I’m a huge fan of self-care but the truth is most popular self-care practices hurt more than help.
Everyone loves the flowery feel-good advice we see in social media with the beautiful images of candles surrounding luxurious bubble baths that urges us to do things for ourselves such as splurge at a day spa, eat deliciously scrumptious triple chocolate lava cake, or take a day off from everything and do nothing.
After all, you had a rough day (week, month, year, life) – you deserve it. Right?
SELF-CARE IS NOT ABOUT DESERVABILITY
It’s not about our deservability, it’s simpler and more practical than that.
It’s about the way we treat ourselves every day, not just in our sporadic escapist moments labeled “self-care”.
If you continue to live a life that you have to escape from with self-care practices, then you’ll continue to chase empty self-care actions that make you feel good while you’re doing them but after they’re over, it’s back to dreaded reality again.
Those pesky problems didn’t go away while you were taking a long hot bubble bath.
And a week later, you’re stuck in the same burnout space you were before, feeling like you really need to treat yourself, after all, you deserve it. It’s been a rough week.
ARE YOU STUCK IN A SELF-CARE/SELF-HURT LOOP?
Most of us spend a maximum of 20% of our time (if that much) doing our self-care practices and 80% feeling stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, and burnt out.
20% feel good + 80% feel bad = your life.
Something seems terribly wrong with that equation.
And when you consider that the time you’re spending during your self-care practice is mixed with the knowledge that after the bubble bath or after the day spa or after the day off to treat yourself, reality is going to be waiting for you right where you left it, half of that 20% isn’t spent feeling good. It’s spent trying to forget reality and relax.
So now we have:
10% feel good + 90% feel bad = your life.
FML, as my teenage stepdaughter would say.
I’m SMH at all this craziness.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
The answer is because we believe the horrible advice that a bubble bath, a new hairstyle, an expensive new outfit, a brisk walk in nature, an unplug day or any other intermittent self-care practice will change everything else in the long-term.
Because if you don’t change your “everything else” then you’re just feeding into the self-care/self-hurt cycle.
The issue is not what you do for the 10% of the time, it’s what you do for the 90% of your life.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good candle-lit bath.
But I don’t use it to escape my reality, I use it to enhance it.
See the difference?
CREATE A REALITY YOU DON’T HAVE TO ESCAPE FROM
Picture a tired hamster running on a wheel. Now picture the hamster finally realizing it deserves more so it decides to practice self-care and go eat bonbons on the couch while Netflix bingeing. After a day of TV, with renewed energy, the hamster gets back on the wheel and picks up on the spinning cycle where it left off.
But soon, it gets weary, anxious and frustrated all over again. It feels like it’s just spinning its wheels. Literally.
After some time of this, it thinks, “I really need to take better care of myself, why do I keep doing this to myself?” and it gets off the wheel and takes a nice hot bubble bath. Aaaaah, so relaxing. “This feels so good. Why do I keep forgetting about my self-care practices?” it wonders. So our little spinning hamster, determined to be more vigilant about taking care of itself, commits to taking more time to do more self-care things like this and treat itself better.
After all, it deserves it.
And as the last of the hamster’s stress drains with the murky bath water, it feels refreshed… and gets right back on that wheel to start running again.
Do you see the problem?
It’s not the sporadic moments of self-care.
It’s the running!
If the hamster really knew it deserves more, it would stop running.
Not just long enough to take a hot bath.
REAL SELF-CARE PRACTICES THAT MAKE A LONG-TERM DIFFERENCE
“But Treeeee, I’m not a hamster. I have bills to pay, goals to achieve and children to care for, not to mention struggling with my insecurities, doubts and internal demons.”
Yes, that’s true.
And isn’t it wonderful!?
Isn’t it synchronistic that in the pursuit of figuring out all those things (how to pay your bills, achieve your goals and care for your loved ones, along with dealing with your insecurities, doubts and internal demons – aka LIFE), you are required to practice a deeper level of self-care every day by doing things like:
- Show up for yourself and those you love.
- Challenge your false and limiting beliefs.
- Surrender to the Divine.
- Do the inner work necessary to grow and expand.
- Do the outer work necessary to grow and expand.
- Decide to stop at nothing to fulfill your potential.
- Evolve, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
- Get back up after you fall.
- Keep going when life gets tough.
- Find joy in little moments.
- Look yourself in the mirror and be okay with who you are.
- Change your perspective.
- Broaden your vision.
- Create a better life.
Isn’t it so beautifully orchestrated that the thing you’re trying to get rid of so you can have a happier life is the very thing causing you to seek that happier life and discover your true worth and what you’re really made of?
When you can see your life in this way, you’ll stop running.
You don’t have to run toward or away from anything. You don’t have to keep spinning your wheels.
Just stop running and relax into the beauty of your life as it is right now.
This moment, right now, this life, as it is – THIS is your self-care practice.
Treat it as you would a nice hot bath.
Look forward to it, soak in it, be present in it.