This month I would like to share about the importance of “self-care”. You may also find interesting information on this subject reading articles on “positive selfishness” or “selfhood”. Why this topic? One of the main events in the calendar for this month of February is Valentine’s Day. Of course it is a beautiful thing to celebrate love and show a little additional attention to those who make our life special. I am taking the risk of saying something that is awfully commonplace yet little observed: we do not take care enough of ourselves. We forget or deny ourselves and turn a deaf ear to a lot of our most fundamental needs. So, in parallel to honoring our loved ones let me also make a reminder of the importance of treating ourselves well on a daily basis.
Undeniably there are periods of time when we want to make a special effort to reach a specific goal. It takes time and awareness to achieve balance between the multitude of activities we want or feel we have to accomplish. Yet, even when things are crystal clear, that we have time at hand, that we know what we want, have the means to do it and how to get it we postpone or cancel a lot of possibilities to enhance our lives.
My guess is that part of the problem is that a lot of us have a negative view of self-care and associate it with self-centeredness or selfishness. I worked for several years as a massage therapist and I cannot count the number of times when I had anxious moms feeling guilty to use the gift certificate they were offered on Mother’s Day because it meant that there were a ton of other things they could be doing at that moment and it felt truly uncomfortable for them to take a break and enjoy an hour for themselves.
It took me a lot of time and it is still a fierce battle with myself to allow my little person to rest when I am tired, take a break to eat when I am hungry, get in bed when I am sick or play when I still have items on my to-do list. I observe once again that I am far from being the only one. Yet, I am clear that the days when I make time to take care of my physical and emotional well being I am far more efficient, I am more focused, more energetic and I enjoy myself a great deal more. Do you think that having experienced that on a regular basis it is now an automatism? Certainly not is the answer! Why? There is always something important or urgent to do! I do not feel in the mood. I am too tired etc.
There is no such bargaining in other areas of my life. If I do not put gas in my car, if I forget to change the oil or constantly delay any of the regular maintenance the next sure thing is that it will breakdown. And just like a car nothing is maintenance-free. To be efficient I need maintenance. How can I truly be efficient, happy and have healthy relationships with others if I am hungry, exhausted, depleted, and lacking sleep, physically in pain, overwhelmed and/or at the end of my rope? Obviously, I cannot. And as Richard Moss said “The distance from another is the distance from ourselves”.
It is as simple as that. Self-care is no more or no less than maintenance. It is fundamental to any sustainable efficiency and meaningful relationships with others. ”Charity begins home,” they say. And I work on a daily basis remembering and applying this to my life. Using others as an excuse is so easy. Then we delve into many other areas such as “people pleasing”, chronic incapacity to say “no”, wanting to be nice, helping out others instead of taking on our own personal business and the rest of the list is long. It is a long process to become aware of such behaviors since most of them are so deeply rooted in our everyday lives. It takes time, acceptance and patience to identify them and modify them. It is uncomfortable as well but the reward is worth it. The reward is a healthier and more authentic existence. Self-care is the indispensable maintenance to ensure a smooth ride.