self care iceberg watermarked

Welcome back to the series Breaking into the Self-Care Mindset for Professional and Family Caregivers!

If you’re new, go back and check out Steps 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and spend 2-4 weeks implementing the exercises in each step.

If you’ve been following along, let’s dive in!

The last few posts are all about putting your self-care mindset into practice.

Actions, like preparing a healthy meal and going to bed at a reasonable time, are acts of self-care. They’re what we see. They’re the tip of the iceberg. But the self-care mindset is what’s below the surface. It’s what makes you perform those acts of self-care. It’s what’s more important— because, not only does your self-care mindset make you consistent with your acts of self-care, it’s what actually prompts you to practice self-care in the first place.

First, you have to adopt the mindset then you have to start to use it. The first four posts in this series were all about developing a self-care mindset and getting to a place of better mental and emotional health.

Now, as we look at Step 5 and Step 6, we’re looking at the transition from having a self-care mindset to using a self-care mindset.

So, in addition to grieving perfectionism and letting go of unhelpful shoulds, we’re also going to practice ditching our guilt and the tendency to over-function.

At this stage of the game, you’ll want to get clear on what your responsibilities are and aren’t. You’re only responsible for you and yours and THAT’S IT.

Taking on what others are responsible for is unhealthy. So, stop feeling guilty about saying no. Move past feeling bad about maintaining healthy boundaries. Don’t let your guilt lead you into over-functioning, or in other words, perform the actions that someone else is responsible for.

So what are you responsible for and where can you stop over-functioning?

Here’s the easy answer:

Your Responsibilities:

  • What you say/don’t say
  • What you do/don’t do
  • Your effort/lack thereof
  • Your mistakes
  • Consequences of your actions

You are NOT responsible for:

  • What other people say/don’t say
  • What other people do/don’t do
  • The consequences of other peoples’ actions
  • What other people believe
  • Other people’s ideas

Ditch feelings that push you to think and act for others. Acting for others deprives them of their agency and that’s ultimately neither good for your self-care nor your relationships with others.

I wrote Step 5 and Step 6 on perfectionism, shouldism, over-functioning, and guilt-driven behavior because I’ve noticed that once people adopt and start to use a self-care mindset, they stumble into the very issues that prevented them from living a self-care life in the first place. Those issues have tended to cluster around perfectionistic tendencies, unhealthy shoulds, and over-functioning. So, remember to maintain healthy boundaries and let others be responsible for themselves.

In the self-care spirit, here’s your “homework.”


Think about where you may be over-functioning. Are there any areas in your life where you are functioning for someone else? How has that affected them? How was that affected you?

Ask yourself how you would feel if you pulled back and only focused on your responsibilities? What would you have to make peace with to do that? What needs are you trying to meet by functioning for others? How can you meet those needs in healthier ways?

Now, practice reeling back and reflect on the results.

Your goal should be to be compassionate with yourself and ditch the guilt/need to over-function.

This kind of change gets much easier with practice!

And as to what’s to come next…

The last post in this series will be out in 2-4 weeks and it will be about creating a balanced life through self-care.

Good luck and stay well!


Author Bio:
Amanda has contributed to public health initiatives on two continents in three countries. She’s currently pursuing a nursing degree and has successfully owned and operated a freelance writing business specializing in content for healthcare organizations for three years. She and her husband and daughter live in New York. They all enjoy eating out at great restaurants. Connect with Amanda on Linkedin and start a conversation.

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