A few years back while facilitating a women’s retreat at Esalen in Big Sur, CA, and neck-deep with my group in an exercise around self-care–the art of attuning and responding to your needs and desires moment to moment–I asked the circle, “Do you feel safe with yourself?”
The room grew silent. Out of a group of 40 women, only one raised her hand, nodding her head tentatively.
As we unpacked this idea, most of the women shared that every day in big and small ways–whether it’s eating when they’re not hungry, packing their schedules too full with activities or staying in a relationship that ended years ago–they abandon themselves. They dismiss that still small voice–their Wise Self–who always knows what’s in her best interest. Or they turn their back on her completely.
How often do you abandon yourself?
I remember constantly negating my needs in my 20’s and 30s–especially when it came to romantic and platonic relationships. Trying to find (and hold on to myself), in the midst of complex human dynamics, often felt squishy and nebulous. I threw myself “under the bus” more times than I’d like to remember.
Recently my teenage son and I talked about friendships (remember the “minefield” of friendship terrain in high school?). He has off-the-charts emotional intelligence so I largely leave him on his own to figure this out. But I often remind him the most important thing is to be “true to you.” To not sacrifice who you are for others. To choose friends who nourish your heart and spirit and let you show up warts and all.
One of the most powerful gifts I’ve received from my 20-year self-care practice (read more) is a strong and unwavering allegiance to self. I have learned the hard way, like most, that you’ll never win trying to please others. But you always win if you stay in integrity with yourself–even though sometimes this means leaving a trail of disgruntled people in your wake.
Once I attended a workshop with Jack Kornfield, a world-renowned meditation teacher and author of After the Ecstasy, the Laundry (and many other titles). At the end of our session, he gave us each a gold thread and invited us to make three promises to ourselves–tying three knots in the thin cord to symbolize these touchstones. We were invited to wear the thread around our ankle, neck, wrist, etc. for as long as we liked to remind us of our commitment to ourselves.
My three promises were: to let go (I never stop working on this), to do less (I’m always overextending) and to show my love more.
I wore my golden thread until it became so thin, it eventually fell off my wrist in my yoga class one day. But even after this physical reminder was gone, the visceral feeling of what’s it like to “have my own back” and know that no matter what, I won’t abandon myself–still remains.
Did this theme resonate with you? Join me Wed. Dec. 2nd from 3-4 ET with 3 Women Present for a kitchen-table chat on self-care–register here. And, join me Sunday, Dec. 20th for STILLNESS, a virtual retreat where you’ll learn to cultivate this skill; see below.
HOW CAN I SUPPORT YOU? HERE ARE TWO OPPORTUNITIES:
- **Just announced!** Space is limited. Join me Dec. 20th from 1-4:30 p.m. for STILLNESS: A Winter Solstice Women’s Retreat (virtual/online). Learn more/register here.
- I’m booking 2021-2022 workshops and presentations now! Consider hiring me to create an online balanced living experience to help your team, organization or employees feel less stressed and more resilient, creative and focused. For 20+ years I’ve been working with companies/organizations like Merrill Lynch, the Center for Women in Law, the Hewlett Foundation and more. Whether it’s a workshop, keynote or custom retreat via Zoom, I’d love to discuss how I can support your team or organization. Learn more here.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/author/speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art and 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 life coaching 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 Brevard, NC and Austin, TX with her husband and is enjoying being a recent empty nester. More on Renee here.