Self-care is a buzzword that people like to throw around, and companies like to use when marketing their products. But it’s a word that very few people understand. But the marketing folks love it because we are willing to spend so much on taking care of ourselves. But it isn’t what we truly need.
I know that I don’t fully comprehend what engaging in self-care means. I know what it isn’t – everything that I have been doing most of my life. I am not the only one. Most people are not engaging in self-care. There I wrote it. I am not throwing any stones; I am just as guilty of not engaging in self-care as everyone else.
Why is that, I wonder? Self-care is good for us. When we take care of ourselves, we are better able to show up for ourselves, and for others. Because it is hard, that is why. And it makes us uncomfortable. It makes me so uncomfortable, and therefore I avoid it to my detriment.
- Self-care means knowing who you are and your limits.
Engaging in Self-Care
When I want to know more about something I Google it. I did the same with self-care. It is overwhelming. So many posts about the ‘top five self-care tips’ and the ‘levels of self-care.’ I am like, ‘great, I can barely do one of those things.’
And so, I kept reading, and I kept searching. There is no holy grail of self-care, that, I am sure. I found one blog that I felt explained self-care accurately. Specifically outlining the difficulty that we all feel in attempting to engage in self-care.
In the blog post “30 Excruciating Examples of What Real Self-Care Looks Like,” the author was writing to my soul. That is the truth behind all of the fluff around self-care. It’s hard work and it sucks and that is why no one does it.
But I Want To
Yup, it is hard, and it ain’t pretty but I want to engage in self-care. I have been woefully neglecting myself. I have been engaging with the very opposite of self-care. Running around trying to take care of everyone and everything around me. But never myself.
So, what do I do? What do any of us do? With all of those ‘top ten lists out there taunting you with their guides to self-care and bliss. I know when I read those, my anxiety increases, I want to do those things. I want to do all ten of those things so that I can have that blissful life that those things promise.
There is no way I can even begin to work on all ten of those at once. I know, I know, those lists aren’t supposed to be a to-do challenge (right?) but a guide. But the overall message is there. If you aren’t doing all of them, you are failing.
The Opposite of Self-Care
On the inside, I am naked in a mason jar. On the outside, I am getting frustrated, angry even, and everything irritates and annoys me. I am aware that those are not necessarily appropriate feelings. And so I do what I have been doing my whole life; holding those feelings inside.
But then when I do that I am not taking care of myself at all. I am doing the opposite. I am continuing to hurt myself, deny myself my real feelings because my real feelings are not acceptable. In part because I don’t understand my feelings well enough.
A considerable part, the foundational part of self-care, is knowing yourself well enough to know what you need. And act on what you need, to put up healthy boundaries – to take care of yourself. I know what I have been doing my whole life is not taking care of myself. As I try to figure out that, I will make mistakes, stumble, but I will continue to learn.
Stop With the Lists
Can we stop with the lists? I know that those top ten or top five lists are great and we as bloggers get more views because of those lists, but let’s stop. Life isn’t about lists. It isn’t about doing the top five things to “ensure” your happiness.
All of those lists do is remind me that I am not doing ALL OF THE THINGS that will “ensure” my happiness. All it does is add stress to my universe, and let me tell you, I don’t need it. None of us need MORE stress. We need LESS stress.
I don’t have the answers for you. Only you can find those for yourself. Ugh, I know, right? What do you mean, there are no answers that I can find outside of myself? Yup, pretty much. Gather ideas from the outside world, and yes, gulp, those lists, but don’t do all of them. Pick one. Focus on that. Ignore the rest.
Engaging with Self
Working on developing and having a healthy mind is engaging with self-care. I don’t know why that never seems to be on any of those lists. And because we (I) don’t see it on any lists, we (I) don’t think of it as an option. Or forget that it is an option, if we knew it was.
I am leaning towards saying that focusing on healthy mind is the only option. No matter what is happening on the outside of yourself, in your world, it is being colored, skewed, by your perception of the world so far. Coming into a healthy mind is at the foundation of developing yourself, and within that is the ultimate self-care.
This idea that whatever is wrong in our life, in our world, has something to do with things outside of ourselves is a lie. And we use that lie to run from ourselves, to run from self-care, because it is ourselves that we fear the most.