I’m trying to write this blog post without sounding preachy, but this is a big soapbox issue for me. Our culture, while many individuals are trying to make changes, almost doesn’t even value self-love of self-care. In the USA, it’s almost a badge of honor contest to see who can be the most exhausted. We laugh at and glorify binge drinking, pumping our bodies full of toxic crap, getting poor sleep, and we act like it will all be fine until we have major, irreversible health issues. These health issues are happening on an epidemic level, and it’s almost as if there’s some sort of romance in being overworked and feeling trapped in a constant cycle of racing and working hard with no clear payoff or goal in mind. So, I’d like to try to do my part in dispelling some myths about self-love and self-care, reminding my amazing audience of the importance of both, and use my platform in contributing to a cultural shift towards better self-love and self-care.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is an action term, and should be the basis of reasoning for anything you do, no matter how big or small. If you know your purpose in life, everything you do in accordance with that purpose counts as self-care. For example, I know that my dharma type is educator, and I live that purpose through being a therapist and life coach. I thrive off of lea ring new things so that I can use the skills and information to empower and heal others. However, if we don’t balance out with other types of self-care, constantly immersing ourselves in our purpose 100% of the time can be extremely draining. So it’s out of self-awareness that we must constantly assess our bodies, luminous energy fields, emotional and mental well-being, and energy levels.
When we’re drained and in need of a little bit “more”- energy, love, relaxation, tyime, or anything that replenishes us, self-care mustshift. On days when I need to recharge, I have to add extra things into my daily practice to supplement the output of the energy. Things like playing with my dog, or my friends’ toddlers, some extra yoga, journaling, an oracle card reading, getting a massage/energy healing session, listening to an inspiring audiobook/podcast, or listening to the legends of my Celtic and M’iqmaq heritages all help to replenish my energy on tougher days. Sometimes, we have to allow ourselves time to actively check out to shut our brains off temporarily. This is self-care as well, but only if we are aware of why we are doing it, what we’re looking to get out of it, and when we plan to check back in. If we just totally check out and binge-watch Game of Thrones for hours or days, with no real purpose other than avoiding life, this is not replenishment or self-care, and I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t feel better afterward.
We do what fulfills our purpose, and sometimes check out to take a break, ideally because we love ourselves. Anything that falls under that umbrella counts as self-care. For example, sometimes I forego my early morning workout or yoga (yup I do it too!) because even though those things are for my own self-care and the well-being of my body, sometimes my body also needs more sleep and rest. So I’m still engaging in self-care if I let myself go back to sleep for a couple more hours, so that I’m rested and able to be more fully present for my clients and all the other things I have to do that day.
Boundaries are another very important form of self-care. Setting boundaries with those in our lives isn’t out of punishment or malicious intent towards them, but rather to preserve our own well-being based on the bare minimum we know we require in order to feel well. People often feel guilty about setting boundaries, especially those with a long-history of people-pleasing. I plan to talk more about that in a later blog post, but if you have specific questions and would like some help with setting boundaries, please get into contact with me directly.
So, What is Self-Love?
Self-love is the intention with which we engage in any of our self-care activities. So if self-care is the action, self-love is the emotion and intention driving the action.
Self-love is often hard for us to access. We don’t live in a society that wants us to know our true value and step into our power- rather, our society wants us to conform and not make waves. In indigenous tribes, the belief is that each member of the community is born with incredible gifts, and it’s the community’s collective responsibility to love and foster that person and their gifts, so that the whole community can benefit. This fosters the individual’s sense of themselves and their own identity, which is fluid throughout the journey of their lives. The person is thus able to acquire new skills and gifts to give because of this community value of self-love and self-awareness.
In our society, self-love is anything that keeps passion and energy going, so that you can fulfill your purpose and keep doing your self-care activities with vigor. We have become more individualistic, especially as volatile political climates have shown many marginalized or more introverted people that being part of a community can be unsafe. The result is we don’t have the self-awareness that membership in a community can foster, and we believe we need to be selfish with our gifts because the world doesn’t know how to appreciate them. If you want the world to change, the first place you have to look is within yourself- how do you feel about how you show up to the world, and what gifts do you have to offer? How generous are you in sharing those gifts? How nurturing are you in encouraging others to share their gifts? What would help you to be more giving with your gifts, and nurturing of others?
This is an invitation to you to engage in all your daily activities and practices with a new awareness of why, and assess whether now feels like a good time to identify and make any changes you may feel called to make. How connected with your own purpose, your energy, and your physical and emotional feelings are you on a day to day basis? What about your soul? What are you in need of changing in your own self-care or self-love regimen?
Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC
Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.
** if you would like to revamp your self-care routine, join me in January for my Goddess group! Contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!