Monday, June 18, 2018
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Self-Care Truths I Wish I Had Known

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Self-care is a beautiful, wonderful, magical thing. It can also be a very frustrating and confusing thing. I’m no self-care expert, but I’ve been at this long enough to know what I wish someone would have told me when I first starting taking this journey seriously. As amazing as it is to finally start feeling more confident and comfortable and at peace with yourself, that shit is also hard to get to. It sucks when you’re doing everything “right” but you just keep hitting blocks or getting kicked back down. It sucks a lot.

I remember being really confused for a while because I just wasn’t becoming that groovy chilled out gal I wanted to be, or I would be her one day and not the next. But over time, and with the help of lots of article browsing on Pinterest, I learned a thing or two about this whole self-care journey. So if you’re feeling stuck and baffled, here are some things to keep in mind, some things that I wish I had known about self-care to shed some light on what’sreally going on during this roller coaster ride.

What Would I Do If No One Was Watching

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I have a question for you. What would you do if no one was watching? Don’t worry, don’t worry, I’m not putting you on the spot (yet). Just keep the question in your mind for now while I put myself on the spot. I like to think of this as a deeply introspective question that forces you to look at what you’re doing and where your passions lie. Freaky stuff! I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately and it’s brought me around to some hard truths about my life. Fair warning, this is going to get grossly personal. So let’s dig in, shall we?

What would I do if no one was watching? Now, I’m not talking about good deeds like helping someone across the street when you know no one is going to praise you for it, though that is important of course. What I mean here is, what would you be doing right now if you didn’t have a boss/parent/partner/friend/teacher looking over your shoulder? What would you be doing if there wasn’t an audience of hundreds or thousands (or hundreds of thousands) scrutinizing your every post?

Now more than ever it’s easy to feel like there are a million eyes following us and picking apart every decision, every look, even every sneeze. There are many aspects of our lives these days that are reliant upon what we do and how we do it in front of the right (or wrong) people. That’s not a very good feeling. Suffocation is the word that comes to mind when I think of the many ways in which we perform every day for the benefit or respect of other people. Don’t get me wrong here, it’s not bad to do things that are good for others and it’s not bad to want the people in your life to appreciate you. We are social creatures by nature so we crave connection with others, to varying degrees of course. This is great! This is wonderful! Except for when it messes with our ability to live our authentic experience.

This is due in large part to the way that much of our society is structured and what it values. You know what I’m talking about. The 9-5. Working for the weekend. Counting down the years to retirement. Hoarding sick leave and vacation time, if your workplace offers them.

Authenticity Is…

Authenticity is a big challenge for me. I think it is for a lot of people. In this day and age of filters and hashtags, it can be difficult to discern what is authentic let alone trying to be authentic. Especially in regards to social media, people tend to want to project a certain image of themselves, whether it be positive or negative.

 

We all have those friends or people we follow who are constantly posting pictures or updates of their vacations, their shiny new toys, their cool experiences. It can be really easy to get jealous of these people because they have and do everything that you want to have and do. They’ve got the picture perfect life, right? Maybe, in very very rare cases. But most of the time what you’re looking at is just the highlight reel. These people don’t share the mundane details of life, like getting their oil changed or the random little odds and ends that happen during the workday. That stuff isn’t very sexy. These people want others to think that everything is just peachy in their world, maybe because of a need to impress their friends and followers or because they don’t feel comfortable sharing the nittier grittier details of life. It can be difficult to open up about the less exciting things for many reasons and sometimes it’s just easier to hide them away. And guess what? Up until recently (very recently) I was one of those people. But we’ll get to that later so stick around!

Vulnerability Is…

Coffee cup top view on wooden table background

Following on the heels of my previous post on authenticity, I’m now turning my attention to vulnerability. Vulnerability is scary. It’s similar to authenticity in that way. You have to be willing to be vulnerable in order to live an authentic life. I think vulnerability is scary for a lot of people and while it feels similar across the board (think sudden exposure of your most intimate aspects and the risk of rejection as a result of said exposure), different things trigger vulnerability for different people.

 

When I think of vulnerability, I’m reminded of a dream I had when I was maybe seven or eight years old. God knows why I still remember this dream out of all the hundreds and thousands of dreams I’ve probably had during my lifetime thus far (most likely some sort of mysterious and deeply rooted psychological thing), but here it is. Let me preface this by saying that the dream involves being naked in a public place. We’ve all had those, right? Again I think this stems from our unconscious (or maybe very conscious) fear of being vulnerable and exposed. Are there any psychologists out there who wanna back me up on this?

When Anxiety Attacks

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Have you heard of this great little book called May Cause Miracles by Gabrielle Bernstein? This book was recommended to me by my dear friend and mentor the incredible badass goddess Margie Pargie (hi Margie!). It’s a 40 day journey of rewiring your life to the miracle mindset. And listen, I know you may not be one of those people who’s into the hippie dippie spiritual grooviness that tends to accompany this type of thing. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. Even so, I think this book is beneficial for anyone of any faith or philosophical leanings. If you’re interested in learning how to be more positive and appreciative of the good things in life, then you can certainly get something out of this book. Sounds great, right?

But I do have to give you fair warning. Any type of deeply introspective work is going to shake you up. 

Power Is…

Power is a double edged sword. We’ve all heard that before, haven’t we? In today’s political climate that phrase seems especially poignant. The people who have power are abusing the incredible platform they’ve been given for their own gain at the cost of the well being of the planet and of humankind as a whole. And that is just no good, to put it mildly. It can be easy to feel powerless with all this crazy, scary, disheartening stuff going on in the world. I’ve gone to some pretty dark places thinking about these disasters and attacks and wars, wondering how the hell anything is going to change, why we can’t just be decent people for five seconds, why I’m such a tiny and insignificant person that just has to live within this mayhem seemingly without any say in what’s happening.

Confidence Is…

Confidence is the bane of my existence. I’ve never been a confident person. I’m shy and introverted and awkward, which really aren’t bad traits (and they aren’t antithesis to confidence) but I’ve unfortunately felt burdened by them due to many, many occasions of being forced to speak or interact or touch when I didn’t want to, causing near panic and nausea. Fun stuff, huh? Being called on in class, social gatherings where I didn’t really know anyone, giving presentations…all nightmare inducing for me. And I know there are plenty of others out there like me. We should start a club.

Loving Yourself When You Want to Change Yourself

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Self-love can be a tricky concept. But, Vanessa, that makes no sense, you might say. It’s in the name, right? Self-love = loving the self, right? Well, yeah, that’s certainly not wrong. But I think that’s a bit of a simplistic view to take. People are very complex creatures so naturally our relationships with ourselves are nuanced and sometimes confusing.

I would wager that most people have aspects of themselves that they want to change, whether it’s a physical trait or a personality trait. Sometimes we have lists and lists of things that we would tweak given the time/energy/resources to do so. But if you commit to self-love, then surely these desires will go away, right? Probably not, unfortunately.

Again, our self-love journeys are just as complex and unique as we are. The way I see it, self-love is a balancing act between accepting yourself as you are right in this very moment with all your quirks and “flaws”, and working toward your transformation goals. Maybe you want to lose weight, break a bad habit, cultivate a positive trait like empathy or patience, become a better friend or partner, or fix that one problem spot that has plagued you for years. And that’s okay! You can still want to change aspects of yourself while loving and accepting yourself. These two desires are not mutually exclusive.

10 Things I Love About Myself

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Let’s talk self-love, shall we? On the surface it sounds all serene and simple and hippy-dippy right? I’m sure for some people it is, but I am not one of those fortunate people. And if you’ve stumbled upon this post, you’re probably not one of them either. Unfortunately, self-love is not a linear progression, even though I truly wish it was. But it’s just not that simple, because people aren’t that simple.

Maybe you’ve already been struggling with this concept called self-love, or maybe you’re curious but just don’t know where or how to start. I get it. It’s totally overwhelming. And there will always be days where it’s just not quite clicking and you’re not feeling too hot about yourself. Trust me, it’s normal. If you’re in a funk or you’re trying to figure out how to get the ball rolling, I would like to propose a simple self-love exercise for to help get you back in a cozy mindset. In fact, this exercise is so simple that a lot of people forget about it or completely overlook it, which is such a damn shame because it takes maybe 30 seconds and is immediately effective.

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