Ask the Coach: Why Don’t I Take Care of Myself?

In my monthly newsletter, I have a column titled “Ask the Coach.” This column is created from real questions that I receive from my clients and readers. This month’s question was so good that I had to share it here on the blog.

If you’d like to receive future “Ask the Coach” questions and answers, be sure to sign up for my monthly fibromyalgia newsletter.

If you have a burning question that you’d like an answer to, just send me an email and ask! I’ll email back an answer.

Answering your questions helps me too — it gives me interesting answers I can share in my newsletter! As you can see, I post the questions anonymously, so no worries.

Why don’t I take care of myself?

Ask the Coach: Why Don't I Take Care of Myself? | Fibromyalgia Coach, Tami StackelhouseCan I just say how much I love this question?

I believe that self-care is the key to feeling good. That means that your question is the key to finding the key!

It’s most effective to work on answering this when you have someone you can work with, such as a coach, counselor, or therapist. We are trained in how to tease answers out of you that you might not have thought of on your own. Even as a trained coach, I need to work with someone on the areas where I get stuck. It’s simply not something you can do for yourself.

Having said that, here are a few ideas on what may be getting in your way.


Did you ever think that maybe there is a biological reason for why you aren’t motivated to take care of yourself?

When certain body chemistry is off, you will be less focused and less motivated. Sometimes the “what’s wrong with me” question is answered with an actual medical condition: hormone imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, neurotransmitter imbalances, and much more.

Here’s a personal example: For me, depression manifests in sleeping more than usual and not wanting to do anything — even the things I would normally want to do. By treating the cause of my depression (low serotonin), I feel much better and more motivated.

Please don’t underestimate this piece of the puzzle. Talk to your doctor.


Society and your upbringing may have developed habits within you that are difficult to overcome.

The world we live in tells us that helping other people is better than focusing on ourselves. Sharing is good; being selfish is bad.

The problem is that when you have a chronic illness, such as fibromyalgia, you absolutely must take care of yourself first. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be any good to anyone else. Remember what your flight attendants always tell you: put your own oxygen mask on first, then help those around you.

Overcoming these habits of putting everyone else first will take deliberate practice. This is another place where working with a coach can be a huge help. I can provide accountability, as well as effective tactics to change your habits quickly.


Losing Touch with Your WHY

Losing touch with why you need to take care of yourself — not to mention who and what you’re doing it all for — will always make things harder.

Most of us don’t really want to do the boring stuff like going to bed on time, avoiding foods that aren’t good for us, and exercising. After all, what’s exciting and fun about going to bed? =)

I had a client tell me once that every evening she feels like she’s about two years old. She just wants to stamp her foot and say, “But I don’t want to go to bed!” I totally get that!

Here’s the catch, though — we want what those things will give us. We want more energy, less pain, and better brain function.

When we lose sight of WHY we’re doing what we’re doing, it can be super hard to keep up the routine.

My husband and I watch the TV show Elementary. In the episode titled The Eternity Injection, Watson asks Sherlock what’s been bothering him. He says, “…It’s the process of maintaining my sobriety. It’s repetitive, and it’s relentless. And above all, it’s tedious.. I find myself asking myself, is this it?” (You can check out a clip of their conversation here.)

The process of maintaining your health when you have a chronic illness is exactly the same: repetitive, relentless, and tedious. Sometimes, it’s just no fun.

But we do those repetitive, relentless, and tedious things so that we can have the really good stuff: a better life.

I would encourage you to spend some time getting in touch with what you really want and why you want it. If you were to paint a picture of what you want your life to be… what would that look like? What kinds of things would you be doing? Once you know that, it’s easier to make the steps to get you closer to that picture.

Action Steps

I’ve talked in this article about several steps you can take. Here’s a recap:

  1. Talk to your doctor.
  2. Read the additional articles (listed below).
  3. Join in on my next webinar (details below).

Webinar: How to Be Sick without Being a Donkey
(The Fine Art of Self Care)

Join me in February to learn more about the fine art of self care. I like to describe self care as treating yourself the way you would treat someone that you love. This includes your thoughts, words, and actions.

During this webinar, you will begin your own self-care action plan, including two separate toolboxes to help when brain fog and flare-ups strike.

You will also learn:

  • Why good self-care will help you feel better, physically and emotionally
  • Ways to become more comfortable in your own skin
  • Self-care techniques that don’t require money
  • How to bring more joy into your life

Be sure to have some paper and a pen handy before the webinar begins.

Wednesday, February 18th
6:30 – 8:00 PM

Additional Reading

There are several other blog posts I would recommend to help you begin caring for yourself:

13 Ways to Regain Your Motivation to Get Well
The First Commandment of Healing: Don’t be an ass. Honor your body.
Honoring Your Body: Getting to Know YOU
Honoring Your Body: Practical Advice, Part 1
Honoring Your Body: Practical Advice, Part 2

Photo: “Beautiful Smile” from Kondoros Éva Katalin, licensed under iStockphoto LP.
Tami Stackelhouse



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  1. Hi Tami,

    This is all what I have been suffering from. You described very nicely. You know, I feel much motivated and focused after reading this. You’re a true Gem 🙂 Seriously, I loved it 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

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