How to take better care of yourself
You want to take better care of yourself. Take good care of yourself. Maybe even take exquisite care of yourself. But no matter how much you want to, you just can't seem to make it happen, or make it stick. This insight will make taking care of yourself a 100 times easier and more accessible. Here we go.
‘Better self-care starts with …
Knowing that the ways in which you (don’t) take care of yourself right now, originated from self-love. No matter how unhelpful, the intention was always to make you feel better.’
Once upon a time there was … self-love
All your inner parts have your best interest at heart and try to contribute to your well-being in their own unique way. The pusher wants to arrange for you to be recognized, the perfectionist wants to keep you safe by preventing failure, the critic has come up with a 100,000 rules that should help you get the love and appreciation you deserve, and so on. No matter how strange - and sometimes even destructive - the methods are, in essence all your inner parts (read: you) love you and try to create the best life for you by pushing or protecting or distracting you (or whatever else it is that they could find in their pretty limited toolboxes). So, all those unhelpful actions and thoughts simply exist because you want to give yourself the best possible life.
THE realization that will help you take better care of yourself
Whatever you do (or don't do) to take care of yourself right now, originated in a good place with the best intentions. So, you're not lazy or weak or too sensitive or insecure. Your mind only tells you that crap in hopes that your perfect life will magically appear - because that's how it works in the black-and-white world of your brain.
This is important to realize, because as long as you are condemning yourself to infinity (and beyond) for everything you do and don’t do self-care-wise, you’ll have no space or energy to actually change something about it.
What this can look like in practice – a personal example
I can’t tell you how many times I, as someone who has always struggled with disordered eating and my weight, have received comments like: ‘Being truly kind to yourself is NOT eating that cookie’.
And of course I'm not going to claim that a healthy lifestyle - and the choices that support it - would not be good self-care, for sure, but I do want to ask you this: does it help you, after doing something that’s not aligned with your bigger plans and desires, to criticize and judge and disapprove of yourself? I don’t think so. This will only increase the chance that you’ll grab another cookie, and a little later the whole box will suddenly be empty.
Better self-care is more accessible than you think
At such a time it's helpful to (try to) remind yourself that you had the best intentions with this cookie. In the short term, it was something that comforted or distracted you, or helped you relax or ground yourself. You wanted to make yourself to feel a bit better (or less bad) and you knew the cookie would accomplish this. Of course, now you wish you had restrained yourself, but apparently the situation was too challenging or you simply haven't yet collected enough alternative ways to give yourself what the cookie gave you in that moment.
Everything you do originates from a place of self-love. You are not lazy or undisciplined or bad at life, these are just the ways in which you currently know how to make yourself feel a little better / less bad (in the short term). Focus on the intention, not the execution, and it will give you access to the love that’s already present within you.
The difference is in the self-connection
When you realize that you meant well, and/or look at it as a signal that something internal needs your attention, you are more likely to be able to resume your new lifestyle after this experience. Also, when approached from this perspective, the experience creates more rather than less self-connection. Because you’ve learned something about yourself and have shown yourself compassion for your humanness and your current experience.
You're only human and you're doing the best you can
And so you see how you almost automatically are able to take better care of yourself as soon as you focus on the intention instead of the not-so-successful execution. Even the most destructive behaviors are fueled by an unmet need for which you, in the moment, cannot find a better solution. That doesn't make it bad. And it definitely doesn't make you bad. Just a human being. Trying to create a good life for themselves.
All the changes that you so badly want to see take place, cannot be achieved by simply pushing through and clinging to the newest self-care routine. They will be a natural consequence when you start to offer yourself a shit-ton of compassion – just the way you are right now & no matter what your current self-care looks like.
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