Are you a slave to your To Do list? Do you feel like you’re only allowed to relax once everything is done and your list is empty?
Do you feel guilty if you do something just for yourself? Do you worry that self care is selfish or horribly indulgent?
Where did these feelings come from? Did you grow up in an environment where only your achievements were valued? Did you grow up in an environment where the adults were tired, unwell or unavailable, leaving you with a strong sense of responsibility to help get things done? Maybe the people around you also struggled with self-care and you feel guilty any time you were found to be loafing around while they were working hard.
You may know all of that but what are you going to do about it?
Creating new attitudes towards self care is not easy. But it’s important work.
Self-care can be about the basics like making sure we are clothed and fed, kept warm and safe. For some people even the basics are something they have to learn themselves as adults.
Self-care can also be about allowing play. Time spent doing what we feel like without a deadline, without an output, without a gold star at the end.
Self-care can be about tending to our bodies, noticing when they are tired, allowing them to rest and allowing them to move joyfully.
Self-care can be about what we don’t do as well as what we do. About setting boundaries. About saying no about not having to be all things to all people. It can be about learning to tolerate the discomfort that comes when we can’t alleviate the pain of others. Self-care can be about gently reappraising our role of rescuer, doer, saver, get things done-er.
Self-care can be about stepping into the role of kindness giver to our bodies, of noticing and being in physical form.
Self-care can be about allowing the frivolous. Tapping into our senses. Doing things purely for delight, that is, our delight, our own delight, not delighting others. Self-care is an inward orientation, and listening to the quiet voice of need as well as whim and whimsy.
Self care is unlearning hardness, deafness to our bodies, unlearning critical appraisal of our leisure, unlearning callousness, unlearning the need to be permanently productive, unlearning a commitment to constant movement and striving.
A learning of gentleness. A learning of kind trusting and well wishing. A learning of allowing in the soft small and beautiful. A learning of unclenching.
Ultimately self-care is a learning of the self. Beginning to see ourselves in the centre of our lives beginning to chart the topographical contours of what we love what we like what we need and what keeps us well.