Most of us believe, in theory, that we should make efforts to take better care of ourselves, through better eating, more exercise, or working our recovery programs. But we can fall into the trap of forgetting to engage or these behaviors. I certainly promote self-care to my psychotherapy and life coaching clients on a regular basis. On a recent vacation, I spent the first few days actually sleeping and ordering room service. It was a sign just how tired I have been and how I lost touch even with my own self care.
Under the surface, there might be another reason we don’t follow through: we don’t really believe that we deserve to tend to our personal well-being. Self-care is often erroneously and critically labeled selfishness. It’s not. Even Jesus and Gandhi took time for themselves, withdrawing from the crowds to tend to their spirits. For me, I have found it so urgent to get the message out of my book, I have forgotten myself in the process.
Time spent in self-care fills us up so we can give of ourselves and not be left dried and shriveled up like last summer’s grapes left on the vine. Most of us can relate to the feeling of running on empty. This automotive analogy is actually a good one. What can our car do for us with no gasoline in the tank? Be a large, shiny driveway ornament? Not so useful. So why do we expect ourselves to be able to run and give and work and cook and clean and put on a happy face with nothing fueling us? It’s crazy, and it’s high time we kick crazy to the curb.
Meredith Watkins from Recovery View says “Make yourself a priority. Make the time to do the things that fill you up. For some, it may be a leisurely stroll on the beach. For others, 30 uninterrupted minutes with a great book. Or a fabulous bike ride or coffee with your friends or seeing your loving therapist (see how I slid that one in?). Or seeing a movie in the theatre.” It doesn’t have to be a weeklong trip to Tahiti (though if you get the opportunity, I highly recommend jumping at it). In fact, they should be the small things that you love. The ones that bring you peace and a sense of reconnection with yourself. Small things are doable and can be easily incorporated into your everyday life. Pick a few and put them on your calendar, in your Blackberry, whatever — and then actually do them.
For those resisters who think, “I can’t possibly take that time. I won’t be able to be there as much for my kids and spouse and boss” — stop making excuses. Because, honestly, that’s what that is. If your kids or spouse or boss had to choose between someone who was happy and creative and energized when they were with them or someone who was barely hanging on by a thread, who do you think they would choose? Who would you choose? By investing in yourself, you create dividends to extend to those around you. When you’re running on empty, all you’re giving them are your fumes. Not pleasant.
Put aside those faulty notions of the nobility of killing yourself for the greater good. Realize that your greatest gift to give others is the best version of yourself. You have gifts to give the universe, but more importantly, without self care, thsoe gifts will not be heard. So starting right now, make it a day of balance, self care, and profound self love. You deserve it.
A former professor of mine used to say, “What you see depends on where you look”. She was speaking, of course, about the significance of perspective. I suppose it was her adaptation of the philosopher Epictetus’ statement that “Men are not disturbed by things, but by the view which they take of them”.
My professor went on to say that if you are looking for garbage, you will most certainly find it. However, if you are looking for beauty, you will most certainly find that as well. It seems that there is an abundance of both in this world, but the degree to which we focus on one over the other determines how we experience the world: as full of hope and possibility, or as a campaign to make us constantly miserable.
Of course, it’s perfectly normal to become irritated and even angry with certain people and situations at times. However, when carrying around those feelings becomes a way of life, the only one hurt by the constant presence of these emotions is you. It is your heart rate that is racing, your chest that is tight, your time that has evaporated while formulating the perfect retort to someone who has wronged you. Do you really want to feel this way? Probably not.
The author Byron Katie refers to the ancient Chinese wisdom of the Tao Te Ching in her approach to shifting perspective. In her book, A Thousand Names for Joy, she says, “Inside and outside always match — they’re reflections of each other. The world is the mirror image of your mind.” If you believe the world is hostile and will ultimately crush you, your experience of any situation will reflect that belief. People with this worldview often say things like, “Why does this always to me?”
But Katie suggests a subtle, but profound shift to this belief: “Everything happens for you, not to you.” You can begin to see that even the painful or undesirable experiences in life are there for you to learn, to feel something different, or to help you grow and mature as a person.
Try adopting this kind of perspective, even for a day. See if your anxiety decreases and your depression lifts a smidge as you realize there is a lot of beauty out there. You just have to look for it.
According to Shiv Khera, author of You Can Win, failures most often occur for one of the following seven reasons:
Lack of persistence. More people fail not because they lack knowledge or talent, but just because they quit. It is important to remember two words: persistence and resistance. Persist in what must be done and resist what ought not to be done. We all have had setbacks in life. Failing does not mean we are failures!
Lack of conviction. People who lack conviction take the middle of the road. But what happens in the middle of the road? You get run over. People without conviction go along to get along because they lack confidence and courage. They conform in order to get accepted even when they know that what they are doing is wrong.
Rationalizing. Winners may analyze but never rationalize. Losers rationalize and have a book full of excuses to tell you why they could not succeed.
Not learning from past mistakes. Some people live and learn, and some only live. Wise people learn from their mistakes. Failure is a teacher if we have the right attitude. I’ve always said experience is the name we give to our mistakes.
Lack of discipline. Anyone who has accomplished anything worthwhile has never done it without discipline. Discipline takes self-control, sacrifice and avoiding distractions and temptations. It means staying focused.
Poor self-esteem. Poor self-esteem is a lack of self-respect and self-worth. People with low self-esteem are constantly trying to find themselves, rather than creating the person they want to be.
Fatalistic attitude. A fatalistic attitude prevents people from accepting responsibility for their position in life. They attribute success and failure to luck. They resign themselves to their fate, regardless of their efforts, that whatever has to happen will happen anyway.
If you see yourself in any of these, you have the power to change your “failures” into future successes. This is a corrective roadmap for your success and achievement…Take it and drive forward!
says Jackie Lapin who tours the world teaching Conscious Creation and Personal Frequency Management. She is the author of “The Art of Conscious Creation; How You Can Transform the World.
Life is difficult. This is not a news flash, and yet we are confronted with a daily barrage of how wonderful your life “should” be. If only you follow these five easy steps, they promise, you will find contentment and true bliss in your marriage, family, job and physical fitness routine. And! It can all be yours for only $19.99 if you order now. What a deal!
So we follow the steps, pay the money and envision all the wonderful things soon to come our way. Then you get in a fender-bender on the way home from work. Your baby throws up all over your new outfit. The economy takes a dive and you realize you are upside-down in your house mortgage.
And you wonder why. Why does this always happen to me? I’m a good person and trying really hard to do all the things Oprah tells me to.
We begin to wonder if the problem lies with us. We are somehow defective and certainly don’t deserve good things. Enter self-destructive/addictive behaviors, i.e. what we believe we do deserve.
But Thomas Moore, therapist and author, posits that we are looking to all the wrong things and people for the joie de vivre that slips through our fingers.
“Fulfilling work, rewarding relationships, personal power, and relief from symptoms are all gifts of the soul. They are particularly elusive in our time because we don’t believe in the soul and therefore give it no place in our hierarchy of values. We have come to know soul only in its complaints: when it stirs, disturbed by neglect and abuse, and causes us to feel its pain.”
Moore was used to clients coming to him expecting to be “fixed” of what ailed them. His response is unique:
“Care of the soul is a continuous process that concerns itself not so much with ‘fixing’ a central flaw as with attending to the small details of everyday life, as well as to major decisions and changes…the first point to make about care of the soul is that it is not primarily a method of problem solving. Its goal is not to make life problem-free, but to give ordinary life the depth and value that come with soulfulness.” (Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness In Everyday Life)
In learning to make peace with those aspects of yourself and your life you fight the hardest against, life doesn’t necessarily become easier, but much more purposeful and meaningful. And in the process, even happier–no shipping and handling required.