Is it really self-care?
Is it really self-care?
Who doesn’t enjoy a bit of pampering now and then! Perhaps it’s in the form of a massage, a trip to the beautician, a glass or two of wine or a meal out at your favourite restaurant. Maybe it’s a sleep in after a hectic few days, or a weekend away.
Everyone tells us that self-care is important, especially if we have been experiencing a tough time for one reason or another, so whatever reward we choose for ourselves is normalised as a good thing to be doing. But why are we placing self-care high up on the shelf, only to be accessed here and there when we feel circumstances make it appear reasonable, rather than it being part of our everyday living?
We live in a society where people feel entitled here and there to receive or do something special because everything around them tells them that they have earned it. Having our reward feels justified as it helps to break the monotony and stress of everyday life and momentarily perks us up. In years gone past I know that I felt that somewhere over the weekend I was entitled to sit down and zone out in front of the television for a few hours.
I reasoned that I was relaxing and enjoying a moment of self-care as I usually felt exhausted following a busy week. But what I didn’t do was question how I had been living that led to the exhaustion in the first place, and where had the self-care been in everything I did leading up to that point or why the same thing kept happening week after week.
As far as I was concerned, being a wife, mother, homemaker, employee, daughter, friend and so forth meant that I had to be self-sacrificing and push on through, no matter what my body was saying. I worked diligently on the things I had to complete on my to-do list and then felt that I could sit back for a couple of hours with a clear conscience and indulge myself in some way.
To me this was self-care as I was taking a bit of time out of my busy life and doing something just for me. Then it was off to bed, often sleeping poorly due to all the nervous energy that was still buzzing around in my body, along with the racing thoughts that seemed to constantly fill my mind. The next morning I would get up and repeat the cycle all over again.
I thought that how I was living was normal and when I looked around me, everyone appeared to be doing their own version of a similar type of thing, for example through sport, alcohol, food, shopping, watching movies, visiting the beauty salon or hanging out with friends. The line between what was self-care and what was just an excuse to be self-indulgent was blurry as basically everything could be justified as reasonable as long as people didn’t take having their break from life to extremes.
Nothing has really changed as time has passed, and I often hear people all around me saying that they have had a hard day at work etc. and so are now looking forward to their reward, their ‘me’ time and time out.
Many of us live life at a hectic pace and our self-worth is commonly measured by our achievements and material success. We aim to prove ourselves through the various roles we undertake, be that as men, women, mothers, fathers, homemakers, breadwinners, partners, through our careers and so forth. But living life this way means that we are placing ourselves under enormous pressure with the fear of failure constantly circling around us, so we don’t dare put the brakes on.
Coping and getting through each day becomes the name of the game, with time-out moments here and there. We call those moments ‘self-care’. We consider it a type of re-fuelling so that we can get back into the thick of things again. But nothing has changed in terms of how we go about our days, apart from the fact that we’ve grabbed an opportunity for a little ‘me’ time before returning to our usual routines.
But is all of this really what self-care is about? What if we stopped and observed where we are getting ourselves caught in the same old patterns that drain us and leave us searching for some type of stimulation or distraction to ease the discomfort we are feeling? We are living in the belief that our sanity depends on it and therefore, whatever we choose is a fair and reasonable way of caring for ourselves.
"To sustain a way of life that is many times much less in knowledge and wisdom than one truly is, there has to be a way of life that constantly denies it; in fact, its every move and way of being must be one that sustains the creation that supresses the grandness."Serge BenhayonTeachings & Revelations for The Livingness Volume III, ed 1, p 8
While there is nothing wrong with enjoying ourselves, it is the intention behind what we do and the quality we do it in that will determine if it is truly self-caring or simply an excuse to check out for a while before we go back to the beat of our old lives again. Even if something is carefully chosen and applied, there is still another layer to sift through before we can call it true self-care.
Is caring for ourselves something that we only do when we feel we have earned it – or is self-care high up on the list and something that is part of our daily rhythms and rituals?
What if self-care was the gateway to learning to love ourselves and was a necessary first step that helped to stop us from becoming lost in amongst all the usual busyness of our lives?
Are we honouring, loving and caring for the ‘being’ inside each of us that is not at all invested in our achievements or status or how we look – because that is the foundation we need if we are to truly embrace self-care?
The first step to turning things around starts with connecting with our body – which can feel very strange and awkward to do when we have spent the majority of our lives deliberately avoiding feeling what is going on inside ourselves. But we aren’t meant to play small, and the reality is that we are the most powerful and strong version of ourselves when we are connected to our inner being. If we can stay open to observing the messages from our body, we will find that it speaks loudly to us all the time, letting us know what feels loving and kind and what feels harsh and cold, even if there was a fleeting moment of enjoyment initially.
Many have found the Gentle Breath Meditation® is a great way to start tuning into their body. There will undoubtedly be challenging moments along the way, but with commitment we find it becomes natural to do little self-caring acts for ourselves for no other reason than we are beginning to value who we are on the inside. We also find that self-care actually feels wonderful and dovetails beautifully with self-love.
It’s likely we will find that our definition of self-care changes as time passes because it’s stemming from the realisation that we are delicate, tender, precious beings. We live in a world that is quick to fault find and slow to acknowledge what is uniquely special about us, so at first we can question if it is even possible that we are this amazing being that has a whole host of wonderful qualities right there, but which have been hidden from sight.
We have everything we need inside us to shine outwardly in our own particular way.
Others may have similar qualities to us, but the way we are each designed to reflect these qualities is different. In order to get to know our qualities and learn to enjoy bringing them up and out to the surface, we need to lovingly attend to caring for ourselves, honour what is there, and not try and change, improve or prove ourselves despite everything in the outside world that is relentlessly telling us that we aren’t enough just as we are.
"No ideal, belief, or outer force should dictate who you are. It is the inner-heart that truly defines you. That clear definition is found in the livingness of the gentle breath."Serge Benhayon Esoteric & Exoteric Philosophy, ed 1, p 184
Self-care is about going for a walk when we feel we need a breath of fresh air or being clear about our boundaries, and saying ‘no’ rather than taking on everyone else’s burdens and responsibilities. We don’t have to solve everyone else’s problems for them and sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to let people face the consequences of their choices.
It’s definitely not about completing everything on our ‘to-do’ list and it’s not about exercising to extremes under the guise of ‘no pain, no gain’, or driving ourselves to obtain further qualifications so that we feel armed and ready to compete within the workplace. It’s about eating and drinking what and how much is healthy for YOUR body rather than waiting until you feel bloated, heavy and or ill after a meal to know that something isn’t OK.
It’s about listening to the niggling feeling you feel in your throat or stomach or elsewhere in your body that tells you something isn’t right, and it also includes taking heed when your mind is crammed with racing thoughts, doubts, anxieties and insecurities. It means continually setting new benchmarks as you keep refining what is loving, kind and nurturing for who you are on the inside, without apology or the need to hide or play down your amazing sensitivity and tenderness.
This way of life is likely very different to what you may have previously labelled ‘living a meaningful life’, but given the loveless state of the world and the low levels of settlement in most people’s lives, why not give it a go and see where your self-care journey leads you?
"Self-care is a forerunner or bridge to self-love, and self-love being the forerunner and bridge to love. That said, it all starts with self-care. That said, self-care is unique to each person and you will be drawn to self-care according to what you feel you need to support yourself. However, no matter what your preference to self-care may be in the initial stages, true and sustaining self-care is a relationship with an ever-developing form of self-care, one that eventually covers all that is needed and not just the obvious or the most pressing parts you wish to seek relief from. Forget this not."Serge BenhayonEsoteric Teachings & Revelations Volume II, ed 1, p 75