Happy Valentine’s Day to Me

In this week’s talk at the Bob Burger Rec Center, we focused on self-care. What it is, why it’s important, why don’t we do it enough, and how to break that cycle.

So much of our daily lives is spent giving to others. From the everyday tasks of preparing meals, shuttling kids around, and being a shoulder to lean on for friends and family, we are so often serving others and expressing our love for others. But what about you? How do we show love for ourselves?

In getting my thoughts together about self-care, I kept coming up totally blank about how I practice self-care. I exercise… somewhat regularly. I get massages… once in a while. In fact this reminded me I have a gift certificate for a massage that I received for Christmas and still haven’t used. It seemed that I, too, had a bit to learn about practicing self-care.

And then it occurred to me that I do have at least one every day self-care practice – my morning routine. I started this sometime within the past year and it has changed my world. I get up about an hour and a half before my son does and spend time writing in my journal, sometimes reading, and preparing for my day. Experiencing the quiet of the morning before Henry wakes up, seeing the sunrise sometimes, just having time to myself, even if at times I use it to straighten up the house, really is a gift to me. And I totally feel the difference on the days when it doesn’t happen. I’m sure so does Henry!

 

self care is self love_1So, what is self-care? Just as when you are giving care to someone else, you are expressing love, self-care is an expression of love to yourself. It includes all the health and lifestyle decisions you make for yourself to get and stay physically, mentally and emotionally fit. Self-care is about doing little (and sometimes big) things every day to make sure you are being taken care of so that you can be the best you in the world. It’s the principle behind putting your own oxygen mask on before helping someone else. If you run out of oxygen, how are you ever going to be able to help others?

Self-care looks like…

  • Making time for yourself
  • Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive of you
  • Saying “No”
  • Creating a home environment you love
  • Establishing healthy habits and routines
  • Cleaning up clutter in your life
  • Making pleasure a top priority every day

I think we’d all agree that nothing on that list is a “bad” thing to do, so why don’t we do it for ourselves? Well, you might be afraid people will say you’re…

  • Selfish
  • Arrogant
  • Indulgent
  • Too entitled
  • Extravagant
  • It’s not responsible

Does any of that come up for you? Can you see your mother’s face in your mind or feel that “friend’s” judgment when you share about the weekend getaway you managed to plan just for you. We are so hard on ourselves and others. Wouldn’t a kinder way be to celebrate our own and others’ acts of self care?

Self-care on a regular basis is so much more than an act of indulgence. It’s more than the occasional massage or mani/pedi appointment. In practicing self-care, you are making choices and decisions and taking actions that honor yourself… so that you are better able to fulfill your life’s purpose, so that you can indeed serve others and stay healthy.

The truth is without self-care, there may eventually be no self.

We are all unique souls living in these physical bodies. We are each here with a unique gift, a unique purpose to share in the world. Each day we are learning to be more of who we really are and to share our gifts with confidence. How will you hear your our heart when you are continually moving from one obligation and commitment to the next all in support of others?

This can only happen when we know ourselves, love ourselves and treat ourselves with respect and care.

Practicing self-care is not only beneficial in each act alone. The actually doing of it is, of course, good for you. For example, feeding yourself healthy, whole foods is good for your body, or having a regular creative outlet gives you balance in life. But the beautiful twist of learning how to practice self-care regularly is that we have to grow into our true selves even more and make some shifts internally to stick to these practices.

We have to overcome our fears and give up…

  • Judgment of yourself and others
  • Being right
  • Expecting others to read your mind
  • Your complaints
  • Saying “yes” to every request
  • Guilt
  • Being a martyr

In order to give up these things, we need to learn to communicate what you need, ask for help, and learn to share responsibility. Simple, right? How is it possible to shift all that?

With patience, commitment and practice. Build a new awareness of these feelings – guilt, fear, anxiety that you are being selfish – as indicators of an opportunity to let go and look deeper. Ask yourself why you feel guilt over buying something for yourself or taking time just for you. Why do you continue to give too much and put yourself last?

As you practice this awareness and choose differently, your self-care muscle will get stronger. Remember self-care is an expression of self-love. So let’s start looking at all there is to love about you!

Put on some nice music. Get your favorite pen and journal. Find a comfortable spot where writing will feel good. Pause and reflect on the question:

What do you love about yourself?

Think of anything and everything. From “I love my fingernails” to “I love how awesome I am at math!” or “I love my strong legs.” Leave a comment sharing one item from your list and I will create a visual tool for you to post as your wallpaper or print out to keep a reminder nearby of what you love about you!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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