Why is it that we struggle with our self-care? What is it that has us forget to take our vitamins, give up our sleep for one more episode, skip the walk for a little more work, eat potato chips instead of salad, and then regret our choices at the end of the day? We can ‘should’ on ourselves all day long about our less-than-perfect choices, yet what is motivating us in the first place?
For many of us, we unconsciously focus more on avoiding fear and pain, than on pursuing the feeling of well-being. Many of us were given a sense of ‘well-being’ from what others did for us or to us. We learned this as children when our parents gave us the care and love we needed when we didn’t know how to give it to ourselves.
Some of us still don’t know how to give it to ourselves and our parents were unable to teach us. This has many of us still looking outside of ourselves for our care and well-being. The doctor, our partner, the company, our children, or the teacher. We want to do what they think is best for us. Many of us see what success looks like on those we look up to including celebrities and athletes thinking they look like they have the answer, so we try to mimic what they say or do. Regardless of our income, we all seek to replicate what self-care looks like in the hopes that we will actually feel better. Unfortunately, most of us find ourselves disappointed when we use another’s solutions or wait for someone to take care of it for us. None of them know what is better for us than we do.
I know many people who do little to care for themselves as they have simply ‘numbed-out’ to what they are feeling. Without a connection to our feelings, it is very hard to focus on our self-care. Self-care requires a sensitivity to what is true for us in each moment and a willingness to just ‘be’ with our inner experience. It’s important to be fully present with our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and ideas about what is and isn’t OK for us in how we get our needs met. Some of us are dealing with an issue that narrows our focus into solving that specific problem instead of listening to the rest of what we need inside. Self-care is about all of myself, not just the parts that need to be healed or fixed.
What I have found in my own journey is that my self-care has been directly connected to my level of self-love. The more I offer love and acceptance to myself exactly as I am, the easier it is to pay attention to my own needs and remember that it’s my job to take care of those needs, not someone else’s.
I know what feels best for me and the universe wants to give it to me in surprising and delightful ways when I ask for what I want and say no to what I don’t want. We are each responsible for focusing on our own well-being through the choices we make for ourselves including the thoughts we allow, what we put in our bodies, and the experiences we say yes and say no to. Our parents, teachers, lovers, friends, bosses, health care providers, employee or government are NOT responsible for our well-being. There is no one we need to wait for to give us the care we need BEFORE we can start caring for ourselves. When we claim responsibility for our own self-care, knowing we are whole and complete exactly as we are in our unfolding, we can act in loving ways towards ourselves without judgment. When we are fully accepting of how we are, we realize there is no comparison to anything or anyone, and no destination to get to. No need to compromise or give up what feels best to us. We can choose what is best for us, and others can do the same without anyone giving up their own self-care. Being aware of and choosing what is most loving for us in each moment becomes our natural self-care norm.
What can you do to increase your own self-care today?