I’ve been doing this thing lately where I ask “how can I best take care of myself in this moment?” and then I pause long enough to hear the answer. The thing about our hearts, is that they know. This year I’ve placed a high priority on taking care of myself and am constantly reorganizing my commitments and schedule to find balance. It’s not a fixed point you know, taking care of yourself and juggling all of the commitments that life requires of us. My philosophy about self-care and self-love is that you can’t show up fully to the present moment and to the people that you love when you don’t feel whole.
On the surface, self-care can include practices like receiving adequate sleep, spending time in nature, practicing yoga, getting a massage, taking a long bath, or engaging in supportive eating habits. These kinds of activities nourish ourselves and help to restore our hearts and minds; they take care of our most basic needs. And we can practice all of these things and still find ourselves feeling internally restless, uneasy, uninspired, harsh, inadequate, anxious, sad, or unkind. Beyond all of the self-care rituals we can tend to is perhaps a greater, more gentle, and necessary way of being with ourselves.
This year, I started with the practices. I went to yoga almost every day and spent a lot of time outside with my feet in a stream. I collected rocks, slept under the stars, and journaled regularly. I said ‘no’ to things when I was tired and gave myself plenty of permission to rest. But the real work and internal shifts came by getting to know myself deeply enough to identify underlying core beliefs about my worth and how achievements and accomplishments fueled the reaching for feelings of ‘enough.’ The self-love came when I allowed myself to be imperfect after making a mistake, or when I showered myself in kindness after making the wrong choice. The deep self-love came when I interrupted a habitual thought patterning of shame and negative self-talk and stopped myself from continually replaying out situations in my mind, of living in the past.
Our society talks a lot about self-love and self-care, especially these days. But there are still so many people feeling lonely, disappointed, and not okay. I think it’s partly because we have mixed up the intention of doing self-care practices with the intention of being someone who cares about themself. Self-love and self-care are not about excusing your behaviors or giving yourself permission to over-indulge or over-consume, they are about moments when you choose to hold space for the human being that you are. Self-love is about becoming familiar with the thoughts that pass through our minds everyday and learning that we are not our thoughts and we are not our feelings. The practice is in acknowledging the way you are unfolding and blooming to the present moment, no matter how messy or scary that might be. Its requires active and continual effort to honor your existence, tune in, listen, and then make a choice based on what it is you need.
I invite you to begin treating yourself the same way you would treat someone you dearly love. It can get messy because it might ask us to uncover some truths about our self-worth, feelings of value, and ability to set boundaries with time, people, and our resources. It might stir up feelings of regret, anger, shame, or dissatisfaction. And all of that is okay; we can allow ourselves to feel the way we feel without having to act or changing anything. That is self-love.
I offer you ultimate permission to unequivocally be yourself. To feel bad and still be okay, to be imperfect and still enough. To be a work in progress and still a brilliant masterpiece. I encourage you to take as much time as you need, to move slowly, and to work on only one thing at a time. I invite you to learn about where you hurt and why, and to set an intention to send the love there. Connect to what inspires you and chase those little sparks of magic. Be gentle with your current self, the person you once were, and the person that you are becoming.
be brave enough to love yourself more than you think you deserve.
and then a little more.