Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Worthiness Wednesday #54 Self-care, with others
A month ago, I received SARK's weekly Great Life Letter in my email inbox. It said:
When I ask people what they think self care is, they usually say 1 of 2 things: "I know I need to do it more," or "I try to make time for massage or yoga or bubble baths."
It's good that we know we need to do it more, and things like massage, bubble baths and yoga are very good.
True self care is more about our self-talk and inner dialogue, than it is about physical activities.
If you are experiencing repetitive negative or critical inner talk, as many people do, this will significantly affect your experiences of everything else you do. Many people don't realize that this is occurring and how they feel about it.
Most of us were taught and conditioned to take care of others before, or instead of ourselves. Then, if there's any left over, we try to practice some kind of self care. If you tend to your own feelings first, you will have more love and energy available for others.
This got me thinking, as I would certainly have found myself in the first category of folk i.e. the ones to automatically think about bubble baths and massages when asked about self-care. I am also very interested in my negative self-talk and the default inner dialogue that sabotages certain aspects of my life.
Longtime readers of this blog will know that this is stuff that I'm working on. It's hard work. And, to be honest, it can be a bit isolating. Partly because it brings up strong feelings that require private time to process. And partly because it can feel like I'm the only one that is dealing with this stuff, that everyone else has got it together, that it's embarrassing, that no-one else gets it... and so on and so on. Which, of course, is just ore "stuff" in the form of self-perpetuating protection mechanisms, that require more time and patience to dismantle.
One of the things I'm realising is that while self-care (in the form that SARK describes it) is critical, it really doesn't have to be done alone.
If I'm going to be honest, I've always been a little suspicious of women who talk about their "tribe". And more than a little jealous.
But I'm beginning to realise that this is because I have a rigid idea of what a tribe does or should look like. And it's either something I abhor (i.e. something that resembles high school dynamics) or something I yearn for but fear I can't have (i.e. a communion of blogging creatives that I've witnessed in other people's lives).
When actually, if I stop and really look around me, I see that I do have my own tribe. I have my bff for conversations about life and family and work and the arts. I have a dear friend on the other side of the planet who is my go-to for any conundrums about marriage and relationships and the work we're doing on ourselves. I have a great gal pal who doesn't live too far away who is a fantastic sounding board when it comes to living the creative life. I have a gorgeous mama friend, who is great for sharing the ups and downs of motherhood and parenthood. I have quite a few great colleagues, with whom I indulge in some very satisfying venting sessions. I have my sister for just about everything. I have my husband for unconditional love. I have my parents for some things. I have an excellent GP. I have my therapist.
But when the chips are down, I know that I rarely call upon these resources. I am beginning to suspect that, alongside the work I am doing on my own inner dialogue, it would be worth investing in the courage it takes to take my dialogue outside of my head, and into a sacred space honoured by a trusted companion.
I know this is not an easy practice, and may take some time to cultivate. But it seems to me, it may make all the difference in coaxing out those inner critics to play a little more nicely.
So, this week, I invite you to think about the people in your life who form your tribe. Rather than focus on the whole, try looking at the individuals and the unique way in which they each connect with you. Soak for a moment in the gorgeous feeling that floods your solar plexus when you think of the gifts they have given you, and what you give them in return. Open your eyes gently to honour the boundaries you have with each person e.g. my husband is always there for me when I need a hug or sympathetic ear, but his eyes glaze over when I talk about touchy-feely arty-farty stuff... but that's OK, I have loads of other arty-farty touchy-feely friends I can share that side of my life with!!
This week, I am holding a little space for you that reminds you that you are not alone. That you do, in fact, have a tribe of your own making. And that it is a worthwhile and worthy tribe, regardless of how ad hoc it looks.
[If you get a little stuck during the process, you might want to have a look at the fantastic free e-course Self-Care for the Soul provided by Jenn Gibson at Roots of She. It's short and unbelievably sweet, and so very very good. I did it and recommend it highly!]