The term “self-care” is used a LOT in my practice. More often than not, the response it conjures is not one of empowerment, but of guilt. Responses include words like “try”, “should”, “I know”, “struggle”, “I don’t know when”, etc. The backstories of those responses are ideas of not being/doing enough and/or being responsible for the outcome of every detail, emotion, and choice of those around us. A dismal lack of boundaries muddles the concept, often accompanied by the remnants of trauma (societal/inherited trauma included).
“Self-care” feels like ANOTHER thing I have to do that I am failing at.
I shy away from the phrase “self-love” (but of course that is what we are really talking about), because some of things we identify as “love”, are NOT love. When we attempt to reflect those things inward, they don’t make sense. Hollowness, disorientation, overwhelm, and a foreign language-like encounter of confusion/helplessness/frustration are common experiences for people reckoning with self-love. It can turn us off and shut down our efforts before they get started. We are so unfamiliar with both self and love that it becomes easier to default to what we know – to those things which provide scaffolding for our identity, all the outside things that depend on us or that we believe depend on us.
The lie is that self-care takes away from the rest of your life and will deprive others of what they need. The truth is that self-care gives life.
Self-care revitalizes our parts, gives life to our bones, makes us better able to manage our lives, and REALLY love. Self-care cultivates self-love. When we love ourselves we can give with substance and our accomplishments become more than vapor. It is a GIFT. Not just for you, but for the people around you. It is the key to the change you are seeking. Self-care should not be a struggle *preacher voice*.
Self-care can become a part of your nature.
There is nothing sexy about martyrdom. There is nothing progressive about being a pack mule (no offense meant to actual pack mules). There is no liberty on either side of exploitation. There is no revolution without self-love, without wholeness and fortification. There is no true love without wholeness/integrity. There is no healing, no health, no hope for a good quality of life without self-care.
Visualize giving care to you to hold you up.
Visualize loving without resentment.
Visualize inhabiting your own beauty instead of starving for someone else to recognize it.
Visualize bathing in overflow instead of being buried with overwhelm.
Visualize your insecurities and doubts dissolving…letting you loose.
Visualize false beliefs being revealed and left on the road behind you.
Visualize your life free of the paralyzing influence of others.
Visualize your light and warmth and brilliance.
Visualize being grounded.
Visualize having agency over your emotions.
Visualize a sound mind absent of anxiety.
Visualize receiving support without having to be in distress.
Visualize a life of ritual and celebration.
Visualize a new way of loving.
Visualize being who you are.
Visualize a life without jealousy.
Visualize hearing your own voice.
Visualize connecting with your spirit, your ancestors, the earth, and your Higher Power.
Visualize being irrepressible, un-exploitable, un-abusable.
Visualize your uncompromisable value, worth, and relevance.
Visualize being able to keep your word.
Visualize asking for what you need without shame.
Visualize being enough…being capable.
Visualize being able to dream.
Visualize a new legacy.
Self-care cultivates FREEDOM.
Do it. Don’t wait. Do a self-care thing, right now. Repeat.
Be an advocate for your own healing. Effective, sustainable activism begins within.
Fall is the time for this. Pull in the energy you extend outward. Pull your energy into your roots, into your bones – allow the not-so necessary things fall away and what is sustaining to come in. You can do it and I’ve got your back.