Tuesday, 6 August 2013
Self-care for women
A friend posted this on Facebook and I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you all.
Too often I equate "self-care" with actual grooming of my physical body, and this meme(?) reminded me that real self-care involves caring for your mental energy more than your cuticles.
I think women are conditioned to be people-pleasers from the moment we're born, looking pretty, smiling for the camera, being "nice" to everyone, never causing "trouble" by speaking our minds, conforming to the ideal stereotype of a "nice girl", a "good mother", a "lady". In following the invisible prescribed model, many women lose themselves along the way. Some wake up in middle age wondering who they are, and how they came to be in the situation they are in, some fight and get out earlier, some never see it at all. Some of course are nurtured to speak their truth from day one, to listen to their own needs and to honour themselves, but they are few and far between.
So I'm going to take each point above and discuss it, as it relates to me:
1. If it feels wrong, don't do it.
This is a great one, and one I've been practising since my late teens. I think a few years of teenage "going along with the crowd" and feeling uncomfortable taught me to listen to my gut. I still have problems telling people I'm not going to participate in whatever it is, so I'll sometimes invent an excuse, but I'll rarely actually go along with anything that feels wrong anymore. This has nothing to do with experiences outside my comfort-zone, I do push myself sometimes to experience new things, this is more about avoiding people or situations that I know will be negative for me or my kids.
2. Say exactly what you mean.
I feel I suffer from a bit of "foot-in-mouth" syndrome, and sometimes kick myself after a conversation, thinking I could have been a bit more tactful. I mean well, and I pride myself on honesty, but I know it's a fine line sometimes. That said, I haven't seemed to lose any friends over it, so I don't think I've really f*cked up in a big way. I think there is a lot of faffing and nonsense in some areas, so if everyone came clean and actually said what they meant (especially in business/politics) the world would run a bit smoother. Yes, you run the risk of offending someone, but isn't their reaction their issue, and aren't we all only responsible for our own feelings?
3. Don't be a people pleaser.
You know, your friend asks for a favour, it really doesn't suit you, but you do it anyway, and suffer the fallout while kicking yourself afterwards. I am a bit of a people pleaser, I find I'm loading up visitors with food, books, unwanted toys on their way out, even if they are protesting they don't want any of it. I need to work on that. It's all expended energy that could be put to better use.
4. Trust your instincts.
Just yesterday this happened. It involved a workman who I just "felt" was not a trustworthy person, and I'm sorry to say that I hung around out of politeness for a few minutes too long (well, also sussing him out) rather than removing me and my kids from the situation. I still don't trust my instincts first-off, I usually get that "alert" instinct signal, but then argue it down with the logical side of my brain, telling myself I'm paranoid and should trust in human nature a bit more. But then I will act on it if it still feels wrong. I need to bypass the mental argument and just act in future.
5. Never speak bad about yourself.
Only 5 euros in Penney's / But look at my fat ass / Oh, I just dress well to hide it / You should see the state of my house / It's nothing really / It's all just a bit of fun / I've no brain for numbers / It's all split ends / charity shop find etc etc.
I have trouble taking a compliment, and will always give one straight back, or diminish the thing being complimented, which actually comes across as rude. I need to work on saying "thank you" and leave it at that. I've been blogging almost 2 years, and I'm really proud of the body of work I've amassed, but I'll still act as if it's nothing when someone compliments it. One thing I've been careful to take compliments is about my children. I have no trouble admitting how great they are!
6. Never give up on your dreams.
At the moment I'm living my dream, my dream is to be a full-time mom to my boys while they need me. I still have lots of other personal career-driven dreams, which I follow up as much as I can, but this day-to-day life overrides them all, and that's fine for now. I'm looking forward to doing lots of fun things in my 40s and 50s, but I'm ok that the next 10 years will be intense child-rearing, and anything else I achieve in that time is a bonus. It's funny how your priorities change when you have kids, the 18 year old me wouldn't recognise the "me" of today at all!
7. And 8. Don't be afraid to say no or yes.
Saying no is something I'm aware of, and getting better at. It's all about boundaries, which is another new concept I'm learning to apply. I still people please by giving a reason for why I can't do such and such, but I'm wasting less time than ever before doing things I don't want to do, so I figure I'm learning to say no effectively. Yes is a new and scary word sometimes. It opens you up to new possibilities and experiences outside of your comfort zone , and can lead you into a whole lifestyle you never imagined. Yes is good!
9. Be kind to yourself.
I'm learning this the hard way. I question myself first when things don't work out well, and I'm constantly striving to be the best mother/wife/friend I can be. I'm learning to accept my "off" days, and to think in grey terms instead of black and white.
10. Let go of what you can't control.
This is a biggie, for us all. Again, boundaries. You can only control yourself and your own reactions to things. When you let go of trying to make other people happy, you become free. I really love this point and think it's so important.
11. Stay away from drama and negativity as much as possible.
Done and done. I recently read about a notable lady (think it was Elsa Schiaparelli- fashion designer in the 40s) who somebody described as having "no tolerance for nonsense". I've adopted this for myself and I believe if you don't go looking for drama, it won't come looking for you. So much precious time and energy can be wasted on drama, and I need all the energy I've got for my little family, so I guard it wisely.
How do the points strike you? Do you have any to add? Any seem unnecessary?