A friend recently told me that whenever she hears the words ‘self-care’ she immediately quits listening. A wall goes up within her.
She continued: “For me, the term self-care contains an underlying should. It contains this sense of something that has to be done daily, like doing the dishes or eating broccoli. It is not something that leads to growth or healing. A certain amount just needs to be done in order to function.
I know that what I’m describing isn’t how you talk about self-care but… I get stuck on the word ‘self-care’ and then tune out whatever comes next.”
Can you relate to my friend’s experience?
Do you also experience either a slight twinge of guilt or a full-fledged wall of resistance when you hear ‘self-care’?
Does it remind you of all the things you know you ‘should’ be doing but aren’t (for whatever, perfectly valid, reason)?
For myself, even, there were many years when the term self-care evoked guilt, a sense of obligation, and complete resistance.
It has been a long and winding journey for me to get to a place where the term self-care evokes a sense of nourishment, support, and strength. To get there, I’ve had to rewrite what self-care means.
For me, now, there are two levels to self-care.
Self-Care, Level One:
The first level is somewhat akin to what my friend speaks of above, with a couple of caveats.
For this level, I define Self-Care as: the small things you do on a (mostly) daily basis that nourish and support you.
The 2 caveats are:
- Your self-care may look very different than my self-care. Perhaps a long conversation with a trusted friend for you; 5 minutes staring into space doing nothing for me.
- If it feels like an obligation or a ‘should’, it isn’t self-care. Is there something else that calls to you that doesn’t have a ‘should’ attached? If so, do that instead.
The second level of self-care is what I call Sacred Self-Care.
I define Sacred Self-Care as those activities, practices, people, etc that bring you fully (safely, gently) into your body and into the present moment.
This level has less to do with what you are doing and more to do with how you are being as you do it. It has to do with bringing a deeper level of awareness into your thoughts, your actions, your words.
Eventually everything becomes self-care.
As we approach self-care in this manner, eventually everything we do (whether it is a ‘self-care’ activity or not) becomes self-care. When we are truly present in our bodies and in the present moment, even things we normally dislike (like eating broccoli or doing the dishes ;), have the potential to be self-care.
Every moment of our life truly becomes sacred.
This is the essence of Sacred Self-Care.
This is the essence of everything I teach and of the healing sessions I offer.
Self-care, as I teach it, does lead to tangible healing and growth.
Through doing self-care in this way we become more resourced and resilient. Deeply held traumas are gently met and dissolved as our capacity to be present to what is true, what is real, and what is needed in the moment, increases.
Basically, more of *us* becomes available in every moment of our lives.
We are better able to meet life’s challenges and joys without resisting, collapsing, or withdrawing (at least not for very long). We become better at meeting ourselves… all of ourselves… our light, our shadows, our pain, our joy, our fear, our grief, our deep, deep ability to love…
And then, magically, effortlessly, we begin to be able to meet, to love, to respect, and to tend to those we love – our partners, children, our greater families, our friends, our communities, our earth!, and on and on and on – on a deeper level than ever before.
We begin to move effortlessly in the direction of work (and play) that truly feeds us and that allows us to contribute our true gifts and unique talents. Our lives (whether unassuming or grand) inspire others to the same.
We discover that just us being our unique, vulnerable, authentic selves brings the possibility of healing and transformation to those we encounter.
For me, self-care is a path of endless growth and healing, first for ourselves and then rippling out in all directions.
How about you?
What do you think (or feel) when you hear ‘self-care?’ What tangible benefits have you experienced as a result of your self-care practice?
Photo credit: Pontus