We’re so good at “taking care of business”. Day in and day out, we cross off the list of tasks that need to get done from our ever growing, “To Do List”, but how many of those important tasks or chores have to do with your own self-care? More and more we busy ourselves, separating our mental and physical well-being from our emotional and spiritual selves. Lots of the time we’re going through the motions, barely aware of what we’re doing. But, here’s the crazy part, some part of us may find that there are definite advantages to being disconnected from our emotional and spiritual selves.
Here are some of them:
- You get to justify inaction
- You get to hide and play safe
- You get to blame someone/ something else
- You think you’re nurturing yourself
- You don’t have to do the hard work of self-actualization
Unfortunately, that separation can prove to be more harmful than you may think. First, it slowly erodes your self-esteem. Constantly putting yourself and your needs last sends a clear message to others, the Universe and also to yourself that “I’m not important. I don’t matter.” Sooner or later, you actually start believing that you’re not important enough to be on your own list. Then, on the few occasions when you do attempt to take care of yourself, you may be so guilt-ridden, you didn’t even get to enjoy the much-needed break you just gave yourself.
Subconsciously, you also teach those around you not to take your needs seriously. If you continually give the message that you’re okay with not having your needs met, you can’t really be surprised when that’s the way people respond to you. Self-worth begins with valuing yourself- the echo that you are important starts from within and radiates outward.
In a recent PhD study that I conducted, I learned that what often leads to the shock of betrayalhad to do with that disconnect-there’s no blame or judgment here, just something I consistently saw in every one of my participants, including myself. The most common mental ailments experienced by people who were betrayed are disbelief and shock. We’re so blindsided because we’re great at getting things done, often at the expense of checking in to see if we’re meeting our needs for love, intimacy, self-care, sleep, etc. When we stop paying attention or tuning into our needs, it’s harder to recognize those gentle nudges we may have intuitively been receiving but didn’t have the time or bandwidth to pay attention to. Because we’re so deeply immersed in checking things off our to-do list, we’re often less aware of the emotional signals that may have given us a heads up about the dysfunction we’re shocked to discover.
Keeping a healthy mental/physical and emotional/spiritual balance can feel challenging. Being fearful of the truths you might uncover when you dig below the surface to learn that you may be bored with your job, unhappy in your relationship, or just want a little more out of life, is understandable. Yet, that information may be just what you needed to make a change. Also, you might have the added pressure of “what now?” This creates a cascade of questions that’ll need answers and most likely, invite you to make some changes. As scary as it may be, there are clear benefits to those changes which lead to greater self-care:
- You learn and grow.
- You build confidence.
- You get to move forward.
- You enjoy new experiences and fulfilling relationships.
- You feel good- mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
I’m often asked, “So how am I supposed to change my life? Am I supposed to drop everything and just take care of me?” Change takes time- be patient with yourself. This is where I like to implement the “One More” rule. It’s a rule I created years ago that can drastically improve your life. The best part is, you can do it one small change at a time.
So, what would that look like, that one more simple act to honor yourself or your spirit? Would it be another moment to make a meaningful connection? Another moment to breathe in, write in your journal, or another minute laughing with a friend? Perhaps it’s introducing something new into your life- one more healthy snack, or a walk around the block.
We’ve been conditioned to overlook the importance of balancing our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs, but doing so is crucial to our well-being. Taking the time to eat right, exercise, relieve stress, rest, and enjoy life can make all the difference in the world not only with our quality of life, but also in the richness of our relationships. It doesn’t mean avoiding your responsibilities and obligations, but rather finding a happy balance.
Do you take the time to take care of you? Are there any techniques that help you along? I’d love to hear about them.