Self-Care – the path to renewal by Eileen Callahan L.C.S.W.

If you listen to the media, you could believe that this is the most self-absorbed generation of people ever to walk this planet. Sometimes it does feel that way. And while tracking sociological trends is outside my field, after decades working as a psychotherapist and coach, I’ve come to trust my own perspective on humanity. I’ve had the great honor to look deeply into the hearts and lives of many men and women.

So, what do I see? Are people as self-centered as the media leads us to believe? On occasion, yes, but mostly, I find people don’t pay the right kind of attention to themselves.  The men and women I see rarely stop to consider their personal well-being. There is so little dedication to self-care out there in the world; it saddens me.

When I ask clients to tell me, in detail, about their day, the responses can be quite revealing. The information they share tells me a lot about their lives, their self-worth, and their connection to others. These are hardworking, successful people who are devoted to making life better but there is a glaring similarity in all their stories. Their energy is focused outward and there is little left for them. Consequently, they neglect themselves.

Think about the ways you take care of yourself. What ways have you practiced self-care recently? Write down your responses.

What does your list look like? Is it full of more things to do? Self-care isn’t about doing more. Taking care of oneself has a much deeper and broader range. We’re missing the bigger picture. We’re not looking deep enough. We’re not looking at internal forces built into us from past experiences that drive us – outside our conscious awareness.

Some people are driven by fear; fear of not being enough or being exposed as a failure or of financial insecurity or feeling all alone. Was taking on too much responsibility your role in the family growing up? Is this true today? Do you only feel valuable to others only when you are doing, giving or providing?  You may not be consciously aware of this, but this inner belief taps into your feeling of self-worth. Feeling that you are valued for what you do, rather than who you are may be driving you hard to perform. This can be exhausting and ultimately leads to burnout. If you are experiencing feelings that life is overwhelming, deep discouragement or of resentment, you have unearthed an important clue. You are not taking care of yourself as you should. Let’s see what the bible has to say about self-care.

“Above all else, guard your heart for out of it flows the issues of life.”

We must guard our hearts “above all else.” Does that strike you as counter-intuitive? If you’re anything like me, you’ve gotten the impression that first and foremost, God wants us taking care of other people’s hearts. Then, if we’ve been especially helpful, and it doesn’t take too much time or cost too much, we might give ourselves a bit of whatever resources are left.

Do you know what it means to have inherent value? Consider the care most parents take bringing a newborn baby home from the hospital. I remember more than twenty years ago, when my husband and I took turns sitting in the backseat to watch over our newborn daughter while the other drove.  Our heart full of love for this little person. You probably feel this kind of love for a family member? Do you believe anyone feels this way about you?

Our willingness to take care of ourselves is linked our inner beliefs about our self-worth. If our caretakers paid attention to our needs and nurtured us as children, we’ve internalized this, and our self-care is natural and fluid. When people neglect themselves, they do it in uncannily similar ways to the ways they were neglected as children. What are your memories of childhood? Were you lonely, bored, bullied, or ignored? Are there similarities in your life today? Do you feel as if you are walking through life alone, is there a lack of fun hobbies or interests, are you in a painful relationship? Have you been ignoring your personal needs? What is this costing you?

If you listen as long as I have to the lives of others, you’ll discover most of us are not selfish—we actually don’t love ourselves enough. But the truth is; God wants you to guard your heart, your health, your life.

I hope you’ll explore some of this in your growth group, with a friend or with your therapist or coach.  I pray you spend quiet time asking God for insight on how to restore your well-being.  You are valuable and most certainly worth it!

Eileen Callahan,


One-to-One Coaching

Find out more about Eileen


  1. william Harrison on May 22, 2018 at 6:03 am

    Good morning, you mentioned the one Source of the ultimate answer, God, but you did not follow it up with Whom ,He sent Jesus Christ. It is only through Him, and the Holy Spirit, we are able to avoid complete disaster. I know that everyone is controled mostly by their subconscience mind but it is fed by our conscience conscience mind. So where do you stand as far as Jesus Christ, and seeking Him. and the Kingdom of God, which is the realm of Christ in you. Need help, glad to help you. In Christ’s love and blessings, Bill

  2. Annamae Sterling on May 22, 2018 at 6:23 am

    Thank-you Ellen. I was neglected in childhood as I learned how to be an independent adult. I felt a lot of shame and guilt that I realize now had nothing to do with me. Learning how to have healthy relationships was confusing . I am finding it to be a real effort to give myself the care I need. A lot of my cousins have experienced similar abuse in childhood . I was at a 50th anniversary yesterday for one. Ithe was lovely but triggered unpleasant memories of my own experiences . I thought guarding your heart was only about dating and marriage. Thanks for the deeper insight

    • Geraldine Cook on May 27, 2018 at 5:34 pm

      I am very aware that my neglected/abandoned childhood has left me with self-care issues, but just being aware of them has not allowed me to overcome them!
      Any tips?

  3. Cheryl Savageau on May 22, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Love these thoughts Eileen. Thanks for highlighting this important truth. Christians & pastors get “Love God & love others” but seldom remember “love yourself.” I was happy to hear the admonition to remember the 3rd part of Christ’s great commands mentioned in the message at offered at the recent royal wedding! Unusual to hear from the pulpit but needed.

  4. John Sloan on May 22, 2018 at 7:20 am

    Thanks Eileen for the encouragement. A great reminder, particularly as I find myself in ministry and spending most of my time caring for others. Finding reliable care givers can be difficult and takes intentionality. The connection you make to childhood environment is right on and reflects my own story.

  5. Nina richardson on May 22, 2018 at 7:22 am

    That was so helpful to me today. Thank you.

  6. Cecilia on May 22, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Spot on

  7. Deb thomsen on May 22, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Thank you. You were one of my mentors. At counselors intensive. You were. Amazingly insightful.

  8. Lori McLean on May 22, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Wow. Great perspective. I love your insight. Thank you for sharing this!

  9. Karla on May 22, 2018 at 9:43 am

    I really enjoyed reading your self care message. A part of me feels that you were speaking directly to me. I would like to ask is how does one guard their heart? You mentioned to pray and to seek God in prayer which is what I intend to do. I would have liked to have learned of some one who did that exactly(protect their heart) how did they do it? How did they feel!What was the outcome in they’re every day life?

  10. Joel on May 22, 2018 at 9:49 am

    Beautiful. Accurate. Truth to live by.

  11. Cheryl Savageau, LPCC on May 22, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks for these thoughts Eileen. We Christians get “love God and love others” but we’re slow to recognize the need to love self. It’s seldom emphasized from the pulpit (however it did get a mention in the message offered at the recent royal wedding!

  12. Mike Chambers on May 22, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Great message of hope in today’s times. Thank you for your wise enlightenment Eileen–well said!

  13. Mike Garrett on June 1, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Godly Awesome thoughts! Thanks Eilene!

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