It’s A Discipline.
Compassion and self care is something I’ve been so mindful of lately. We love our families, our pets, our friends and so many other things in life but how often do we love ourselves? The way self-care is portrayed today is completely and utterly backward.
First, self-care as a concept is almost exclusively aimed at women because, after all, women are busy caring of everyone. Unfortunately there is always the underlying suggestion that while women should be taking care of themselves, it doesn’t absolve them from taking care of everyone else.
Secondly, self-care is often characterized as an indulgence. This means both that the practice of self-care is something that is only occasionally allowed and that it should feel like an indulgence.
Self-care is not an indulgence. Self-care is a discipline. It requires tough-mindedness, a deep and personal understanding of your priorities, and a respect for both yourself and the people with whom you choose to spend your life.
If we are being honest, self-care is actually kind of boring. Self-care is a actually a discipline—it takes discipline to continually make “good for you” as opposed to doing what feels good right here, right now. It’s takes discipline to refuse to take on the responsibility for other people’s emotional well-being—and, it takes discipline to take full and complete responsibility for your own well-being.
Samples of self care include:
- Turning off the TV instead of watching another episode of “The Crown” because the alarm is going off at 5am so you can get to the gym.
- Declining the second drink at the office holiday party. It might even be declining the first drink.
- Saying “no” to things you don’t want to do even if it causes someone to be angry with you.
- Maintaining financial independence.
- Doing work that matters.
- Letting others manage their own affairs and take care of themselves.
Think about the oxygen mask on a plane. In case of emergency, you are instructed to put yours on first—before helping family and fellow passengers—so you can better care for others. Life works the same way; when we exercise self-compassion, love, and care, we show up bigger and brighter for ourselves and for others. Self-care is not something that’s done once in awhile when the world gets crazy. It’s what should be done every day, every week, month in and month out. It’s taking care of oneself in a way that doesn’t require “indulging” in order to restore balance. It’s a commitment to stay healthy and balanced as a regular practice.
Time is often cited as an issue for lack of self-care, but self-care and me time can be scheduled it in, just like a meeting, lunch with a friend, or a doctor appointment. Ironically, most people find that when they truly care for themselves—exercising all the discipline that it requires—they are finding they are in a much stronger place to give to those around them. They note they are a fully engaged colleague, a more grateful spouse, and happier parents. Those who take care of themselves find they have the energy to take care of others joyfully because caregiving doesn’t come at their own expense.
Self-compassion is something we all need to do. It’s easy to get wrapped up in self-limiting beliefs and fears—those who take care of themselves also have the energy to work with meaning and purpose toward a worthy goal. Which means they are also the people most likely to make the world a better place for all of us
What forms of self-care do you enjoy?