We often associate self-care with self-indulgence. We think its separating ourselves from our day to day responsibilities that weigh us down or from our relationships or children for a much needed “break.” While there are times when taking time to be alone or take a mental break or vacation are extremely important to our well being, I’d like to offer a different definition of self-care and why it matters.
I was always an overachiever and a people pleaser. This is a lethal combination. I would figure out what people wanted and was astute at pouring myself in to that cup. Combine that with insecurities around not being enough and some addictive behaviors and I was a ticking time bomb. After going through a second divorce and launching in to a world of being a single mom with a demanding career, I was forced to look in the mirror and for many months hated what I saw. I couldn’t reconcile my failures and was for the first time in a place where I couldn’t stuff down the pain and traumas of my past any longer. So much of my identity was about doing it all. I was forced to admit I didn’t have it figured out. I became vulnerable on a whole new level and honest with myself and others.
Only when I learned to stop hiding did I actually start taking care of myself by allowing real connection to my loved ones. I was able to connect with the purpose of caring for my children, of my real goals and a discovery of what I liked and didn’t like. I took classes, I embraced new hobbies, engaged healers and mentors, I became open to new connections that led to other connections that fostered new growth. I was also able to recognize those things and relationships that were draining me and make decisions of how to spend my time and energy. My self-care was in getting to know myself and actually find ways to connect with my deepest desires and passions without apology or judgement.
How you find that connection with yourself is what Self-care is. It’s not separation from your life, but actually authentically living it. Does that mean making changes? Likely yes, and making space to allow things in. New ways of thinking, new activities, new ways of engaging with your loved ones.
Self-care is self-love, self-compassion and giving yourself permission to listen to that voice inside of you that says Yes to things that nourish you and the power to say No to things that don’t.
When you do, a whole world can open up. When you know yourself better, you judge yourself less, you stop thinking about the greener grass, you connect with others on their level, and support and experience deeper relationships as a result. You suddenly intuitively know what’s important and what needs your attention. You set intention naturally, being more connected to your heart versus trying to rationalize things in your mind.
Self- care is a journey not a destination. Its loving yourself in the process of living your life, taking on challenges as spiritual assignments and constantly learning. Its learning to love yourself even when you aren’t proud of an action or an outcome. Its making a choice of what thoughts you put in the universe. Its recognizing that you are complete and you have everything you need now to create the life you want. Not based on if’s and when’s but now. How you embrace self-care matters, not just to you , but everyone in your life and in the world. It’s the catalyst to finding your voice and sharing your gifts. Once you know this in your heart there is no limits to your life.