The Practice of Self-Care
For many, practicing self-care is a life style change. It means giving up self-destructive habits. It’s a shift in perspective about how you view yourself and it’s adopting a pattern of positive behavior that reflects those perceptions.
When I first started to spend time with healthy people it seemed like I had entered into an alien world, where individuals looked and behaved very differently from the world I grew up in. In my world, people hated themselves and felt shame for every little thing. They weren’t comfortable in their own skin, they hurt and felt lost much of the time. A lot of people on my planet drank alcohol, or did drugs to continue abusing themselves long after their abusers had stopped. They didn’t value themselves and so they treated their mind, bodies and lives like they didn’t have value. It was a sad gloomy place and people passed that attitude down from generation to generation, never even perceiving that there was another way to be.
It’s easy to tell people who practice self-care from those that don’t. It’s evident in every aspect of their lives. Those that practice self-care are free to pursue their goals without dragging around generations of emotional baggage behind them. They don’t inflict self-harm, or get in their own way, they instead have tremendous amounts of confidence, they’re self-assured and treat themselves in a way that goes well beyond respect.
So what is it that they do differently? Well for starters, they don’t hate themselves. They don’t self-sabotage. They aren’t self-deprecating. They don’t believe that they have any voids to fill, and don’t believe that something is lacking or missing inside. They self-regulate their value and are generally optimistic about themselves, their lives and their future.
They are mindful of their feelings and take an active role in regulating their moods: When Oprah’s 25 years as host of the Oprah Winfrey show ended in 2011, we saw glimpses of what she was like behind-the-scenes in the last two episodes. What stood out to me was, even though those around her were sad and crying, she would stop herself from feeling sorrow. She would actually say to her staff, “I can’t go there with you,” and she didn’t permit herself to go to a negative place at all. She maintained her own inner peace and she knew that anything negative that she let swirl around in her mind, would manifest somewhere else, so she just didn’t allow herself to host those thoughts and feelings.
“I like to start my day with a few minutes of mood shifting. When I just wake up I might feel tired or groggy, so I’ll lie in bed for a few minutes and change my vibration from I don’t want to get up to, I love being alive. I’m happy and I love everything. It really changes my whole outlook on my day.” – Angela, Yoga Instructor
Many who practice self-care, practice some form of meditation. They know they are responsible for their attitude and their vibration, so they spend a part of everyday in deep mindfulness and become aligned with how they want to feel, while keeping negative thoughts and emotions at bay.
They take care of their bodies: Those that value themselves value the house that embodies their spirit and they treat it with the reverence it deserves. They are always mindful of what they put into it and they live an active lifestyle.
“I love making homemade soups. That way I can watch what I put into it. I don’t like to use too much salt and I want my vegetables to be fresh and usually organic. It fills me right up and it’s good for me too.” – Isabel G.
Taking care of your body doesn’t mean that you have to train like a professional athlete, or have the figure of a super model, but it does mean that you actively participate and are aware of how you are treating your body at all times. It doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge once in a while, but people that practice self-care don’t treat their bodies like garbage cans and they don’t use food to self-medicate. They listen to their bodies and pay attention to when something they’ve ingested doesn’t feel good and avoid it in the future.
They have an active social life and pursue whatever makes them happy: Healthy people love to have fun. You will often see them laughing it up with friends and engaged in activities that are entertaining and that challenge them and make them feel good. They love to travel, explore and enjoy the beauty that surrounds them.
They don’t isolate themselves from others and hide out in their homes, blocking out the rest of the world. They are part of it and have a strong sense of belongingness. For me, good conversation, a good atmosphere, good food, good wine and good company is my idea of paradise.
They live in reality and feed their mind: People that practice self-care are constantly searching for ways to become better people. They are curious and have a thirst for knowledge and adventure. They are open to change, tolerant of others and have a keen interest in new and different cultures, ideas and pursuits.
While they may imbibe once in a while, they don’t try to escape reality through substance abuse. They don’t judge or compare themselves to others. They like who they are and they believe that everyone should pursue what makes them happy, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights and beliefs of others.
They nurture themselves : Healthy people are kind to themselves and they don’t accept mistreatment. They take time out for themselves when they need to recharge and enjoy spending quality time alone. They take pleasure in simple things like, bubble baths, good books, hikes in nature, walking in the rain, a game of golf, or staring at sunsets. They seek out harmony and are very stable individuals.
They have standards: They don’t get pressured into doing things they don’t want to do. They expect to be respected, they expect to be treated fairly and they have an expectation that their needs and wants will be fulfilled. They have goals that they are free to pursue and don’t concern themselves with what other people think.
They have firm, well-established boundaries and a code of ethics that they live by. They have no problem speaking up for themselves, or speaking out against injustice. They have integrity and always try to be kind and do the right thing. They don’t sacrifice their morals or their self-esteem to please others. They know who they are and are comfortable in their own skin. They don’t chase after people who wish to change them, or don’t accept them for who they are.
Codependency is having a dysfunctional relationship with the self and self-care is having a healthy relationship with the self. It’s about knowing who you are and believing that you are good enough and worthy of having or achieving anything that you put your mind to. It’s about feeling like you belong and having the freedom to pursue what you want and what makes you happy.
Tony Robbins always says, “Success leaves clues,” so if you want to be fulfilled and lead a life that is happiness fueled, fun and full of self-love and success, then find someone that’s living that way and do what they’re doing. That’s the map. It’s already figured out for you.
If we’re lucky we have about 25,000 days on this planet – that’s it. And we get to choose how we spend our remaining days. So the million dollar question is: How will you spend yours?
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