The act of self-care has become yet another thing women are expected to be good at. Did you use the right filter for that ‘gram of your impeccably prepared acai bowl? Are the candles you just lit in your Snap story made from organic hand-poured soy or are they that mass-produced factory shit? And how can we stem the inevitable capitalist tide from turning something as simple as self-care into yet another thing to be bought and sold? These are all things I wrestle with as I order Dominos in sweatpants under the guise of ‘being good to myself.’ – quote via Amil Niazi
I came across this quote in an article by Brianna Weist on Self Care that had me nodding my head and shouting “Yes, that” at practically each sentence I read.
We hear so much about self care in this culture, especially at this time of year. But what does it actually mean? Beyond that, what does it look like on a practical, concrete level in our daily lives?
Is it something we squeeze in between carpooling our children, going to the grocery store, doing laundry, creating Pinterest worthy birthday parties, and still managing to be on that 9 am conference call?
No, it’s not. We don’t get to cross soothing bubble bath off our to do list and call it self care.
It’s deeper and wider and broader than that. It’s a complete reframe, a radical perspective shift and a fierce commitment to taking ourselves seriously.
Let’s start with the phrase self care. It sounds dainty and lovely, pleasing and pretty. It’s breezy and light, frivolous and fun. It’s something we can get around to..or not.
How about we call it what, in my mind, it really is? Deep and profound self love. Has a different energy to it, don’t you think? It carries more weight and gravity, texture and heft.
It’s really more about parenting yourself that pampering yourself. Here’s what it has looked like to me and my clients over the years:
Going to AA or any other 12 step program to address your numbing out and avoidance of pain rather that continuing to blame others for your misery.
Not engaging in gossip because it eats away at your integrity and how you want to show up in your life.
Getting a financial planner to help you look at how you spend money and create some savings instead of reckless in- the- moment spending because it feels good.
Learning how to delay gratification.
Eating foods that allow your body to function at it’s highest capacity because you want to feel good from the inside out, not because swim suit season is around the corner.
Exercising because your body craves movement rather than as punishment for having a Venti Salted Caramel hot chocolate at Starbucks.
Leaving a relationship because you know in your heart it’s time to go, that there is more waiting for you on the other side.
Staying in a relationship and being open to honestly looking at your part in it’s demise.
Having difficult, uncomfortable conversations with people instead of sitting on your truth to keep the peace .
Saying “No” to people, places, situations, and events that don’t light your soul on fire and saying “Yes” to the things that do.
Making that appointment with the doctor or dentist to care for your physical health that you have been putting off because everyone else comes before you.
Forgiving yourself for all the times you did not practice self love, or at least entertaining the idea that you are someone worthy of your own compassion.
Taking action toward healing your wounds so that you can move through life with ease, grace and freedom.
Paying attention to the cues your body/intuition gives you about who is a safe recipient of your vulnerable heart instead of giving it away to the first person who comes along.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. But you get the point.
This level of self love is decidedly un-pretty. It’s messy. Inconvenient. Often, there is nothing tangible to show for it. It requires us to roll up our sleeves and muck around in the complete experience of our humanity, not just the parts we like.
It is a spiritual discipline, a daily choice we make even we would rather do something else. It’s in the details, the nuances and nooks and crannies of how we take radical responsibility for the energy we bring to ourselves and the world in each moment. Easy? No. Worth it? Absolutely.
When we become accountable for and to ourselves, the esteem in which we hold ourselves skyrockets. When we meet challenges head on instead of procrastinating or avoiding them all together, we begin to experience ourselves as worthy, lovable and deserving of richness and fullness. We start to believe in our innate goodness. We start to accept ourselves. We start to trust ourselves. We have entered the sacred space of deep self love.
If you want to bathe in something, bathe in this. Let it’s potency wash over you. Feel it soaking into every cell of your being. Relax. Breathe. AAHHHH.. this is where you were meant to live.