start absorbing that ourselves, whether we mean to or not.  

But when we surround ourselves with positivity and motivation, we start to take that on as well. Putting up positive quotes, thinking more positively, or following more positive social media accounts and blogs (just like ours) can all vastly improve your life if you let it. It will also make it easier for you to take better care of yourself. 

5) Schedule your self-care activities 

If you are one of those people that is already super busy, it can be easy to say you are so busy taking care of everyone else that you don’t have time to take care of yourself.  

As harsh and blunt as this might sound (and coming from someone who was in those exact shoes) you need to make the time. If you don’t take care of yourself you will be no good to anyone in your life. They need you to take the best care of yourself so that you don’t get burned out and so you are around for as long as possible.  

By ensuring you have some self-care activities booked in that busy schedule, it can help you make the time and make those things a priority. 

It can be hard to take care of yourself, but it doesn’t have to be. 

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