Being as Kind to Yourself as You Are to Other People
After the year-that-shall-not-be-named, we find ourselves needing a hard reset, a re-focusing on our wellness.
We’re all carrying something more tender than what we share on the stage of social media, but the performance of face masks and bubble baths won’t heal those deeper heartaches. We need real self-care.
Taking care of ourselves is hard work. Especially if we have other obligations: family, work, pets, bills, homes—the bare minimum can feel excruciatingly out of reach sometimes, and self-care just adds another thing to the list.
But we can re-frame our perspective around taking good, true care of ourselves by remembering that self-care is as simple as self-respect.
When is the last time you did something nice for yourself?
Like many people, you may easily remember the last time you did something nice for someone else but struggle to recall the last time you did something nice for yourself. Our society values being kind to friends, family and neighbors. Unfortunately, we tend to ignore being kind to ourselves although caring for ourselves is essential for being able to care for others.
We sometimes use “self-care” as a representative for “self-compassion.”
But they’re actually different concepts. Self-compassion is regarding yourself compassionately. Self-care, by contrast, is treating yourself compassionately. The two terms sound interchangeable, but both contain a thinking versus doing distinction.
Self-care, along with self-compassion, allows us to build and sustain out resilience.
This resilience ensures that we are the best version of ourselves. By giving ourselves a daily dose of compassion, we’re able to approach our work and relationships with a clear, happy mind, thus allowing the cycle of positivity to continue.
You already have a lot of experience being compassionate to those you care about. The trick is just doing a little u-turn so that treat yourself with the same warmth, encouragement and care that you typically show to your loved ones.
Look at it like this, you’re the engine for your life.
If you don't take care of the engine—and keep it fueled—it will not serve you well. Self-care is what helps you reenergize. It helps you rest. It helps you step away from stressful experiences. It gives you the perspective you need to handle your days. And most important, it empowers you to care for others.
Self-care begins with self-compassion.
Habits of self-care are difficult to sustain without a reservoir of compassion toward yourself. Without self-compassion, you tend to unconsciously believe that you don't deserve the care.
You are being compassionate when you view your struggles with a sense of kindness and understanding.
You are being compassionate when you give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You are being compassionate when you understand that you did your best. Self-compassion and self-care have to be an important part of your life practices—individually and collectively—so you can meet the challenges of working and living in stressful times.
Self-compassion is regarding yourself compassionately. Self-care, by contrast, is treating yourself compassionately.
Self compassion can feel unnatural or awkward to be empathetic toward yourself if you tend to be self-critical, but call upon your experience of showing others kindness to guide you toward self-compassion.
You already have a lot of experience being compassionate to those you care about. The trick is just doing a little u-turn so that treat yourself with the same warmth, encouragement and care that you typically show to your loved ones. We need to remind ourselves that we are enough, and, with grace and kindness, we can intentionally support our wellbeing and resilience.