Recently, during a presentation I did for a women-in-business organisation, I was asked: Do you have any tips for actually being able to fit self-care in?
Do I have any tips?! Why yes, indeed I do. In fact, I could fill a spreadsheet with little tips that make it easier, but the place I started was probably unexpected for most. It wasn’t about scheduling or habit-stacking; it was about the way we think about self-care.
My TOP tip is a shift in mindset.
I know, I know ... Mindset is such a buzz word. It can feel kinda intangible and fluffy. But our thoughts - which is what mindset refers to - really matter.
Here’s the thing: when you think about self-care, what comes to mind? Is it something like - I should look after myself so that I can be the best version of me? Or a better version of me? Or because you’ve heard it’s good for productivity or your long-term wellbeing? Is it that Susie on Instagram has the life you’d like and so her self-care methods feel aspirational and transformative?
Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these responses. Wanting to look after your long-term wellbeing is an awesome thing to consider. It’s just that, at their core, none of these reasons center our relationship with ourselves. And that, my friend, is key.
The number one shift we need to make when it comes to actually freeing up the time for self care is to have a desire to be our own best friend.
It’s this desire to have a kind and loving relationship with ourselves that sets the stage for the HOW and WHAT of self-care. It’s like that classic Simon Sinek book - Start with Why - our relationship with ourselves is the WHY and that gets things rolling on the how and what.
Now, we might have that desire - for a loving relationship with ourselves - long before we know how to actually do it, right? Right now you might feel stuck in a cycle of pushing and punishing yourself, or feeling like you don't even know yourself. And the good news is you don’t have to know how right out of the gate. What you do need is a desire to have that kind, loving, best-friend relationship with yourself.
So let’s dive into four tips for creating this shift:
ONE: Decide that you want a loving, kind, best-friend relationship with yourself.
TWO: Be curious about the things that you say to yourself when you are ignoring your needs or struggling to do the things that support you.
Curiosity replaces judgment here - it’s simply a way of starting to notice what thoughts and things pull us away from the relationship we’ve decided we want with ourself.
THREE: Respond to yourself as you would to a dear friend for whom you want the very best.
What would you say to them? Ask yourself: if this was my bestie, how would I talk to her? You love her so much and want the best for her. You don't want to see her put herself at the bottom of the priority list, you don't want to see her suffer under her own self criticism. What would you say to her if she was experiencing what you’re experiencing now? And then turn that to yourself.
FOUR: Get to know yourself through a lens that is compassionate.
We often get to know ourselves through a lens that is very judgmental and critical, and it doesn’t move us towards the growth that we desire. So let’s flip it to compassion. Compassion is not about making ourselves wrong or beating ourselves up. It's about gathering information so that we can have more insight into the way that we function, so that we can show up for ourselves more clearly in the ways that we need.
Notice that not once have I mentioned anything to do with self-care ACTIONS. This is important too, obviously. But that’s the topic for another post, another day.
What I know for sure though, is that when we focus on our relationship with ourselves - and choose for that to be one of kindness, compassion and love - it sets into motion a completely different way of self-relating and it can transform the way you look at self-care.
Thoughts? You know I’d love to hear from you.
Enjoyed this post? Share it with a friend! And you might just love episode 197 of the podcast - SelfKind with Erica Webb. You can find it here or wherever you listen to your favourites.