Taking Care of You– Just for You. An Alternative View of Self-Care.
Taking Care of You – Just for You
We always talk about the need for self love and self care in order to be able to give to others—don’t give from an empty cup. While this is true, this essay is dedicated to the novel concept of taking care of you just to be able to give more to you.
Perhaps this thought makes you uneasy. It is certainly not a topic that is discussed frequently. Take a moment to sit with that thought. I will take care of me - for me! As Viviana Medel reminded us in an interview with Just Stay Curious, “You are with you your entire life.” Since you will be with you your entire life, don’t you want that you to be the best possible you that you can be? Of course you do. So how is this accomplished? Baby steps and unconditional love.
First, let’s think about how to be our best selves. Since we will be living with ourselves our entire lives, it really merits consideration of the question,
“Who do I really want to be?”
This will assist us in determining what steps it will take to get there. Of course, this is an ongoing process that we’ll have to repeat for the rest of our lives. Compile a list of what you want yourself to be. What does your list look like? Here are some suggestions for your consideration:
· I want peace in my head;
· I want compassion in my heart;
· I want to be present in each moment;
· I want to be physically healthy.
Note there are only four topics. This is by design. Once you have identified your four topics, next, take some time to identify three things you can do to bring about these goals. This may be a good journaling project. Here are some examples:
· Things that will allow me to have peace in my head include: paying down my debt; recognizing, reducing, and, where possible, eliminating my toxic relationships; and meditation.
· Things that will bring compassion in my heart include: volunteering once a month for a cause that is important to me; keeping a bowl of change by the door, so I can easily grab a handful to give to the homeless man on the corner each day; reading and educating myself on the concerns of the world.
· Things that will help me be present include: practicing mindfulness; practicing gratitude; being aware of, and celebrating my present-ness.
· Things that will contribute to my physical health include: daily exercise, drinking plenty of water, eating food that is good for my body.
Now post that list where you can see it every day.
Baby Steps – Learning from Past Mistakes
Have you ever had the experience of making one or more New Year’s resolutions? Followed by the experience of looking up three weeks into January to realize you have abandoned one or more of your resolutions? Don’t repeat that cycle here. Now that you have accepted that you are with you your entire life and you want to be the best you possible, it may be tempting to rush headlong into your “new you” project. Don’t. It is a sure fire way to crash and burn.
Did you know that people tend to overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, but underestimate what they can get done in three years? Give yourself permission to establish a three year plan. Pick one thing – one thing to incorporate into your current life as your main focus. Identify one other thing that you believe you should be aware of and working towards.
For example, perhaps you will start with a 2 minute meditation in the morning each day. Further, you identify “drinking more water” as something you can work towards, without it being a focus. Identify ways you can help yourself succeed. Starting with a 2 minute meditation, for example, is going to be far less intrusive and uncomfortable than starting with a 20 minute meditation. This will more likely lead to a consistent meditation practice. The goal is a consistent practice. Try not to over achieve in the beginning. This is more likely to lead to failure.
The same rule applies to drinking more water. Perhaps 64 ounces is optimal. Remind yourself you are taking baby steps. This may just mean filling your water bottle at the beginning of the day and keeping it close. Each time you take a sip, celebrate! On the days you look up from your desk in the late afternoon, and come face to face with your full water bottle, love yourself enough not to berate yourself. This is a goal you are working towards. Remind yourself that tomorrow you can do better. Would setting an alarm assist you? Can you find a water drinking buddy in the office or that you can text regularly like Jessie Sarah? What steps can you take to gently move yourself towards being a person who drinks more water? Perfection is the enemy of the good. Do not ever tell yourself you have to be perfect.
Over time, you will not even notice the time cost of meditation. Over time, you won’t need to think about water on such a conscious level. But you will notice the benefits, and that’s what matters.
Adding Habits in Three Month Increments
Put your urge to accomplish everything all at once aside. Get out of your own way (I have to tell myself this every single day, seriously). Do not implement more than one main habit and one habit to work towards at a time. Do not launch a new one for three months. In doing this, you will ease yourself into a whole new you in 36 months. If you are lucky enough to live another 36 months, you will either be as happy as you are now, less happy than you are now, or more happy than you are now. You have little to no power or say about much of what goes on in your life. You do, however, have complete control over whether or not you love yourself. You have complete control over whether you choose to identify steps to loving yourself better. You have complete control over whether or not you take those steps in a common sense, loving way.
Enjoy your journey!