Busting the Myth of Self-Care
Self-Care is Gutsy
It’s not just about bubble baths and massages. It’s about true vulnerability with yourself, knowing and loving yourself, honoring your deepest values and needs, then acting and moving from that place.
I know the word self-care has been thrown around a lot, especially when it comes to women, new mothers, or currently, global pandemics.
People give you advice like:
“Make sure to practice self-care.”
“It is not selfish to practice self-care.”
But what does “Practice self-care” really mean?
I had always been led to believe that self-care was a spa day, getting my nails done, doing some yoga, reading a good book… All actions. More things to check off the list.
For me this has always been problematic because I am a chronic overachiever and busybody. I have found that being busy and doing tasks/actions is where I derive my self-worth, as well as how I avoid and numb uncomfortable feelings of vulnerability and insecurity.
For me, practicing self-care, as a check list of to-dos, was a death sentence. It was just one more task to do (or not to do well enough) and then beat myself up over.
I think a lot of people fall into this category. The need to do is always so important that self-care just becomes one more item on the mile-long to-do list of life.
For those of you who are not perfectionist busybodies, the doing aspect of self-care may not be the issue. You may not feel such issues around self-worth and doing, but perhaps it’s about not knowing which activities you should be doing, or how you should be doing them, which leads to decision paralysis about which bath bomb or essential oil would be the ultimate self-care practice for you. You’ve now taken what should be a relaxing experience and turned it into yet another arduous decision you have to make.
The quest for self-care becomes a struggle to choose; a game of self-doubt and anguish because you never seem to get it quite right. One more thing for which you punish yourself, which completely defeats the purpose of self-care in the first place. Just like the perfectionist doers, the list never is complete, and self-care never feels quite like what you expected or thought it should be.
These are just a few examples of course. Others may have unmet expectations, or fear of relaxing, or any number of reasons why “make sure to prioritize self-care!” doesn’t quite make sense or sit right with them.
Here’s what I want to tell you: We have it all wrong.
We have been told that self-care means baths, essential oils, yoga, and a good book. But those are all actions; more tasks. Sure, it’s great to take a bath and read a book, and I’m all for both of those things. But telling ourselves that a bath is all we need to check self-care off the list is missing the point.
The Myth of Self-Care
Self-care is about waking up every day and asking, who am I? And how do I honor her?
How do you do that, you ask? By being Gutsy!
Self-care is about honoring yourself.
It’s about looking deep inside of you, recognizing your deepest, truest, most vulnerable self, asking her what her values are, and then making your decisions -yes, every decision- from those values.
Self-care is about empathy for yourself.
Empathy for yourself is identifying the emotions you are having, giving them a name, a voice, and a seat at the table. You then act from a place of honoring those emotions, and then letting them go.
Self-care is about knowing yourself.
It’s about knowing yourself well enough to ask, “What is it that I need/want/deserve in this moment?” and then having the guts to act on that. Right now. Every moment.
Self-care is about unconditional love for yourself.
Unconditional love is loving yourself because of your flaws and vulnerabilities, not in spite of them. It is about loving those vulnerabilities and leaning into them, and then asking yourself, “what would the loving choice for me be right now?” And then having the guts to do it.
Self-care is about authenticity.
Self-care is about understanding that living an authentic life means honoring the deepest and truest version of yourself. It means knowing and acting on your values with every decision. It means sharing those values and the thought process behind your decisions with others, and standing your ground despite the push back. And believe me, there will be push back! That doesn’t mean that you are wrong to honor yourself. Seeing you live your life with authenticity and self-love can bring out fear and shame in others, especially when they are not honoring themselves.
Self-care is about putting yourself first.
Self-care is about being your truest self and honoring your needs, regardless of whether it is best for others. Unless you will do real harm to someone (and by harm I mean stealing, cheating, or ruining their livelihood, not just disappointing or letting others down), acting from a place of authenticity and honoring yourself will positively impact others.
I know what you’re thinking; “Sure, that sounds great and all but what about my kids? They need me to make my decisions based on what is best for them.”
But I would challenge you:
How is something that is worse for you ever going to be better for them?
How is you living your life small and denying yourself your needs and desires making their life better?
What are you teaching them about self-love and self-care when they see you sacrificing all of your needs for their needs? Is that what you want for them and their life?
Self-Care is Gutsy
The myth of self-care is what society would have you believe; that if you make sure to get a massage once a week you will be honoring your needs and practicing self-care.
But what I want you to realize is that’s just an action. What about the intention behind the action?
Remember the true question: Who is my deepest self, what are her values, needs, and desires, and what will honor her? And then have the guts to take action from there. You can do this by getting a massage, taking a bath, asking for help, admitting that your worth is not equal to the to-do list, opening up to a friend about how hurt you are, quitting your job, or going back to work and putting your kids in day-care, if that’s what’s best for you. I’ll repeat it: What’s best for YOU, not everybody else.
So remember, self-care isn’t about the perfect bath bomb. Any scent will do! It’s about true vulnerability; opening up to yourself, knowing and loving her, honoring her deepest values and needs, and then acting and moving from that place. Every. Single. Minute.
It’s your life’s work. It’s my life’s work. It’s all of our life’s work. It takes Guts, but it will make all the difference.
Be Gutsy. I believe in you! for more on being Gutsy click HERE