Self-care can easily become something we do on auto-pilot, right? Just like any other habit or intention, if we lose the meaning and real purpose behind it…well then, it’s “just another thing we do because…” Or on the flip side, it is something we finally resort to doing because we have completely depleted ourselves and are finally forced to face our situation and respond by some a drastic intervention. You know when the red flag has become a gigantic billboard with flickering neon orange lights reading “Hey you…remember you? Where have you been? It’s me, your TRUE SELF.”
Engaging in self-care has even become trendy and at times, we feel (unconsciously or consciously) the societal pressure to do ‘it’ right and then beat ourselves up when we don’t get ‘it’ right. And before we know it, we are in the vortex of consumerism by shallow attempts to fill the ego and distract ourselves from the void we truly feel. We know how this ends up: Another pair of black boots (guilty), exhausting attempts to make the perfect, healthiest breakfast smoothie (guilty), or drinking that extra glass of wine that we really don’t need (guilty) because we’ve “earned it”. This is not self-care; this is escapism and doesn’t really meet our true needs.
Speaking of needs….tending to our self-care asks that we (re)parent ourselves, get curious about our true needs, become vulnerable to ask for and meet these needs. And accept without bitterness when these needs may not get met- knowing and trusting the Universe will meet our needs in due time. Re-parenting ourselves is an invitation to step out from victim mode and into self-empowerment.
Often, self-care is difficult and maybe even ugly some of the time. Self-care as a lifestyle involves emotional honesty. I like the term ‘rigorous honesty’ that is embodied in the heart of the 12 steps program. It means we may have to end a toxic relationship. We may have to fully accept that our boundaries are being violated by a family member or by our best friend and then do something about it without guilt or shame. We may need to acknowledge that we have been in rescue mode towards another person when ultimately we need to be in caring mode. Caring involves healthy boundaries, vulnerability, and truth; rescuing is selfish and when we are in rescue mode our belief is that we can save someone or that we have the “exact” or right thing they need to hear. Not to mention, this is dis-empowering for the other person. When we are too busy thinking of others, caring for others, doing for others, than we lose connection with our intuitive self. This is a sure way to burnout and resentment.
I encourage you to take a moment to reflect and gauge where you are with your self-care regime? Does it need a tune-up? Are you fully present and engaged while practicing self-care or are you caught up in guilty feelings and excessive thoughts about all the things you have to do? I should…..I should not….. you know how the ‘shoulding’ goes. When you are receiving a massage, are you really receiving or are you using the quiet time to think, think, think about all the things you need to get done after the massage.
What WILL you commit to do in this next year to better care for yourself? Say no when you want to say no? Say yes when you want to say yes? Step out and step up with more emotional vulnerability- knowing that doing so builds resiliency, makes you stronger and more authentic? Maybe you can commit to practice greater self-compassion? More mindfulness? OR EVEN…..a little soul evolution (WHOA now) by committing to therapy to heal those wounded parts in need of attention. Now that is some real deal self-care!
REMEMBER: “Be there for others, but never leave yourself behind.” ~Dodinsky