You are important to you and to everyone significant in your life, so why wouldn’t you look after yourself? We look after our kids, our partners, our family, our friends, our pets, even our plants! We look after most things in our lives in one way or another so why is it that so many of us most often neglect the most critical thing to our lives – ourselves! Let’s face it, if ourselves went kaput, there would be no ME, YOU or I and THEY would suffer too and that would all be pretty awful!
How do you determine if you need to up the ante on self-care and self-compassion?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you put everyone else first before you think of yourself?
- Do you feel guilty if you do something nice for yourself?
- Do you set high expectations for yourself?
- Are you always striving for perfection but never feel that you achieve it?
- Do you often feel like you’re not good enough – that you are a fraud?
- Is your primary focus pleasing others?
- Do you beat yourself up for perceived failures or fears?
- Are you frequently self-critical?
- Do you let your self-doubts rule your life, feed your fears and squash your dreams?
- Do you feel happy with how you look? Do you feel happy with how you feel?
- Are you happy?
- Do you like yourself?
If you put a tick against one of the above then you may need to re-assess where YOU fit on your list of priorities. If you put a tick against more than one of the above, then there’s no need to check anything, I’ll just say this: There is a better way! You can feel so much better and everyone important to you will also benefit as a result.
Love turned inwards allows our light to shine bright for others!
Why is Self-Care and Self-Compassion important anyway?
Self-Care is to look after yourself! It is critically important in helping you stay at the top of your physical, emotional and mental well-being. When you were a child it was your parents responsibility to look after you. As an adult it is your responsibility to look after you! Are you being a responsible adult?
Self-Compassion involves being warm and understanding toward ourselves (just as we would be to others) when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or beating ourselves up with self-criticism. It means being kind and learning to love ourselves.
We each deserve the same respect and care for ourselves from ourselves that we give to others. Would you impose any or all of the behaviours you ticked above on someone you love? No? Then why do you think it’s ok to do that to yourself? Think of those behaviours again and imagine if you applied that same treatment to someone you loved? What impact on them do you think it would have in the long-term? What would be the consequences of that kind of long-term abuse (and yes it is abuse)?
We all know that when we fly on a plane we are told that in the event of an emergency we are to put our own oxygen masks on first before then helping others to put theirs on. By looking after ourselves first, we are then better able to serve others. The same applies to life in general. If we do what is necessary to keep our tanks full, we are then better placed to best serve ourselves and others.
Food for Thought:
- Being a martyr is a waste of time – no one will thank you!
- Never taking the time to nourish your soul, tend to your passions, feed your social needs and so on – will result in bitterness, sadness and a loss of self.
- Working yourself to the bone without listening to your body: resting it when it’s tired or taking it outdoors for activity when it needs movement, will result in illness.
- Constantly berating yourself and sending yourself demeaning and negative messages will erode your self-confidence and make you feel pretty darn crappy about yourself!
- Every human being has some degree of self-doubt but if you let it control you it can destroy your heart, body, mind and soul and become a major obstacle to you living the life you would like to and that you deserve!
- Self-Care and Self-Compassion = Self Love. Self Love = regard for one’s own well-being and happiness.
How do I know this stuff?
I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a doctor but I am qualified to talk on this subject more than many. Why? Because I neglected my own self-care for a very long time and am still dealing with the consequences (I touch on this on my About page and in this post). The best thing to come of this is that I have learned many lessons that I can not only fix with myself but I can share them with you.
So where do you start in order to improve your self-care and self-compassion?
If you’ve identified a need to up the ante on your self-care and/or self-compassion then the first step is to step back and take a look at how you are doing things right now (what I call a ‘self-audit’). Grab yourself a pen and a piece of paper. Ask yourself some questions and jot down your answers. Here are some example questions but the possibilities of questions to ask yourself are endless.
Some questions to ask yourself in order to conduct a self-audit:
- How are you feeling? Are you tired, stressed, feeling sad and/or unfulfilled? What do you think is causing this?
- Do you feel pulled in a million different directions? Why is this?
- Are you spending enough time with the important people in your life?
- Are there people you spend time with that deplete your tank?
- Do you ever have a mind that feels at peace?
- Do you get enough time to yourself?
- When was the last time you did something nice for yourself?
- Do you feel that you are ‘enough’?
- Would you treat someone you love the same as you treat yourself (including what you say to yourself within your mind)?
- Do you feel loved?
- Are you a people pleaser?
Once you’ve finished your little self-audit, the next step is to take a look at what you need to do to rectify any of the problems you have identified.
Here’s some examples:
- Self Audit Note (relative to Q1): Yes, I’m tired and I’m stressed – because I work full-time, have 3 children, a husband and a house to run. I’m constantly exhausted and I never get a moment to myself or time to do anything nice for myself. Any free time I have is devoted to serving others as a result of the guilt I feel for not having enough time for those I love.
What can I do to help rectify this problem? I have to work because we need the money but I guess I could communicate more with my husband and let him know I’m struggling and need help to keep my head above water. A cleaner once a fortnight would help ease my workload and free up some time. A break from cooking some nights would allow me more down time. I’d like to see my girlfriends more so perhaps I could organise a monthly lunch catch up. With some help around the house providing some more free time, it would be lovely to use that on weekends for going on an occasional family outing.
- Self Audit Note (relative to Q6 & Q7): I never get time alone. I’m at work all day surrounded by work colleagues. I come home and I am surrounded by my family. I crave some quiet time and head space. Come to think of it, I have been feeling exhausted, stressed and unfit for a long time but haven’t done anything nice for myself to help lift my spirits or make me feel better!
What can I do to help rectify this problem? Regular time alone would give me the peace and head space I crave. Maybe I could couple up the need for alone time with the need to incorporate exercise back into my life by going on regular long walks!
- Self Audit Note (relative to Q8): No – I’m always striving to be and do better but never reach a point where I feel I am enough. Other people always seem to be more successful, more smart, more clever … than I am.
What can I do to help rectify this problem? I guess I’m so focused on what I haven’t yet achieved that I forget to take the time to recognize all that I have already achieved. I also need to focus on all the positive qualities that I have and stop comparing myself to others and feeling less than them!
The key is to really get to know yourself: what depletes you, what fills you up, what makes you happy, what makes you sad, what gives you energy, etc!
Get the picture of how to do this exercise now? It’s time to stop neglecting yourself and time to become a priority in your life! Work out what you need in order to keep your tank full.
Go forth and fill your tanks people!
This post is part of a 14 ways to help rebuild self-confidence series. The next post topic in the series will be: Enjoy Life – the benefits are priceless!
Ciao for now,
Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT