Image from therapyevanston.com
Pause for a moment and think about how you, personally, show yourself love and care?
So often we are guilty of putting ourselves last in the cue for care and nurture. Over stretched parents, under-confident singles, carers or recent retirees, caring for themselves so infrequently they actually have no clue where to start.
If you’ve dipped your toe into self care waters, you may have found encouragement to ‘take a bath’, ‘meditate’ or ‘walk in nature’. But done as a tokenistic tick box exercise (because you know you ‘should’) is about as nourishing as eating a whole cake every day under the guise of ‘treating yourself’.
Taking a bath, meditating and spending time in nature are more than valid actions of self love and are in fact amongst my faves but if you spend the whole time in the bath berating yourself for how fat your thighs look in the bath water, or replaying the awful day you had at work whilst you’re frantically power walking around the park, or beating yourself up whilst you’re supposed to be meditating about what a bad mother you are for losing your temper with little Timmy in the supermarket; It appears self care actually goes a lot deeper than it seems.
It’s annoying, I know, and I sound like a broken record but doesn’t it always seem to come back to what’s going on in our inner world, not necessarily the outer? It is that that seems to be the root and solution. The difference between a bath or a walk acting as a old, soggy plaster or a heavenly, luxurious mud wrap, depending on where our heads are at. The annoying bit is, this mean we need to take responsibility for ourselves. GAAADDD.
It is how you feel on the inside that determines how you react to external events, to others, situations and how you project yourself to the outside world.
Self care is as much inner work as it is external. Let’s imagine, for example, a full figured woman walking down the street. Imagine that this woman quietly and confidently knows herself and is stable in her own self worth. She loves and accepts herself exactly as she is and wears her confidence with her head held high, in her unassuming smile and in her sparkly, welcoming eyes. The fact she’s not a size 8 wouldn’t make any odds whatsoever to how goddess like she is. She’s perfect and she modestly knows it.
Someone who knows themselves, who has a gentle, balanced, healthy self confidence is the sexiest attribute going!
Loving yourself first means to accept yourself fully. And from that place you can give more love and live more peacefully. True self acceptance isn’t selfish or self indulgent, arguably running around like a headless chicken, blaming your job, lover, children or situations for your stress or unhappiness and not taking responsibility could arguably be more self indulgent. By loving yourself, you demonstrate and role model to your peers, your children, your lovers or family how to love and accept themselves too.
But my god, of course, it’s a journey and one I struggle with, especially when my pesky old ego buts in and says ‘God you’re annoying, get back in your box’.
So fancy making a pact with me? Shall we start from where we are and see this moment as a nudge to explore, to listen and to surrender to ourselves a little more.
Today, as you pause to consider how you show yourself love and care, realise it isn’t just how often you pamper yourself (but don’t devalue that element of self care either) but also reflect, meditate and explore what’s going on in your internal world.
Visiting a health spa once a year is LUSH but it is our daily actions and rituals that make the real difference. Be mindful of the thoughts you are feeding yourself – are they compassionate and kind? Be mindful of your belief patterns about yourself and the world around you. Remember with awareness you have the power to change old thought patterns, simply being aware is the beginning of change. Be mindful of the food you are nourishing your body with, the products you are feeding your skin and the information you’re feeding your mind.
You can find lots of support tools to help on your journey to finding a meaningful balance of self care in a busy life. The Happi Empire’s Self Care Play Book is such a fun, creative and meaningful place to start. It’s full of inspiration, work sheets, deep dives and loads more. Simply picking this book up is an act of self care in itself.
And of course, reach out if you would like some one to one support. I won’t have the answers or a fix but I will create a safe non-judgmental space for you explore your relationship with yourself further. To untie any knots, to uncover your own answers and offer simple meditation and mindfulness tools to help you along on your own self care journey.
Self care is self respect. Truly loving yourself is self acceptance.
And as the Christopher Germer quote says – ‘A moment of self-compassion can change a whole day. A string of such moments can change a whole life’.
I can guarantee you’re doing better than you think.