If you’re anything like me, you were taught that making self care a priority was a selfish act. At the same time it was likely ingrained in you that you should always bring the best you’ve got in you to the table of life. Let’s take those sentences apart for a moment.
Self care is selfish.
Bring the best you’ve got in you to the table of life.
Notice anything? Those two sentences contradict one another-and not just a little bit. It isn’t possible to bring your best to the table if you’ve been neglecting yourself, and sadly that is what many of us do for not just years, but decades and entire lifetimes. There are a few facets of self care that we’ll focus on for this week’s post.
Self care not only keeps us energized and healthy, it keeps us on track with our purpose. That might seem strange at first glance, but think about it. If you are always on the go and busy, even if you’re doing good things with your time, there’s no time to tend to your own stuff. How are you to know what makes your soul sing if you never take the time to ask it what it wants? It is important to understand that we are of better service to the world and others when we are clear about and within ourselves.
The reason for that is that many of us distract ourselves from the issues that we desperately need to face and clear by staying too busy. Part of self care is the tending of our innermost being. When we do this, we are able to truly know love and compassion because until we experience it for ourselves we cannot completely understand how to help others to find it. Sometimes facing the things that need facing is extremely difficult, but take it from me-they do not go away by trying to ignore them. Not only that, but you find out what it is that you truly wish to be doing with your life, as opposed to what you’ve been told that you should want.
The second facet of self care that is so very important is the joy part. Allowing yourself the opportunity to relax and do things that bring a smile to your face is not a waste of time. It creates a more well rounded foundation from which to fulfill the missions that we set for ourselves. Why? A happy person acts out of a sense of true desire and passion instead of a begrudging feeling of responsibility. Sometimes we need to say no to a request for help from someone in order to take care of one of the facets of our own self care, and that is perfectly okay too. Seriously, do not feel guilty for this.
My own experience has taught me over the course of a few decades that my willingness to always say yes to a request for help wasn’t a positive thing. The first was that I avoided dealing with the issues which were keeping me from growing into my genuine self. The second was that by always saying yes, there were times that I didn’t allow the other person an opportunity to learn how to handle things on their own.
By no means do I advocate a life of complete selfish hedonism. It’s just vital that we all know that self care is not a luxury-it is a necessity, and that we know that not all requests need be granted because at times to do so is a detriment to self and to the other party. Believe it or not, allowing yourself to practice better self care helps you to be able to know the different types of requests and how to deal with them all in the most loving and helpful way possible (even when you deny the request).
So, what I would love to ask of each of you who reads this is that you do yourself a favor this weekend. It can be something big, or something as small as taking a few minutes here and there to simply stop and take a few deep breaths in the most quiet space that you can find. Do something you love. Read, listen to your favorite song while dancing in your bedroom, take a walk around the block or in the woods, dust off your paints and paint a little, write in a journal, meditate, get out your old woodworking tools and fire them up or just go out and gather some materials, watch a funny movie, hell-watch a scary movie (that makes some of us happy)-you get the point. Each of us has varying amounts of time that we can devote to self care. The important part is to start somewhere. As time goes by, you will find that as you make it part of your life, more opportunities will present themselves.
Some of you will say that it’s impossible. For those of you thinking that-I will leave you with an example. There is a woman who lives in my building who is utterly miserable every day and she loves telling anyone who will listen all about it. Just yesterday, I was on my way out to go grocery shopping, and this woman was sitting by the entrance waiting for a pizza delivery.
Her spin on this was that she was ordering pizza because she simply didn’t have the energy to cook that day. She said it with such agony that it was painful to watch. My reply to her was, “Well then, looks like you are listening to your body. Enjoy your treat and the time you’ve made for yourself to relax”.
She did not like this reply at all and said, “If only I were young again I could enjoy my life”.
My response was, “Enjoy yourself today. Get that pizza and go watch your favorite movie”.
Nope! She still wasn’t buying it. She said, “It isn’t possible for me to have fun and enjoy my life”.
At this point, I decided that I wasn’t going to continue to feed her negativity and said, “You know what? You’re right! You can’t have any fun at all-because you said so”.
With that, I wished her a good rest and a delicious pizza and went about my day.
The point? What we tell ourselves becomes the truth. Have a wonderful weekend, doing something just for you. I’ll be beginning National Poetry Writing Month tomorrow which is an absolute joy for me. It makes April one of my favorite months of the year. The rest of this weekend will be dedicated to giving my achy muscles a much needed rest, working with some crystals, and curling up with a good book.
Feel free to share your enjoyment with the rest of us! Seeing other people listening to their souls and bodies uplifts us all-well most of us. The remainder are in more need of self care than they probably realize. What pops into your mind as something that you can do for yourself this weekend?