Creating a Life you Love: How Self-Care Leads to Joy
As a coach and wellness practitioner, I have always embraced and promoted the wisdom of self-care, that “self-care is essential” for our lives and living and that “self-care is a very necessary form of self-love,” both as a way of being in my own personal life, as well as in my work with my clients. Unfortunately, with the tendency to focus on particular (i.e., luxury) tools of self-care rather than its deeper purpose, the wisdom and value of self-care can be lost in popular culture. It seems just as self-care made its mainstream debut, it just as quickly suffered a backlash. I believe it is time we reclaim the wisdom of self-care from this backlash with the truth of what self-care is really all about, what self-care really looks like and how practicing a lifestyle of self-care, especially for those who work in service of others, is necessary, essential and can be achieved without the luxury price tag.
Self-care is not just about doing what makes you feel good in a moment. Self-care is not massages, spa-days, walks in the park, a break from work, a break from your partner, an annual vacation, etc. These are potential tools of self-care. Self-care is about something much deeper than all of that. More important than the tools one uses for their self-care is what the act of self-care serves and accomplishes. Once you understand what self-care does, what you need your self-care to do for you, the tools required for your own self-care will become evident.
For many, particularly those who offer themselves in service to others, self-care can help re-member those parts of ourselves we sacrificed in the past, so that we can fully be here now, and move forward whole. Self-care reminds us that placing ourselves, our needs, our dreams at the center of our own lives, is not only a necessary act of self-care but an essential act of self-love that empowers us to offer our best selves as we serve others. Self-care allows us to be whole so that we can serve whole; be full so that we can serve fully; be replenished so that we can serve continually. Self-care assures we ‘be’ well, so we can do well, so we can live well, so we can give well. Self-care provides the example to the next generation of ‘self’-givers of how to truly give of themselves in ways that maintain and sustain them for the job and thereby end the cycle of self-sacrifice and martyrdom of the very thing we seek to offer in service to and for the world – ourselves.
Self-care is both a practice and a lifestyle. Self-care is a choice – and that choice is you choosing in favor of you: your needs, your health, your dreams, your voice, your joys, your peace of mind. Self-care is choosing the time and space you need to advance your healing, your growth, your creativity, your passions, your purpose, your gifts, your empowered sense of self, and your overall well-being. Self-care is you acting in favor of, and in alignment with, your values, your innate wisdom and your intuition; especially when they’re telling you it’s time to re-center yourself in your own life, focus on you and take care of your needs. Self-care is knowing that when you make a practice of choosing in favor of you, when you place caring for your ‘self’ at the core of your living and lifestyle, you are simultaneously putting yourself in position to be of the greatest service to others. And despite all the martyrdom and self-sacrifice notions that have attempted to teach us otherwise, there is evidence both ancient and contemporary (from African proverbs, to ancient Egyptian philosophy, to biblical creed, even to today’s flight attendant instructions) that self-care is the essential condition for wise living and being of service to others.