Category Archives: Self-care

Putting Yourself First Isn’t A Crime

Are These Half-Truths Crippling Your Happiness?

Girl reading on roof

A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies.  ~ Mark Twain

It’s true.

Someone owes you an apology.

Right now. And it had better be a good one.

Because your happiness has been crippled by some seriously twisted half-truths.

Heck, you’ve been told the exact opposite of how happiness works. I hesitate to say you’ve been lied to… but then again you have!

You deserve better. You deserve the whole truth. Not some half-baked truth that’s little better than the lie it disguises.

You’ve worked really hard to try and find happiness. And having found it, to keep it. Because it’s all to easily knocked to the floor by a partner or parent’s harsh words, the boss’ bad mood or overdue utility bills hitting your inbox or doormat.

But there’s the other kind of happiness. One that can withstand disappointment, disillusion and disagreement.

One that lets you keep smiling when everyone else is reaching for a bottle.

That happiness is totally real. But if you continue believing these half-truths, it’ll never happen.

So yeah, that apology is long overdue.

It’s time to expose those happiness-stealing half-truths for the crippling lies they are…

Put others first

You’ve been told you need to put others first since you were out of diapers. After all, that’s what all decent people do, isn’t it? We all want to do the right thing. And putting ourselves before others, well, that just sounds wrong. Selfish even.


  • Do sick people look after sick people in hospital?
  • Do homeless people house homeless people?
  • Do unhappy people spread happiness?

In truth, we all do what we can. But your basic needs need to be met first…because  your happiness isn’t going to thrive if the needs of others come before yours.

And your happiness needs to be in a good shape to really help others. If possible you need to be full of joy and energy.

Get that right and you can help so many more people. Genuinely help. Effectively help. Not the half-baked version of help that comes with trying to put on a happy face when you’re really feeling down, exhausted or lost in life yourself.

That’s why they insist you put your oxygen mask on first before your kid’s when there’s a mid-air emergency. What good are you to your kid if you’re half-conscious?

You need to be selfish so you are strong enough to be selfless. @lauraJTong (Click to Tweet!)

The whole truth is you need to put your happiness first if you are going to effectively help other people to be happy.

Make Your Parent’s Proud

Oh, there’s another common half-truth that’s a total happiness assassin. The job of making your parents proud. This is closely related to putting other’s first.

‘Make me proud, daughter! I gave you life and love. Now it’s payback time, right?’

Of course they don’t think of it this way. Most parents aren’t trying to lay a guilt trip on you. But somehow the odds don’t seem in any way even. The cards are stacked.

They may have cared for you and give you opportunities. Even heaped genuine love on you. But why and where the heck did making them proud come from?

‘Make me proud, son!’ I put you through school and college.’

If anyone is going to be proud about all or any of your life, that should be you. If anyone else wants to feel proud about it, that’s up to them.

Because you know what? Your dreams and desires aren’t theirs. Just because you share a little DNA, you can’t make them proud. Only they can do that.

You can bust your back trying to get a first class honors, or a six figure pay check or a fancy title. And will it make them proud? Maybe, maybe not. It’s a lottery.

So concentrate on your job – making yourself proud.

And let them concentrate on their job – deciding that they are going to be proud of you because, and only because, you decided to have the courage to live life your way.

Now that’s something any parent should be truly proud of.

The whole truth is it’s your job to make your parents proud of nothing. Live your life, let them live theirs. Love each other and both be proud that neither of you feel the need to dictate the other’s life.

Honesty Is The best Policy

Another rotten half-truth that’s wormed its way insidiously inside us is that honesty is always the best policy.

Who could argue with that?

Well, anyone with a good heart to start with.

Sure we want to live in a nice world where we can trust each other. Where we don’t worry that we’ll be lied to by friends or scammed out of our hard-won cash by strangers. We all want to know who we can trust. And that means we need to always be honest, right?

Yes. To a point.

Up to the point that someone’s honesty would ruin someone else’s day, pick of their self-esteem from a hundred paces or stab their ego through the heart.

Or even destroy their life.

We’re all human and no matter how buff and resilient we pretend to be, underneath it all we’re delicate, fragile beings. And if you’ve got a good heart, in some situations the brutal, harsh truth needs to be left unsaid. A little white lie needs to go in its place. Even to yourself.

Because life gets tricky. In fact, It can get brutal and messy no matter how hard you try. Blurring the truth can seriously rocket your happiness and someone else’s if you swap feeling guilty for feeling good that you deliberately put their feelings first.

The whole truth is honesty is only the best policy if it builds rather than destroys happiness. If it does more harm than good, to hell with the truth! In the real world, kindness is always the best policy for everyone’s happiness.

Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Like most of these half-truths, this next one is very well-intentioned. But oh boy, is it going to mess you up. You’ve been told that comparing yourself to others is wrong. And again, that’s a lie.

‘Don’t do it’ is the general cry. ‘Just stop!’.

Yeah right.

It’s a lie because there is nothing wrong with comparing yourself to others. And this lie just makes you feel bad about doing it.

Comparing yourself to others is a basic human trait. It’s the mechanism that lets you process the world around you and where you fit into it. Everyone does it – me, you, Oprah, the President. Everyone to some extent or another.

Taking that away is like pulling the plug on your oxygen. You’ll be left reeling, gasping, no idea which way to turn.

The truth is, you need to compare yourself to the right people. The right ones for you. Which doesn’t include…

  • Beating yourself up over an apparently ‘more successful’ friend’s amazing – and carefully selected – Facebook photos.
  • Feeling desperately unattractive after leafing through glossy, glamorized – and carefully edited –  images of models.
  • Feeling like a failure while reading articles on the rich and famous.

Comparing yourself to other people’s half-truths is like drinking Drano to cure a stomach ache. It’s pure poison to your happiness.

Remember most people are liars, even if they do it subconsciously. And I don’t mean that to be an insult, or an accusation. It’s the truth. And if they aren’t lying, they’re telling half-truths. Exaggerating, or ‘touching up’ or ‘dressing up’ or a hundred other euphemisms.

Most of what you see out there is a distorted version of the truth at best. So where the heck does that leave you?

Well, there is only one surefire way to know if someone is a good model to compare yourself to…

  • If looking at how they live makes you happy rather than depressed.
  • If researching what they’ve achieved inspires you rather than de-motivates you.
  • If looking at how they look makes you feel good about how you look right now.

The whole truth is that comparing yourself to someone else can and should make you feel good. It should leave you excited, energized, eager. If you come away with negative emotions, drop that person as someone to ever compare yourself to.

Discard those half-truths and grow your happiness.

You’ve been lied to, however well intentioned.

But you may never get an apology.

Because most people spend their whole lives believing in these half-truths.

But now you know the whole truth, you can throw off those shackles to your happiness.


  • Go make yourself happy first  – and then spread that happiness around all the better.
  • Go make yourself proud – and then let your parents make themselves proud of you.
  • Go out goodhearted and make someone feel good in their heart – and then worry about the truth.
  • Go compare yourself to someone who makes you feel good right now – and then keep doing it.

Go embrace the whole truth.

Because the purpose of life is to be happy.

And that includes you.


Let the Shoulds Go

How to Avoid Becoming a Slave to the SHOULDS in Your Life

How to Avoid Becoming a Slave to the SHOULDS in Your Life

Do you live with a perpetual laundry list of SHOULDS?

You know the list:

– I SHOULD take my kids to a museum every weekend.
– I SHOULD visit my aging mother at least twice a week.
– I SHOULD clean out the garage, bathe the dogs, do my daughter’s hair, clean the microwave, take Jimmy to soccer practice, pick up my husband’s dry-cleaning, bake cupcakes for Susie’s Easter party…


SHOULDS are exhausting. You know what else? SHOULDS are never-ending. They’re also crippling when you allow them to engulf your entire existence.

You probably know this not only from your own experience, but from watching your parents or caretakers become slaves to the SHOULDS in their lives. Overworking themselves to the bone just so the world around them was all taken care of. Trying to avoid the shame and guilt they felt when they said “no” to the SHOULDS that overwhelmed them?

But who took care of them?
And more importantly, who took care of YOU?
Who takes care of you now?

When giving to others starts to cripple your happiness and joy, you receive signals from your body that you’re doing too much. It can manifest as irritability, sadness, loneliness, unexplained anger, and more.

Where once your reserves of happiness overflowed, you find that the pump has run dry, and everyone else has had a drink but you. That emptiness in your gut doesn’t feel like you because everything that makes you YOU has been depleted.

Your energy is sacred, dear. Oh-so-sacred. Not honoring your needs can lead you down a path of negative self-talk, depression, and countless other ailments. That’s why SELF-CARE is incredibly important.

How to lean into SELF-CARE to avoid the SHOULDS, and make it a part of your healing TODAY!


Create a list of three ACTIONS you can take to show yourself some love and care. For example, I love, love, love doing a skin care regimen every morning. It’s an act that allows me to show myself the type of care that brings me peace and joy. It’s all about me and MY NEEDS, which is perfectly okay. Maybe you love dancing, gardening, taking walks in the park. Whatever it is that makes your heart thump with happiness, write it down!


If you feel something, it’s real. If it’s real, it deserves your time and attention. Honor your feelings, even when they don’t include happiness and joy. Your sadness, your anger, your frustration? They all deserve to be acknowledged. In doing so, you give yourself the space to be fully present in your being; and when you take away the judgment and shame, greeting your feelings gives them the freedom to visit, and then peacefully exit. Because here’s the truth: they won’t stop knocking until you’ve opened the door. So give them a glass a water, ask them to have a seat, listen to them, make them feel better, and then thank them for their visit. Your feelings are important!


Your body is your greatest tool for healing. It’s this wonderful machine that sends you messages about what the heck is going down with your emotions. If you feel extremely tired, irritable, grumpy, or short-tempered, your body’s SOUNDING THE ALARMS. Listen to it. Your body is your guide, and it’s like a child. If a child were cranky, wouldn’t you give it a nap? Withholding what your body, mind, and spirit need is cruel. We’re not being cruel with ourselves anymore, are we? Nope, we are LOVING the heck out of ourselves!


You are not the captain of others’ emotional ships. You cannot control how they feel, how they felt in the past, or how they will feel in the future. You cannot control if they’ll like your or not. All you can control is who and what you allow into your life. So why not only allow things that make you feel good?

Nowhere in the book of life does it say that we are required to say “yes” to every request, invitation, or favor that comes our way.

Saying “no” is not a crime, and you are NOT a criminal.

What is a crime is not loving and caring for yourself? So make “no” your very best friend when asked to do something you really don’t want to do. You have to put your oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else.


That nagging inner voice that criticizes you every time you don’t fulfill a SHOULD? That voice is a big MEANIE. You might call it your pride, your guilt, your shame, but ultimately you have the power to control what it says. Pretty cool, huh? That voice wants to keep you self-sacrificing and drowning. But you can replace that critic with a kind voice instead. Approach yourself with love every time you catch your critic.

Turn “You’re such a terrible daughter for not dropping everything to help your mom!” to “My dear, you are doing the very best you can. You’re a wonderful daughter, but today you have to feed your own soul, and that’s okay.” Doesn’t that just feel so nice?! Try it out, you’ll start to re-condition your thought patterns in no time!


You are NOT everyone’s superhero. You didn’t sign up for that, and no one around you should expect that from you. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: it takes a village. Not only to raise a child, but keep a community sane! We are all here to love and support one another, so when the going gets rough, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your pride might keep you from asking, but imagine that child again. If a child asked you for help, would you turn him or her away? Why should it be any different for you?

Be kind to yourselves, my loves. These changes take time. You won’t accomplish them overnight, but with patience and practice, you’ll establish a self-care routine that elevates your joy and wellbeing.


You Are Your Responsibility

Helping others is virtuous. Helping others at your own expense is foolish. You must take care of yourself first for several reasons: your survival, saying No is good for you and you deserve what you give others.

I read a post just today from a Facebook Friend who notified her Facebook Framily that she cannot be there for anyone right now so she was taking a break to be there for herself. She is doing the right thing. Brava for her! She didn’t blame anyone for her current predicament. She said it was her fault that she was worn out emotionally.

She never says no. She is always there for others. She must now step away or she will shrivel up from doing for others. When you are the strong one, the go-to person, people never consider they wear you out. They expect you to be able to handle it all. Well they are wrong. And what happened to reciprocity? Everyone give a little and we’ll be okay.

I used to over-help and it was my fault. No one asked me to do that. I’ve just always felt if I had something or some information that could help someone, why not share it. That wasn’t the problem the problem was I also tried to motivate and lead them to what was good for them. Never works out. Simply put you can’t want more for a person than they want for themselves. It is not your job to help them want it.

I also learned to say No. Raising women to say No has not been a priority for society. I learned from my Mom that No was okay but for some reason I would feel bad like I should do so-and-so. And that I should at least explain why I wasn’t going to do so-and-so or why I didn’t want to do so-and-so.  I no longer do that. I don’t use Should anymore. I now say No without one iota of vagueness or ambiguity; both externally and internally. I don’t have to explain anything to anyone. Plain and simple.

You have a right to not do anything you don’t want to do. Ask yourself would the person asking this of me would they do this for me if I asked? Answer the question truthfully. As you get better with saying No you won’t need to ask that question you’ll just say No without a hint of anger or hesitation. You don’t want to do it. Own it. Just say No.

Lastly, don’t you deserve all the attention, care, devotion and motivation you give to others?  You do. If you don’t know that truth then get yourself some professional help and figure it out. Get real with yourself. Learn how to appreciate yourself. Take all that you do for others and shower it on yourself.

You should always be first in your life. Self-care is not selfish.

(c) Valerie Lee 2016

Self CareSignature2