Self-care is fighting back. It is standing up to everything that pulls against your happiness, attention, and sense of self-worth. Self-care is giving yourself permission to say “no” to people, places, and things that make you feel unworthy or unsafe. It means that you refuse to let anxiety kick your ass and that, whenever you possibly can, you dig deeper, to the cause of the pain.
Self-care isn’t new age mumbo-jumbo, but you may have to have a little extra patience when you explain it to your grandma. Self-care sometimes includes yoga, meditation, or exercise. For you, it might be centering prayers. For someone else, it could be massage therapy.
Self-care is absolutely not selfish, although lots of people view it that way. Self-care is putting yourself first for a while and trusting that the world will continue to spin on its axis, even if you aren’t pushing. Self-care is giving yourself permission to take off the cape and tights, and instead, wrap yourself in a warm blanket or a hug.
Self-care could be an afternoon nap or a hot cup of tea. Self-care might be a book that comforts your soul, or a long talk at the graveside of the one you ache for. It sometimes looks like a hard cry, and deep breaths, and lots of confession – because confession really is good for your soul.
Self-care is walking down the rickety steps of the dilapidated old building where you house the memories of all the bad things that have happened to you. Self-care empowers you to walk away from the pain and disappointment, to say goodbye to the haters and those who always think they know better. Self-care gives you that little extra push to hold your head high, as your middle finger salutes your critics.
Self-care is a big fat “hell no” to shame and a resounding “hallelujah” to everything that makes you feel loved, happy, safe, healthy, whole, valuable, at peace, motivated, connected, accepted, and wanted. Self-care says “bring it on” to everything that gives you life, and “absolutely not” to anyone or anything that wounds your soul.
Self-care saves marriages. Self-care restores friendships. Self-care saves jobs and reminds you that your value is found in who you are, not what you do. Self-care protects your dignity. Self-care saves lives.
With self-care, the outward options are endless, but inside it always looks like kindness. Self-care and self-compassion walk hand-in-hand. Why? Because unthinkable things happen to us, which cause great sadness. People say and do things that damage the way we view ourselves, and that’s why self-care often looks like self-love.
*This post was also featured on The Mighty.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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