Last week, I had a moment of weakness, where I was not my best self, and I couldn't figure out what was going on right away. It wasn't until Saturday, I had nearly the whole day to myself, and I had an aha moment! I didn't have any time during the week to recharge the batteries. I'm a self proclaimed ambivert - who is an outgoing introvert. I definitely need a lot of quiet, me time to function and give my best self. I didn't realize how much I needed this, until last week. Woah. It wasn't the prettiest, and the hardest part is knowing that I teach people "How to be their Best Selves", but most of what I teach is the art of self awareness, so when moments like this arise, we can take a step back and change the behavior or be aware to prevent it in the future.
It was a huge lesson for me. I needed to figure out time to recharge! It felt nearly impossible, but looking back, I would definitely prepare myself differently so that my irritability would be managed a lot better. lol.
Anyway, this led me to thinking more and more about self care and what does it all mean?
You have probably heard these words before. It is a trendy term that is being thrown around everywhere. Magazines, publications and bloggers are talking about self care tips, that are full of "bubble baths, face masks, massages, candles, aromatherapy, etc." But it seems like it's being used a lot in a way that is glamorizing it.
So, I want to talk about what it is and what it is not, because a lot of times this term can be used and abused to have excuses for responsibilities or excuses for why we aren't getting things done.
What is Self Care?
Self care is when we take care of our own needs. It means that we become aware of what our needs are, and we take responsibility for those needs so that we can live a full and responsible life.
I was inspired to write about this because I recently read a book called "Codependent No More" by Melodie Beattie. What she talks about in it is this idea of "self care". But it's more than about codependency, it is about detachment, and realizing your own potential and how to take care of yourself and empower those around you.
Sometimes self care manifests in us taking care of everyone else rather than our own needs, and we think we are being caring, when really we are being codependent.
"Self care is an attitude toward ourselves and our lives that says, I'm responsible for myself, I am responsible for leading or not living my life, I am responsible for attending to my spiritual, emotional, physical, and financial well being. I am responsible for identifying and meeting my needs. I am responsible for solving my problems or learning to live with those I cannot solve. I am responsible for my choices. I am responsible for what I give and receive. I am responsible for setting and achieving my own goals. I am responsible for how much I enjoy life, for how much pleasure I find in daily activities. I am responsible for whom I love, and how I choose to express love. I am responsible for what I do to others, and what I allow others to do to me. I am responsible for my wants and desires. Self care is an attitude of mutual respect. It means learning to live our lives responsibly."
And I found this really important because, as I see what's going on in the media, I feel like it has been turned into this trendy thing. But, beyond all of that, self care is truly about responsibility. It is about taking care of your own needs and wants and being responsible for yourself and letting go of the need to be responsible for everyone else.
In relationships, we often end up in enmeshment or we try to control the environment around us. It manifests in different ways, so that we don't have to feel pain or we feel like we have control over our environment, because that's one of the things that is tough about being a human - that we don't have control over a lot of things. We only have control over our actions and reactions.
What is Self Care Not?
It is not is not being selfish. It is not being irresponsible. It is not spending money on clothes, when you don't have it, to make yourself feel better. It is not saying you can't go to work today, because you need a "self care" day. Although, at moments we all need a "mental health" day. This stream of consciousness got me thinking about balance, because sometimes we do need a mental health day to prevent burn out, while some of us need to get up off our asses and get a job, so that we can pay our bills.
Self Care does not mean disregarding responsibilities. It isn't necessarily glamorous or about enjoying the finer things in life. It is about filling up our own cup, so that we can pour it over into those around us.
This is what happened to me. I had drained my cup. It was gone. I had nothing left to give. It's amazing how quickly the cup goes empty, at least for me. I needed to recoil and have peace and quiet and "me time", more than I ever knew. After a day to myself, I started to feel normal again. Like I could listen attentively to others, give graciously to those around me, but it was becoming near impossible as the week wore on. Without that black and white contrast, I'm not sure I would have noticed what my true needs were. In the past, I would feel guilty that I felt this way - feeling like because I needed my own space and alone time something must be wrong with me. But, I've learned that we each have our own needs, and when we tend to them, we can give our best selves to those around us. So, when you think about self care going forward - think about how you can take responsibility for your life, choices, happiness vs. the popularized version - although these are great ways to decompress and relax. :)
Ask yourself, what do I need to fill up my cup and feel like my best self, so that I can give freely and fully to those around me.
Want to dive more into improving your self confidence? Check out my 30 Days of Self Love Challenge here.