Usually when we talk about self-care we talk about actions. We talk about self-care as being taking time for yourself, maybe going to the spa or working out. It’s ‘me’ time and looking after yourself. Self-care can be these things, but sometimes self-care is doing the dishes. Sometimes self-care is doing the thing we least want to do. It’s doing the hard stuff.
So how do we know the difference? I’ve had women ask me this question over and over. What should I do? How do we know whether caring for ourselves is doing the dishes or if it’s going to the spa all day instead? How do we know if it’s getting up early for a workout or sleeping in? How do we know if it’s eating a cheeseburger or eating a salad?
Self-care is an opportunity for us to learn about ourselves and to love ourselves.
So often we use “self-care” as a punishment. We tell ourselves it’s more loving to eat a salad, when it feels entirely wrong. Or we indulge in a day of nothing as an escape from our reality, instead of as a break. I hear women say things like “I need to learn to trust myself” and then they force themselves to go on a strict diet, even though it feels terrible, and they pretend that’s what they need. They try to mold themselves, their lives and their bodies, into being something that they think they should be, instead of taking the time to ask themselves who they are.
The thing is, with self-care, it matters why we are doing it. It matters why we are choosing to eat the salad instead of the cheeseburger, or get up early to workout instead of sleeping in. It’s easy to mask self-punishment as self-care when we aren’t in tune with ourselves. When we haven’t taken the time to really get to know ourselves.
So instead of asking, what should I do?
Start asking, how does it feel?