Self-care can be seen as something only certain people do, reserved for the privileged, those people who don’t have a full time job or have few responsibilities.
I used to think that “self-care” was for those lucky people who were out of touch with the lives of real people. And that often made me quite angry. I was jealous and I conjured self-care as something for stay-at-home mums heading off to yoga class versus stressed, hectic, frantic, working mothers like me, who were barely keeping it together.
Yes, I was one of those people who sneered at self-care.
Instead, I ran myself ragged, giving all of my time, energy and attention to my work, keeping up with my bills, the house, until my frantic, precarious world exploded. I suffered a mental and emotional breakdown.I took voluntary redundancy from my senior marketing role and soon realised that there had been one very important missing ingredient all along. That ingredient was self-love.
Self-love. Another awkward subject. Self-love is even harder to talk about than self-care. In fact, the sound of self-love can still give me the creeps; it makes me feel weak, pathetic and vulnerable.
What I learned is that ultimately, everything, including self-care, grows out of self-love. You first have to care enough about yourself, to take care of yourself. You have to know that you matter in order to treat yourself like you do. And for some people, like yours truly, learning that was a long, slow journey with a priceless payoff.
What I discovered is that the gift in falling apart, is getting to mindfully stitch yourself back together, starting with self-awareness. Meditating in the mornings and reading self help books galore , I became deeply aware of the thoughts running around in my head. I started to tune into the messages that I was telling myself, especially the ones urging me to keep going no matter what. That there was no slowing down, no Off switch, that saying No was for sissies or wimps or people who didn’t “get” it, that there was no space reserved for me, my needs.
I realised that, while I had been working so feverishly on all fronts, I was actually running away from–ugh–another terrible confession: low self-worth. I had papered over feelings of not being good enough, smart enough, lovable enough, by doing more, going all out, being friendlier, more helpful, competing in a fantasy game of one-upmanship of people-pleasing.
If you think self-care is for other people or your supply of self-love is embarrassingly low, I highly recommend some mindful self-awareness to see what you’re saying about yourself.
By leaning into the voices, thoughts, emotions roiling around in my head non judgmentally—and then so judgmentally when I discovered what garbage I had floating around up there—I could hear what I believed about myself. And it was not pretty.
And this is where the really sticky part came in. Over time, I had to learn like myself and eventually, learn to love myself.
So, if any of these true confessions rings a bell with you, if you think self-care is for other people or your supply of self-love is embarrassingly low, I highly recommend some mindful self-awareness to see what you’re saying about yourself. Let those thought bubbles gurgle up, see them, hear them, let them go, and perhaps experiment with a heavy dose of loving-kindness. And see what happens.
Personally, I have come to see that self-care, to me, isn’t about someone else’s mid-morning yoga classes. It’s about knowing my worth, taking the reins of my own power, and believing that I have the right to thrive even in the midst of the daily hustle and bustle.
Self-love and self-care are priceless
i am someone who takes time to meditate every morning, says “No, thank you” with increasing frequency and decreasing guilt, gets to the dentist twice a year, and fights to put my personal “to-do’s” on my big running To-Do list. I’ve also learned to pause and breathe, to be grateful for the simple gifts as they come my way: be that a walk with my husband, a chat with the kids, listening and laughing along with them. Being there, present, in the midst of an ocean of love, soaking up every ounce.
Self care, make sure it’s included in your daily routine and to do list.
Mindfulness and self care coach