I have been thinking a lot about self-care lately.
It’s quite a buzz-word, but what does it really mean, both in terms of practical implementation in daily life, but also in an inner sense of what you believe and feel about yourself?
Many of us are very good at looking after others, and may expend a great deal of love, energy and time in doing so, caring for children, partners, parents, other family members and friends, as well as working in caring professions such as teaching, healthcare and so on.
But when it comes to truly taking care of ourselves there seems to be a belief in many of us that we are being selfish or self-indulgent.
It’s a puzzling conundrum – the belief that ‘other people are important but I am not’.
I wonder why we might feel that it is more important for our guests to have a good time on Christmas day, than for us to enjoy ourselves?
Or why if the babysitter has let us down our partner’s night out is more important than ours?
Or why we might push ourselves to exhaustion rather than say we can’t give any more, but need to rest and receive?
When looked at this way, we must ask the question ‘what do I believe about my self-worth?’ Or put another way, ‘what do I feel I deserve?’
These are questions that are worth exploring more deeply.
- Where did I get my beliefs from?
- Who role modelled this for me?
- Who do I feel I need permission from, and why?
- What am I getting (unconsciously) from my giving/caring behaviour?
Often when I ask people about their self-care they will talk about making time for ‘having a long bath’ or ‘going out with friends’ or ‘sitting and reading a book’. Whilst these actions may meet our needs for relaxation and pleasure, they may not be going deep enough.
It is possible to engage in these acts of ‘self-care’ whilst still feeling guilty, that we don’t deserve it, or that we should be doing something else.
So I’m wondering, what do you believe you deserve, and who should be providing it?
I believe that for our lives to be in flow we need a balance of give and receive, work and play, and….(here’s the bit you might struggle with) we all have an equal right to have this need met.
In other words your right to this balance (work/play, give/receive) is as important as your partner’s, and your boss’s, and your child’s, and your parent’s and everyone else’s.
That, I have figured out, seems to be the essence of real self-care. To embody a belief in this equal right.
It is very illuminating to spend time pondering these thorny questions: ‘what do I believe I deserve? How equal do I feel, compared to the needs of others?
But that is only the beginning. Next time we’ll be starting to look at how to begin putting this new belief into practice.