“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
~ Lucille Ball
The most important relationship you have in this life is the one you have with yourself. Period. Honoring that relationship is the basic essence of self-care. Self-care isn’t just about the ways we honor our bodies by addressing nutrition and calories, although those are powerful components. Self-care includes all aspects of how we nourish our bodies, minds, and souls. It’s the whole YOU package that honors and nurtures your fundamental needs, far beyond your pressing list of “shoulds.” Standing in and owning your self-care needs nourishes your entire life, who you are, and how you want to live.
Quite simply, we cannot give to anyone what we do not have within ourselves. By giving yourself more, you are able to give more. It’s like when you are on a plane before takeoff and the flight attendants give instructions for what to do if there is a decrease in cabin air pressure. Passengers are instructed to put on their own oxygen mask first, before assisting anyone else. Self-care is your oxygen mask. Once you know how to place it properly, it will stay in place for the rest of your life. It’s the act of filling your cup first and then offering to others from the overflow. I guarantee that if you truly fill your cup first, there will be overflow. If your cup isn’t full, you cannot truly show up for any other activity or any other person in your life. You end up settling for only a small portion of yourself, even when you might fundamentally know there is so much more potential.
Self-care is a major piece of the foundation of your life, as important as air, water, breathing, food, and shelter. Despite what you might be thinking, self-care is not the same thing as pampering, although some pampering is certainly nice every now and then. At its root, self-care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. All of those aspects are absolutely integrated. It’s buying time for yourself and making yourself a priority, not in a superficial way, but in a way that sets you up to show up more fully in every other area of your life. When you do that, it creates a ripple effect of goodness for every single person that is impacted by your presence. What could be more important than that?
While it might not seem immediately obvious, at the heart of self-care is the idea of self-love, which is the over-arching theme that supports the concepts of self-compassion, self-worth, self-kindness, and any other thought or belief you have about your own value and needs. In fact, some researchers suggest that underneath virtually all suffering lies a lack of self-love. If that’s true, and I believe it is, we can have so much more control over what we experience in life by learning to love ourselves up. Sounds simple, but I know how monumentally challenging it can be for many of us. The other profound piece of the self-love principle is that our entire capacity to truly love and celebrate any other person in our lives is directly connected to our ability to fully love ourselves first.
Essentially, our self-love, and ultimately the way we care for ourselves in general, is reflected in our behaviors and ways of being, such as the quality of our running inner dialogue, how we approach life, with whom we choose to spend time, the image we project, and how we approach challenging circumstances. Self-love teaches us to see all of this with new awareness. After all, we are the sages of our soft spots and our edges—those areas beyond the limits of our comfort zone.
Self-love and self-care is showing up for ourselves with honesty, telling ourselves the truth with love and kindness, and having a willingness to see things differently. Self-love offers us the opportunity to tap into all levels of forgiveness. Self-love means not having to be right all the time. It means letting yourself off the hook if you’ve tried your best and things didn’t turn out exactly as planned. You don’t have to be better or stronger than anyone else and you get to be the perfectly “imperfect” version of you at all times.
By focusing some intentional energy on the process of self-love and self-care, we get to experience life in a new and refreshing way. As part of that journey, we get to experience the following:
• Let down our guard.
• Accept imperfection as a human condition.
• Stay neutral in our reflections and avoid harsh judgments (of ourselves and others).
• View life with training wheels attached (meaning we view it all as an experiment).
• Commit to our own evolution.
• Honor our own personal development process.
Commit to practicing self-love, and thus self-care on a moment by moment.
I SELF-CARE DARE YOU!
– Tame Your Inner Dialogue –
Let’s bring some awareness to your inner dialogue. How do you talk to yourself throughout the day? What tone of voice do you use? What words or phrases do you use? When do you say these things? First, notice these things to become more aware of your inner dialogue. Then, write down in your self-care journal at least five examples of things you say to yourself regularly, and whether you see them as positive or negative. How does it make you feel to review this list?
As a revolutionary in the art of self-care, Shelley Hunter Hillesheim founded A Nourished Life where she is a self-care coach, published author, inspirational speaker, workshop leader, sisterhood builder and maverick for ambitious, driven women. She rescues depleted high achievers from overwhelm and helps them create the spaciousness and simplicity needed to nourish themselves with sustainable self-care habits.
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