Dear everyone! I’m so happy you’re on my page. As an introduction to this article, I want to ask you one question:
Are you at eye-level with yourself?
…maybe you’re wondering what I mean by this. To put it in another way:
Do you pay attention to you natural needs? For example, getting enough fresh air? Do you nourish your body with fresh food? Do you move your body on a regular basis? Do you sleep enough? Are you mindful with physical “warning” signals, such as pain, tiredness or weakness? Can you handle stress, the hustle and bustle in your daily life, while taking time for yourself after a challenging day? Do you believe in your visions and goals?
Maybe you’re asking yourself: why should I be putting my very personal requirements in the foreground to such an extent – that sounds selfish! There are plenty of other people who have it worse than I do!
This may be true. However, you will never be a support for these people if you forget about yourself, if you loose the access to yourself; if you are all at sea; imbalanced, stressed, indigent, ill, if you’re facing the downward spiral.
As soon as your glass is full, you will be able to share your water with others … to help them.
Only when you care for yourself first can you help others who need support, without overexerting yourself. It was Dalai Lama, who boiled it down to an essence with these wonderful words:
“For someone to develop genuine compassion towards others, first she or he must have a basis upon which to cultivate compassion, and that basis is the ability to connect to one’s feelings and to care for one’s own welfare…Caring for others requires caring for oneself.”
However, giving our own needs the highest priority is probably one of the most disconcerting things for us in life. How can you find access to yourself in order to become more aligned? That’s the topic of today’s article!
~ What does self-care actually mean? ~
Self-care is about recognizing, classifying properly and consequently attending to your very basic needs and requirements. Self-care also means to assume responsibility. Self-responsibility. For yourself and your needs; equally as if you would take care for your children; you would pay attention to their eating habits, their sleep, physical activity, that they have their play and fun time, receive necessary means of education as well as relaxation.
The way to your goal starts with the day,
on which you take complete responsibility for all of your acts.
As we step into adult life, we are able to go our way in a sense of “freedom”, self determined. But at the same time, we are supposed to take responsibility for what we choose to do. This is exactly the attribute that we tend to hand off easily and therefore be determined by influences from the outside, getting lost in the victimhood. I won’t blame anyone for such a behavior; this usually happens unconsciously. We just want to be integrated in society, satisfy our basic need of recognition; we don’t want to attract attention by being different or even “selfish”. So, it happens automatically that our basic needs go unattended and become forgotten.
~ The most important requirements for self-care ~
What do I actually need in order to take enough care of myself? There are basically two parts that play a crucial role when it comes to self-care:
Paying attention to your very personal well-being and needs is non-negotiable. You can imagine being an internal observer, who pipes up as soon as their mental and/or physical state start to fluctuate towards a state of imbalance.
Self-compassion means to follow an appreciative attitude towards yourself. The point is to notify your caring part that the indigent part within you needs devotion just in that moment. It needs attention and wants to be seen.
At the same time there is self love, which results in the process of caring for your well-being. Self love definitely is one of THE most crucial topics in life that I will surely cover in greater depth in my other articles.
Most people don’t perish of life itself,
but of an unhappy love – to themselves.
An acknowledging, lovely, appreciative, empathic and mindful attitude towards your own needs goes hand in hand with self-care. And it also affects different levels – a key to holistic health:
- If we care for all of our physiological needs, our body generates positive feedback, which strengthens our self-esteem as well as our confidence and brings the relationship to our self to an even deeper level.
- As soon as your mental, social and emotional needs are satisfied, your resilience increases. Stress and negativity all around you are no longer able to harm and imbalance you.
~ Why is it so difficult to care for ourselves? ~
On the one hand, we’ve got reasons for the lack of self-care that go back to our past, but at the same time there are imprints from the present. Briefly said: we always learn from the behavior of the people surrounding us.
Just transfer yourself for a moment back into your childhood: How did you react…
…when something hurt you?
…when there were intuitive wishes coming up?
…when you were criticized by your teacher, which gave you a queasy feeling in the stomach?
Did you learn that the signs of your body aren’t something bad? That they are allowed to be perceived and fulfilled? If so, you also learnt to regulate these needs by yourself. By contrast, if you never dared to express your internal needs, if you never got the required attention and care of your parents or your most intimate caregivers, you’ll probably have started very early to suppress your needs, to resist to your internal signs and to ignore them.
On the other hand, during the process of acquiring adulthood we step into a social environment; and our society is not always the best example. People show us to be available for everyone permanently, but not for ourselves. Society is characterised by high performance requirements. For example, it is not regarded as something “good” if you call in sick from work; thus, we “combat” our symptoms with drugs in order to function as soon as possible again.
Therefore, two main barriers block your way to care for your own Self:
- A lack of learning how to deal with your own needs as well as how to react to them in an appropriate way back in childhood.
- Adapting the habits and behavior from society, such as performing all day long, making extra hours at work, functioning as a mother/wife, etc.
At this certain point, I honestly don’t want to make anyone responsible for the lack of your self-care. Nobody wanted to harm you. They/We didn’t know how to go about it differently … how to do a better job. So, you also do not need to blame anyone for anything!
~ Consequences of suppressing your needs ~
One definite sign of lacking self-care is to live an unhappy life while waiting and hoping that all of the influencing factors on the outside (family, friends, colleagues, boss, etc.) somehow turn out well. No one out there knows yourself better than you do, for nobody will be able to satisfy your needs in a way you want it to be in this exact moment; what makes you happy. Nobody knows that!
As soon as we stop listening to the signs of what our body, mind and soul needs, we loose the trust in ourself; we loose self-confindence; self-esteem; it’s as if we say “No” to ourself. We reject our needs, devalue ourself as a person and therefore, our energy flows completely against us.
As a result, your inner voice gets louder and louder, for everything you suppress accumulates within yourself emotionally. This voice from the inside will shout at you, it will show you on a physical level that this is not the way you’re meant to live. It will start fighting with you mentally.
Sicknesses are classical examples of suppressing your needs. If you get sick, it’s not a nasty thing to combat, it’s rather a cry of help from your soul, which hardly tries to get you back on your life path.
~ How others profit from your self-care practice ~
Self-care isn’t about being selfish, not at all. In fact, it’s the opposite. Actually, you can almost call it an act of altruism. If you start caring for your well-being at first, you’ll get your power and alignment back, you’ll feel well – therefore, your social environment will automatically feel well too. How do you expect to influence your environment and surroundings in a positive way as long as you’re stuck in a downward spiral?
Everything we do to ourself, we also do to others,
and everything we do to others, we do to ourself as well.
(Thich Nhat Hanh)
Have you already experienced the feeling when a person opposite you starts laughing from the bottom of their heart, you literally become infected by his laugh and find yourself doing the same? And we all know that it’s the same with yawning. How does it feel when you hurt someone?
We are all connected with each other on a subtle level, so we can share and perceive our energies. Meaning, if you’re serving yourself well, you’re also serving everyone around you. So YES, you CAN carry your fellows in this upward spiral filled with joy, abundance and love. You can capture their imagination for life.
~ How you can treat yourself in a better way ~
Now we went through a fair amount of theory…probably you’ll ask yourself: how may I transfer this whole thing in my daily life?
Taking time for yourself is a process of learning. Especially introverted and highly sensitive people often struggle with this step of allowing themselves to take distance and protect their own energy. But you’ll notice very soon that it’s a natural process and eventually, you’ll thank yourself for taking this time.
- MAKE A DECISION: Everything starts inside the brain; everything starts with your thoughts. The very first step towards self-care is to make a decision with saying “YES” to yourself.
- OBSERVE & REALIZE: Give yourself a little bit of time, preferably in the evening before you go to bed. Feel inside your body and reflect the day; what did you do well and what did you struggle with? Write down your first impulses, feelings and thoughts. Which people serve you, which rather spoil your energy? Which tasks (active or passive) give and which rob your energy? Write down a collection of your self-reflected feelings that support you in getting more energy and fulfilment during the day. You can continue this list anytime.
- ACT: With the process of observing mindfully your well-being, you’ll be able to find out intuitively what you really need to feel powerful. Where, with whom and what you really can charge your physical and mental batteries. It’s often the simple things and little moments, like going for a walk, sleeping 1-2 hours longer, having an energising breakfast, reading one of your most favourite authors’ book, whatever it might be.
- SET YOURSELF PRIORITIES: Just as we plan our business meetings, our work, the household, etc. within the all-day life, we should consciously choose and plan a “me-time”. This means at the same time to say “No” once in a while; at least if you feel like you’d do this only to please someone, your family or a friend. Change priorities in your life and give yourself every day a few moments of this “me-time”.
Start to act and therefore to care for yourself!
When was the last time you asked yourself “Hey dear, how are you doing today?”, as you normally ask your friends or parents. Has it already been quite a while ago? Or don’t you remember such a moment at all? So, it’s time to start right now!
Become the bodyguard of your energies, your power and your well-being.
~ Conclusion: Self-care is the key to your empowerment ~
Our inner voice has never stopped talking to us. The only thing that has changed is us, once we stopped listening to this voice. We decided (unconsciously) to match the expectations that influence us from the outside, but not to be ourselves from the inside anymore.
Now is the time to live YOUR creative power.
Become your own best friend. Take your internal, indigent SELF by the hand and nurture yourself as you would your beloved little child, your newborn. Don’t allow the outer attractions to bring imbalance into your inner world that may injure you physically, mentally and spiritually.
Take the following head-note as yours:
>I am TAKING CARE of MYSELF!<
…and repeat it 3-5 times before you go to bed and 3-5 times instantly after waking up in the morning! Decide NOW and allow yourself to be worth feeling good!
- Listen to your inner voice.
- Start acting and do exactly what you need right now.
- Thank yourself for being there for you, anytime and everywhere!
It absolutely makes sense that if you shifted self-care onto the top of your priority list, you would feel more rested, more centred, more present to your loved ones, more joyful…the list goes on!
So, I’m ending this article with these lines!
Take care of yourself, lots of love & Namasté,