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 fundraisers, 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 about 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 transformational coach/teacher, I have studied, explored, written books about and taught self-care to men and women globally for more than 25 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 (ex: 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 about self-improvement. It’s not about 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 “your 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 support you in having a kinder, gentler relationship with yourself.
SEEKING SUPPORT FOR SELF-CARE & RESILIENCY? HERE ARE THREE OPPORTUNITIES:
- November–January ~ *Download today* Still, Dark & Quiet: A Deep Rest Virtual Retreat ~ Winter is near. You’re invited to slow down, go inward and relax in silence. Enjoy this 2.5 hour meditative virtual retreat 24/7 from the comfort of your home. Includes a long Yoga Nidra session. Learn more/register. Only $49.
- January 19th-21st ~ Sing, Dance, Pray: Romancing the Beloved at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (Berkshire Mountains, MA). Starts at just $635; our favorite deeply restorative winter retreat. Learn more/register.
- JOB OPENING: WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT COMMUNICATIONS INTERNSHIP! Know a savvy, professional junior or senior communications student? We have a wonderful, rare opportunity (virtual or in-person) just outside of Asheville, NC. Learn more: Women’s Empowerment Spring 2024 Communications Internship.
- Wild Souls Nature Adventures (based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC): authentic movement classes, community song circles, full moon hikes, meditation workshops, women’s circles & more. New offerings are listed each week; have me design a custom experience for your team/friends. Join us Sunday, Nov. 19th for Wild Souls Authentic Movement class near Asheville, NC. Learn more.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women find balance through the art/science of self-care, Renee has been facilitating high-impact, interactive workshops for Fortune 500 companies, national nonprofits/conferences and organizations/teams worldwide for 25 years. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Fast Company, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, AARP, Spirituality & Health and more. She and her team have certified more than 450 facilitators in 10 countries around the globe to lead self-renewal groups/retreats based on her pioneering self-care curriculum. She’s the author of two books on life balance including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. She and her husband live in Western North Carolina and Austin, Texas; her latest venture is Wild Souls Nature Adventures. More on Renee here.