The 4 steps to self-care: The heart feels what the mind sees.

We are born out of relationships and simultaneously born into relationships too.  As the journeys of our lives traverse, meander and manoeuvre their paths through various twists and turns many people enter and exit at various junctures. Some are just passing acquaintances, some momentary visitors and some stay on for a life time. It is no wonder then that we don so many hats.

Surrounded by the cacophony and milieu of the voices of responsibilities, duties, tasks and expectations that seek to drown out and deafen the presence of your own self, it is easy to simply get swept away. As the external juxtapositions aspire to prioritize their own predominance occasionally we relegate our own bubbling and simmering issues to the farthest corner whilst we juggle what we perceive to be ‘right’.

For all eventuality we are willing to be kinder to the person in front. However when the time comes to reciprocate the same act of kindness to our selves we tend to go a little harsher and perhaps a tad bit more rigid. It must be understood that virtues like compassion and kindness are incomplete unless they incorporate into their ambit our own selves too. And this is where the significance of the term ‘self-care’ comes into relevance.

To me, self-care can be predominantly divided into two parts. An external manifestation and an internal implementation. Each a facet of the same coin, incomplete without the fulfillment of the other. It is not a relegation of one and acceptance of the other. Instead it is a holistic approach of amalgamating the two.

The external manifestation of self-care can be as luxurious and extravagant as your resources permit. And whilst, the importance or feel-good factor of these pampering sessions cannot be overlooked, I feel, the internal manifestation of self-care is equally important too.

We are a creature of habit. And we also are the result of what we do on a repeated basis. What we exude is what we believe. And what we believe is what we become. The notion of self-care thus needs to be implemented in a comprehensive manner. It should be embedded into our subconscious to truly find its completion in the conscious.

These are the 4 points I feel which tend to give impetus to the implementation of internal self-care

Learning to say ‘No’: As a child perhaps, the first mannerisms we inculcate within ourselves is the ability to say ‘No’. But traversing the years from childhood to adulthood we often transgress into the realm of saying ‘Yes’ – at times excessively. I am not trying to profess a love for narcissist behavior. Contrary to this what I seek to convey is that  sometimes saying ‘No’ becomes a crucial key to self-care. An overburdened, over -stressed and over tired psyche can very rarely make positive contributions to any situation. And when we’re mentally tired it is inevitable that our physical selves shall take a toll sooner or later.

To be honest, at the onset saying ‘Yes’ to just about everything resulted in a lot of happy people all around. But soon these favors started taking on the shape, color and hue of ‘rigid expectations’. The happiness, ease and comfort reflected all around came at the sacrifice of the very same things at my end of the spectrum.

Learning to say ‘No’ gracefully is perhaps the first step we take to look out for our own selves.

Taking a step back: We all live very fast paced lives wherein we multitask daily. In a world which celebrates successes and thrives on the principle of the survival of the fittest sometimes we overcrowd our own plates. Whilst principles of conscientiousness and responsibility certainly deserve their own place and due respect yet, it is equally important to retain the importance of acknowledging the fact that we cannot possibly do everything on our own.

In this acknowledgement lies a fundamental step towards self-care. There is no harm in dividing chores. Neither is anyone doing you a favor by helping out. Nor does taking help tantamount to a declaration of weakness or inability.

It is imperative that we stay present in the present. At times the overflowing load on our back, can cause us to get distracted. And I’ve realized my children do not really benefit from a mother who though physically present is mentally absent caught up in things far away.

It is crucial that we prioritize and give due credence to ourselves and the relationships that make our lives more meaningful. Not every problem needs an immediate solution and not every chore requires you to jump up to attention.

In situations when life overwhelms, responsibilities loom, chores stack up and demands grow, it is and should be perfectly acceptable to step back, take a breather and realize that a single person cannot do all. And all of this does not make you any less worthy. In fact, it makes you more human.

Stepping away from the ‘comparison’ game: I believe that the intrinsic habit of comparing ourselves with others has always been present through the years. In the preceding generations perhaps, its proximity was not that close. With the advent of smartphones, internet and social media the propagation of ‘happy lives’, ‘fantastic clothes’, ‘luxurious houses and cars’ and just about anything glamorous and worthy of being flaunted is being touted at us on our faces and right within the four walls of our bedroom.

That we then, fall prey to the clutches and pitfall of comparison should not come as a surprise. But this is the greatest dis-service that we can do to our own selves. Self-care must inherently necessitate the presence of the absence of a certain ‘comparison’ complex. It is not the negation of the desire to succeed. It is the positive affirmation of trying to be relatively content with yourself and thereby freeing your mind of the feelings of paranoia, insufficiency and despondency.

Acknowledging the fact that you are human: Man or Woman whichever way you may choose to look at it, one thing is for certain, and that is that we are far more relaxed when imposing standards of expectations on others. A step to self-care must also simultaneously require the letting go of the habit of berating ourselves and over examining our flaws and errors.

We must firmly adopt a pattern of thinking that resolutely affirms that sometimes despite our best effort’s thing do go pear shaped or take more time that previously envisaged. Both are not a reflection of a flaw. Rather it is the inherent need to recognize that we are human, we do err, we do dust ourselves and get up and we do stand tall.

Happiness is not a future dated event: Lastly and most importantly it is this point that lies at the core of ‘self-care’. It is not that we don’t want to be happy. But somehow we have made happiness conditional to the fulfillment of certain prerequisites. “I’ll be happy when….I have a bigger house, a better car, more money…” – the list is endless.

It is not that the things mentioned above are in any sense inconsequential nor are they unworthy of being desired. While it is important to aspire towards a better future one still needs to be happy in the present. Who knows what tomorrow shall bring, but today once gone can only be reminisced as a yesterday.

The aim of this particular post is not to encourage complacency or the discarding of ambition. It is the need to find the correct balance among the forces that try to destabilize at time.

The above points are in no way exhaustive. I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to internalize ‘self-care’. What are yours?

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