"If you've been pushing yourself too hard and spreading yourself too thin, the first person to forgive is you."
I'm talking with Lori (my therapist) a few weeks ago, and I am weepy - very weepy. This is a good thing given that I walked in with no agenda and no real drama. The place where we landed, however, shifted my consciousness and gave me fuel to share my thoughts about self-care.
I've spent the last few weeks (okay, years) thinking about what self-care means to me. It mostly alternates between doing a lot and doing a little. There are times when I need more, and there are times when I need less. As I get more in touch with my needs, I am constantly trying to infuse self-care rituals into my daily life. I read everything I can get my hands on of how to optimize health and balance our lives. But in truth, adding any more to an
already over-loaded day makes even self-care seem like another thing on the "to-do" list.
When you begin to dread the things that fill you up, it's time for a change.
On one level, we all understand that deeply caring for ourselves allows us to give more fully to others - without sense of obligation. Often though, we feel guilty or discount the importance of it. Or, some of us may have received subtle messages that we must sacrifice our downtime to care for others, particularly children, spouses, and parents.
Those who know me would attest to my taking VERY GOOD care of myself. And, I do. On the surface. I buy nourishing food, make time to exercise, take naps if I need to, protect my energy, and the list goes on. Self-care is so much deeper than that. In my eyes, one of the most important pieces of self-care is the conversation we have with ourselves.
Our minds can create some of the best stories around.
So why was I crying the other day? In the time that I have been with Lori , the feelings of not being GOOD ENOUGH have not come up. No matter how much I accomplish in a day, I feel like I am failing.
As I spread myself too thin, I suffer, and who and what I love suffers.
I'm not give as much to my marriage as it needs right now; my kids are alternating between not wanting me as much and requiring attention in different ways; I haven't been calling my mother every single day despite her declining health; and several of my friends are going through big transitions and I am not sure I am there for them as I should be. In addition, I am overwhelmed by the never-ending coursework in health and wellness pursuits.
"What do I do with these feelings?" I say. While I can't change the messages of the past, I can CHALLENGE them. I begin with a new truth - a new conversation. The kind, loving, and gentle conversation I would have with younger self before I knew any differently.
As I am learning to nurture myself better, forgiveness is at the heart of this work.
This, dear ones, is the important piece of self-care.