For many years I taught a parenting course and in Session One, we talked about self-care. There were lists of things to do from climbing a tree to taking a bubble bath. We talked about the analogy of the oxygen mask on a plane and that parents must take care of themselves first in order to parent in the way they desired – consciously. All of those things that I advocated were very true; however, something always felt missing from the discussion. It IS important for people, whether parents or not, to take care of themselves so that they are not running on empty. A bubble bath, though, never seemed the adequate solution to keeping your life on your chosen path especially when the going gets rough. An article came out recently that totally clarified that missing piece in no uncertain terms. It nailed it!
The author, Brianna Wiest, wrote, “Self-Care is often a very unbeautiful thing. It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day. Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so absolutely exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure.”
A bubble bath may be a comforting break. It may feel wonderful to relax, unwind, and spend some time alone; however, it will not give you the tools to make your relationship with your spouse or your child the one your desire. Although the pause for that bath may be helpful, it will not stop you from yelling the next time your child refuses to do his homework or get in the car or get dressed. It will not give you the skills to inspire cooperation with your colleagues to end the workplace hostilities or communicate better with your mom so that you aren’t fighting all of the time. Trends don’t have that kind of backbone, and the term “self-care” has become trendy.
Wiest continued, “True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.” Nailed it!
Then the BIG question emerges – How do you build a life you don’t want to escape from, a life you love being immersed in, a life that is yummy and rich? You take the time to look at the places that feel uncomfortable and aren’t working the way you want them to work. You dive deep into who you are so that you show up more and more as your best self. You develop your empathy and compassion. Between the bubble baths and climbing the trees, you do the work of discovering what beliefs have influenced your life and what new beliefs you would like to embrace. You examine how you get off track and how to get back on track. You look at where you may be blaming others or blaming yourself. You handle mistakes with comfort and learn from them. You decide each day to make your relationships the incredible ones you desire. And in the process, you become more vulnerable. You become truly self-caring.
That is certainly a handful, right? How do you do this? Not alone, that’s for sure!
A great place to begin is by reading. Read anything by Brene Brown. Read Pam Dunn’s book, It’s Time to Look Inside: To See Yourself and Everyone Through the Lens of Magnificence.
When you are ready to step out a little more, attend Freedom to Be: A Life Embracing Experience. This is a catapult into self-care. We have a course coming up in Fort Lauderdale the weekend of March 2nd. You can check online for courses all around the country.
Find someone to talk with. It could be a friend. It could be a coach. It could be a therapist. Find someone with patience and curiosity.
Most importantly, adopt and develop those qualities – patience and curiosity – with and within yourself. It might be a long haul. The patience will get your though. You might get tired. The curiosity will keep you energized!