Self-Care: Knowing Your Limits

I haven’t made it a secret that I have depression and anxiety issues. They are part of who I am right now and very definitely affect my life. My family, bless their hearts, have to deal with my impaired abilities and my limitations, but I have to say that it is amazing how much my husband steps up and fills in the gaps caused by my illnesses.

And that, in a way, is what I want to talk about today: knowing when you just can’t do more.

It isn’t wrong to say, “I just can’t do it.” We are human, and we have limitations. And those aren’t necessarily caused by such things as anxiety and depression. They can be due to the fact that you just don’t have the energy. Or the time. Or the emotional strength. Or a thousand other things.

And when you reach the edge of your abilities, you don’t need to feel guilty because you don’t push yourself further.

We were talking about self-care the other day, and we said that self-care is based on self-respect. I argue that trying to make ourselves go beyond our limits and beating ourselves up about our inability to do so are contrary to self-respect. They are the reverse, therefore, of self-care.

If you are wondering what genuine self-care is, here is an excellent example. An aspect of self-care is recognizing, accepting, and respecting our limitations. It’s saying “yes” to ourselves when our minds, hearts, and bodies tell us to stop.

Sure, we could always keep on pushing. But what is going to happen? We are going to get worn down gradually. Our strength is going to be eaten away slowly. And if we keep it up long enough and hard enough, a breakdown of sorts will rear its ugly head.

And that is definitely not self-care.

There are several things which I have a hard time doing, the most notable of which is going to the grocery store with my son. If I look at this objectively, I find it very easy to criticize myself harshly. After all, women are taking two or three or six children to the store every day, and I find the idea of taking one debilitating. However, it is the fact that I do, and while I am working on regaining the mental and emotional health to make this task less of a burden, my husband steps in to do the grocery shopping for me.

Is this difficult for me to allow to happen? Yes, it is. Is it humiliating? Yes, it is. Do I feel like a failure every time he makes his list and goes to the store? Yes, I do.

But the reality is, I think, that I should not. When I do so, I am not accepting my limitations. I am beating myself up rather than caring for myself. I am not showing myself the respect I ought to.

We probably all have these kinds of struggles. We probably all have something we wish we could do but can’t. And we probably all harshly criticize ourselves for it. But what I want you and me to take away from this post is that we don’t have to–we shouldn’t, in fact. This part of self-care takes humility. It takes humility to acknowledge we have limitations. But doing so and respecting those limitations will actually lead to a greater degree of happiness.

So allow yourself to accept help. Allow yourself to have weaknesses. Allow yourself to be human. And by accepting your weakness, you will gain strength.

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