Self-care is not about the number of massages you get, the affirmations you practise or the healthy food you ingest. All these are of course efficient tools you can use to honour your body and mind, but they in no way constitute the blueprint for self-care. Self-care is not only about actions you can take to influence your wellbeing. Self-care starts with being and the doing comes after. Read on and I’ll explain. The wellbeing industry is busy talking about all the actions we need to take to care for yourself, mind, body and soul, but some of these actions are totally superficial and miss the mark, if wellbeing and happiness is what you’re after. No amount of massages can create self-worth, no amount of affirmations can instil self-love and all the healthy food in the world cannot make you feel good about yourself deep down. It’s all about being before doing.
Lots of self-care tools concentrate only on the action and not on the being that inspired it. If you’ve booked a massage into your busy day, going there might prove really stressful. If you’re trying to fit it in between 10 other appointments you light be able to enjoy the moment of the massage, but the consequences of this indulgence are too dire to be truly joyful. If a massage means risking being late for other important appointments, dealing with clogged-up traffic getting there, picking your children up late from school etc, it won’t contribute to your wellbeing once the massage is over. A massage can be just another item to tick off on the to-do list and if that’s the case, it loses its magic power. If you’re not feeling good enough, practising saying sentences out loud, affirming that Yes! You ARE good enough is not really going to convince anybody, is it? Telling yourself something you feel to be a lie over and over again is not going to make it a truth. Of course, I’m not saying that you’re not good enough, but if you’re convinced that you’re lacking in good-enough-ness, then no amount of saying the same thing over and over is going to shift that. You’ll need to shift first 😉 Wanting to only eat healthy food, is of course admirable but sometimes very impractical. Some people totally override their needs and preferences in order to embrace a special diet that promises everlasting health and happiness. But what sort of happiness are you preparing for yourself if you’re unable to eat with your family and friends? What sort of health are you building by depriving yourself, be rationing yourself and by measuring your self-worth through what you eat? So what would be much more useful is to say that because you’re healthy, you choose to eat fruit instead of a cake, you choose to drink water instead of soda, because your body feels SOOOO good when you choose water. You’re not downing a cereal bar instead of a meal with colleagues, just so that you can avoid eating dessert. You’ll be making empowering choices as you go along. Can you see the difference? You’re making choices to honour YOU all the time. It’s not a diet dictating what you SHOULD eat. It’s YOU deciding, in the moment, what serves you best? If your diet prevents you from sharing meaningful moments with colleagues, friends and family, I would suggest that it’s the opposite of self-care. If you’re struggling with not feeling good enough, then there’s really only one way forward and that is deciding that you ARE good enough. Start with the being. Look at who you are, not what you do. Who are you? You’re a wonderful person, capable of love and caring for others, imperfect but delightfully so. That’s all you need to be to be good enough. You sometimes eat unhealthily, you sometimes say the wrong thing, but then EVERYBODY DOES! And these are not states of being. They’re actions! You are no better, no worse, than all other people, just different, because nobody’s the same on the surface. Then start living from this perspective! You’ll quickly find out that everything conspires to tell you that you’re just the way you’re supposed to be. Isn’t that a comforting thought?
If you feel stressed out and find that a massage is really becoming urgent, then I suggest you slow down. A massage won’t change anything. Because it’s the being and too much doing behind that’s making you fearful, sorry, stressed out. Take something off your load. Be more and do less. Let go. Healthy eating, massages and affirmations can camouflage your lack of care for yourself. They can be masking your real needs. If you’re feeling stressed out because of work, then what has to change is your work, your attitude to it, and not the amount of massages. What is your real need? Fewer obligations, not massages! If it’s your home environment that freaks you out, then sit down and have a look at that. Be with it. Let it exist. You can always take action later. If you’re looking to change through daily affirmations, then be them, don’t just say them. If you’re saying to yourself every day: “I’m good enough,” start being it. If you always choose “good” in any situation, then you’re good enough. If you’re being healthy, well, you can’t gorge on crisps, can you? Being the healthy person you want to be will enable you to make healthy decisions. It’s not the other way around: if I eat vegetables, I’ll be healthy. It’s I eat vegetables because I’m healthy. You already ARE, see? Once you are being what it is you want to be, then you can start making good choices from this space. You can say: “I’m honouring my body with a massage”. You can do so calmly now because your other choices are congruent with self-care: you haven’t filled up your schedule with 1000s of to-dos, leaving YOU free to choose “massage”. You’ll be making your choices according to who you are which will make them so much easier to make. No constricting schedules, no deprivation diet, no limiting beliefs. Now that is real self-care.
So self-care cannot be a few actions that you engage in once or twice a week. It cannot be something that is added on top of everything. It has to be something that springs from your being. Real self-care is deeply honouring your needs, keeping them in mind in everything you do. Real self-care is listening to your need for calm, quiet and sleep for instance. When you live your life in the calm, you become very critical of what you take on lest it should interfere with the calm you need. If it means compromising the calm you need, then you just automatically make the choice of refusing it. Self-care is becoming clear on what you need to thrive. That’s why massages, affirmations and a healthy diet can never be a need. You might need the calm that a massage can bring, you might need to feel the acceptance that affirmations can give you and you might crave the health that comes with healthy eating, but let’s not confuse the means with the end. A massage, affirmations and eating healthily are means, calm, inner peace, self-worth, self-love and health are ends. When you take the means to be your need, you miss the mark.
You’ll discover that there’re tons of ways in which you can strengthen your health, a multitude of ways to feel good enough and so many delicious ways of staying in the calm and not buying into the stress that there’s no need to beat yourself up about missing out on self-care. Self-care becomes natural when you’re fully convinced that you’re what is most important in your life. When you realise that you can be of greater service to others once you tune into your own needs, you can say goodbye to over giving. And when you become comfortable in the only body you have to experience life, it’ll let you know how to treat it. So the quest for self-care can end right here: stop the doing and become the being!
Speak soon! Katrine Horn