What is self-care … really? We might often be lead into thinking self-care is shopping with a friend, having a massage, eating chocolate, a good football match, a night out drinking with friends, even a soak in a hot bathtub. While this can often calm us temporarily from our fraught selves, it is though, at some level, self-care? We come out of massage or eating feast feeling a tad better. But then in no time, the whole world of reality floods back, and it’s all there again.
Self-care can be and is so much more than the doing of activities that make us feel momentarily satiated
More powerful self-care often comes from, not necessarily adding something but from removing something. Removing something that is not giving us good feelings. This change might be the activity of doing things that are bad for us … or the things we avoid … or those things that create the stressors. Rather than running from them, I invite you to consider engaging with them. Looking them right in the eye and staring them down into oblivion. It’s not always about ‘treating’ ourselves because that style of self-care is most often short-lived.
So what is it that could be done to better utilize ways of engaging in self-care? A great starting base might be to physically write down everything that is driving you mad and creating distress and or upsetting.
Take the time to have a relationship with each point you have noted. Try to resist that voice, that *introject, that tells you, life ‘should’ be a certain way. Develop awareness around how each of these points is affecting your life … try not to run from them … try to stay with the feelings they evoke no matter how awful or intimidating they might be.
If you do run ( i.e. go to the fridge for food relief) try to gently bring yourself back to confront the scariest of topics on the list.
A client told me recently she used to run from any responsibility that felt like it was a grown-up role. She had learned enough in her psychotherapy, about herself, to know what she was doing. She also knew it devastated her life.
She has three young children and when we were able to draw the analogy that she often felt the same age as her children … especially around bills and household tasks … she gained significant insight into behaviour that was, and always had been, derailing her life.
Once she was able to steel herself and have a relationship with her ‘bad’ feelings she was able to desensitize her traumatic response to the scary things that impeded her process. Finally, and not easily, she began getting things done.
At this juncture, you might be wondering about what some of those ‘other’ things might be.
A common one for people is looking at their exact financial status.
Another might mean moving away from people you don’t feel good around.
It could even be in doing what feels good for you and is a disappointment to another. And not in an egocentric or narcissistic way either.
It could be letting the house get messy … or keeping it tidy … your opposite, to give yourself some reflective time.
Finding and identifying your time thieves, such as social media, eating, hanging out with people, or any non-productive tasks.
Looking out failure or things that didn’t work out.
Self-care is a catchy, trendy phase that has most likely been promoted and marketed to us, in the hope that it might fuel consumerism. However, it is a more real thing and more insidious things than just luxuriating in behaviour. We can benefit far more from self-care if we see and deal with it in a deeply thoughtful, reflective manner.
Even making time to talk to a professional in this area to help you get perspective. Perhaps a counsellor, a coach or a psychologist These three professions will usually help you with strategies and exploration.
However if you are wanting deeper change, deeper insight, working from the inner you … not the outer other … perhaps seeking a psychotherapist will give you another perspective. You can read more on my website
Regardless of your choice to seek help, I challenge you to look your fears in the eye and share with us, here, how it went … be it the good the bad or the ugly.
*Introject: something we take in as learning from another, that is not necessarily our own thinking, feeling or belief