Today I want to start by introducing you to your roommate. Not necessarily the person you live with in your home. Though you do live with them. Constantly. Do you know who they are? They are the voice within your head. Constantly narrating, describing and telling you what you should do. And they definitely have an opinion about today’s topic.
Self-care. It’s an interesting word. Although it sounds self-explanatory, many of us have no idea what it looks like. Or, our “roommate” holds judgment about it. We say things like self-care is selfish. Self-care is for the weak or the indulgent. Or perhaps we associate it with experiences that are removed from our daily lives, things like spa appointments and vacations, so it feels inaccessible.
So we don’t take care of ourselves. We don’t give ourselves the very things we need to thrive. Things like rest, healthy food, water, real human connection, and saying no to one more commitment or project..
The story our roommate tells us is there is no time. No room. They place expectation and judgement on us. They compare our lives, our achievements to others. And convince us to push and work harder and harder until….
Until… it’s too much. When we don’t take good care of us, things feel hard. Things ARE hard. Work and life is demanding and at the end of the day we likely feel exhausted or overwhelmed.
Do you ever feel like this? I certainly have. My friends do. They send me texts that read. I’m D.O.N.E. - DONE! Or Help! I’m in the weeds.
And so we seek comfort. We seek ways to make ourselves feel better for the lack of time and energy we have and for the list of things we aren’t doing but should. Because we have nothing left in the tank, we grab the low hanging fruit. The pint of ice cream. The glass of wine. Netflix and our couch. It’s a fast and certain feel-good hit but it isn’t serving us. But we do it, because it is the only thing we can grab. It’s self-comfort disguised as self-care.
And, when we ignore self-care long enough… when we trade ourselves… our health…our happiness as the currency for success? Self-comfort can turn to self-indulgence and even self-sabotage. We learn these patterns. We become used to ignoring what our body needs, and sacrificing ourselves even though we might not feel good about it. This turns up the voice of the roommate – who demands we do more, do better, do differently. Who tells us that we need to be relentless in our work and the things we should do --Leading us to need more comfort, more indulgence and even more guilt. Without realizing it, we create a vicious cycle and chronically borrow tomorrow’s health and happiness in order to meet the demands of today.
We are both captive and captor.
It’s time to stop. It’s time to get on your OWN SIDE. And maybe, even time to evict the inner roommate.
First, let’s look at the role it's playing in your life. Is the voice a coach or a champion for what is possible in your life? Or is it more like a complainer or critic? If you could take that voice out of your head and put it right in front of you in human form, would you hire it to lead your life?
We didn't think so.
Let’s take back what self-care is and can look like in our lives.
Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s a vote, an assist for your future self. It’s the opportunity to invest in the you of tomorrow, instead of borrowing from your future success, happiness, and health to meet the demands of today.
So how do we do that?
First, ask yourself. What do I need? Remember that self-care is uniquely individual and broadly defined.
Then ask yourself, what does my future self need? What can I choose to do right now that will meet this need, and still allow me to show up as a more resilient/happier version of myself tomorrow?
Take back what self-care means and what it can look like. The ability to take care of you today... AND tomorrow.