Not taking care of yourself? Not putting You at the top of your list like all the women’s magazines advise? Most of these articles advocate some form of trying harder. Make yourself the priority! Give yourself a reward! Get a pedicure! (Why does all self care start with a pedicure? As if the road to peace and happiness runs through your sparkly toenails…) And the ultimate self-care reward… wait for it… Massage!
Don’t get me wrong, these activities are lovely, I enjoy them myself. The problem is we have it backwards. These tactics will never work until we address WHY we’re not finding the space to take care of ourselves. Notice that I said space and not time.
The reason why you aren’t eating, food journaling, exercising, sleeping, meditating, or de-stresssing the way you want is not because you’re too busy, it’s because you have a damn good reason not to.
Any of these sound familiar?
Paying attention to my body’s hunger signals is hard.
Keeping a food journal is a hassle.
I don’t have time to plan meals.
It’ll never work.
I’m just going to fail again. (aka The Eyeore Defense)
I get more praise and attention for taking care of others than for taking care of me.
If I stop doing for others, I’ll feel scary emotions.
To move into self care mode, find the sucky reasons (SR’s) that are holding you back and use all those smarts you have to question them.
Here are some ways you could question the above SR’s:
What takes more time out of your life? Taking care of yourself, or not? Give yourself detailed examples of how not taking care of yourself takes more time and how taking care of yourself takes less. They’re there, I promise.
Rather than giving it a go, they Eyeore defense allows you to fail now and be done with it. That is indeed sucky.
What’s the cost of that praise and attention you’re working so hard to get? What happens when you work so hard and you don’t get it? In the esteemed words of the modern sage/nutball Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for ya?”
What would happen if you didn’t jump in and do for others? If it’s not enough that doing this would be an awesome thing for you–how might that be an awesome thing to do for them?
Can you die of feeling an emotion? Can you die (inside) from not feeling an emotion?
Self care is an attitude, not an activity.
I can be completely hair-on-fire busy and feel peaceful, content and caring toward myself. I can be getting one of those aforementioned pedicures and be a hot mess of stress.
What you’re doing and your level of activity in life matter less than how you’re THINKING about it and yourself. When you dissolve the beliefs that stand between you and caring for yourself, you’ll find a way to get enough sleep, fuel your body properly, exercise and take your Flintstone vitamins regardless of what’s going on. You’ll be calmer and more centered even in the storm of activity that is your life.
You’re never going to “put your oxygen mask on first” if you believe you’re getting a bigger emotional payoff for putting everyone else’s mask on first and leaving yourself lying passed out in your airplane seat. It will feel really hard to perform the self-loving acts that will take you to your natural weight until you disprove the beliefs getting in the way.
Once you dissolve all those sucky reasons for not putting yourself at the center of your life, then by all means, go get yourself a massage.