I was given this article recently, and here at the beginning of the year I think it's perfect. We tend to think of the consumer version of self-care: some kind of indulgence outside our normal routine. But maybe self-care is pushing through the hard stuff that you know will make life better in the end.
Here's the full text of the article, written by Brianna West, Nov 2017
Self-care is often a very un-beautiful thing.
It is making a spreadsheet of your debt, and enforcing a morning routine, and cooking yourself healthy meals, and no longer just running away from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.
It is often doing the ugliest thing 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 mandated breaks from living in order to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for a day.
A world in which self-care has to be such a trendy topic is a world that is sick. Self-care shouldn’t be something we resort to because we are absolutely so exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure.
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. And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do. It often means looking at your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is choosing not to satiate your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living in a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t.
It is letting yourself be normal. Regular. Unhurried. Real. It is sometimes having a dirty kitchen and deciding your ultimate goal in life isn’t going to be having abs and keeping up with your fake friends. It is deciding how much of your anxiety comes from not actualizing your latent potential, and how much comes from the way you were being trained to think before you even knew what was happening.
If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer self-care, it’s because you are disconnected from actual self-care, which has very little to do with “treating yourself” and a whole lot to do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness.
It is no longer using your hectic and unreasonable life as justification for self-sabotage in the form of liquor or procrastination. It is learning how to stop trying to “fix yourself” and start trying to take care of yourself - and maybe you’ll find that taking care lovingly will attend to a lot of the problems you were trying to fix in the first place.
It means being the hero of your life, not the victim. It means rewiring what you have until your everyday life isn’t something you need therapy to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good. It is giving the hell up on some goals so you can care about others, or allowing non-decision to make your decisions for you. It is being honest even if that means you aren’t universally liked. It is meeting your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on other people.
It is becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be - however honest or ugly or painful the self-care has to be to keep you in the right direction. Salt baths and chocolate cake are ways to enjoy life, not to escape from it.
Happy New Year, my dear! I am excited to roll on in to 2018 with you!