Self-care is not about improving yourself
One Sunday morning I was lying in bed reading from author Anne Lamott’s beautiful little book Small Victories. In one of her stories about parenting, she shares with a little self-deprecation, but mostly tenderness, how she doesn’t bake for PTA fund raisers, is often disorganized and sometimes forgets to follow-through on updates from her son’s school. Her ability to accept who she is is both endearing and freeing.
Her story got me thinking how so many people I meet have a misguided sense about the concept of self-care. I often hear a lot of “shoulds,” and many confess they downright suck at self-care.
A a life balance coach/teacher, I have studied, explored, written books about and taught self-care to men and women globally for more than 20 years. I can wholeheartedly share that self-care–a practice that has changed my life more than any other– is NOT about:
-fixing yourself or turning yourself into a “makeover version” of you
-trying to become someone who “has it all together” or who’s always wise and calm
-being perfect or doing what our parents, friends or the media say we should do to be our best selves (go gluten-free or do more yoga)
-striving to be more worthy through accomplishing more or adhering to society’s list of “shoulds” around parenting, relationships or (fill in the blank)
-spending a bunch of money on services or products that are supposed to make us more fit, beautiful, smart, etc.
Self-care isn’t a goal you strive for. And it’s not about becoming YOU Version 2.0. It’s about meeting yourself where you are with a soft and open heart. It’s believing “my ordinary self is enough.” It’s feeling safe enough to show up in the world 100% you and inherently giving others permission to do the same.
Self-care is about attuning and responding to your needs and desires moment to moment (watch a video). It’s about being compassionate with yourself when you bump up against your faults and treating yourself with the same love and tenderness you would have for a four year-old who’s had a really hard day. It’s not about adding something to your to-do list, cracking the whip, or finally getting in shape. The true art of self-renewal is about cultivating a kinder, gentler relationship with yourself and asking for and receiving the nurturing and nourishment you truly need-whether that’s a hug or a shoulder to cry on. It’s knowing that YOU have your back. And that no matter what you say, do or flub-you will not abandon yourself.
TAKE ACTION: This week notice how you treat and talk to yourself. How would you describe the relationship? Do you sound like a drill sergeant, a loving grandparent or a wise and trusted mentor? Share your observations with someone you trust. I’d love to support you in learning the art/science of self-care and cultivating a kinder/gentler relationship with yourself at an upcoming retreat or through one of my self-care teleclasses (audio classes you can access 24/7). Let me know how I can help.
SEEKING SUPPORT FOR SELF-CARE & RESILIENCY? HERE ARE TWO OPPORTUNITIES:
- Consider hiring me to create a workshop to help your team, organization or employees feel less stressed and more resilient, energized and focused. My primary work is speaking to professionals worldwide on how to find balance through practicing the art/science of self-care. Whether it’s an in-person workshop, keynote or via a Zoom session, I’d love to support your team now or in the future. Learn more here.
- It’s OK to look ahead! Envision yourself with me at a 2020 self-renewal retreat. Come fill your well, get clear on what’s next for you and sink into connection & support with like-minded women (my next retreat is July 17-19 in CA). Learn more.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 400 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups and women’s retreats based on her work. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 18-year-old son. More on Renee here.