“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself and that person is not to be found anywhere.” ~Buddha
My parents both experienced some really tough things in their childhoods. As a result, my siblings and I were raised to be strong and self-reliant. These are excellent qualities and I am grateful to my parents for instilling them in us. But somewhere along the line, I got the messages of my own childhood out of balance. I took self-reliance to an extreme. I have trouble asking for help. That’s not exactly true - I would be happy to ask for help if I was able to admit to myself that I need help, which I’m not. And I don’t. The message I received as a kid (although unintentionally sent) was that emotion equals weakness, and showing vulnerability is dangerous. As a result, I was always in controlI was the go-to person for getting shit done. I took responsibility for everything. I did what I thought I was supposed to do, never considering what I really wanted. I squashed my feelings and wore myself right out. I ’good-girled’ my way to being sick, overwhelmed, and exhausted. It wasn’t until my late thirties that I finally started to think about what I wanted out of life. Although I was quite good at taking care of everyone else, I had to learn from scratch how to take care of me.
Through my journey toward demanding my joy and nurturing myself, I am learning to feel and express my emotions. I have come a really long way in learning to quiet the critical mean girl in my head and treat myself with kindness, compassion, and love. In other words, I am learning to be my own best friend. It’s new to me. It’s harder than it sounds. And it’s really frickin’ great. The concepts of radical self-care have led me to completely overhaul my life: I lost a huge amount of weight and cleaned up my physical health; I changed my appearance to one that much better suits me; I strengthened my marriage; I changed careers; and I can honestly say, I’m happier than I have ever been.
So let’s talk a bit about self-care since it’s one of my favorite topics. In simplest terms, self-care is the pursuit of your own best interests. It means showing love to your mind, body, and spirit. It means befriending, and in some cases, parenting yourself. It means taking ownership of your own joy and making it happen - demanding it for yourself.
So, what kind of a friend are you to you? You spend every second of your entire life with yourself, so it should be a nice relationship. For example, is your inner voice loving and supportive or is it insulting? When you wake up first thing in the morning and look in the mirror, what do you think? Do you think, “Good morning, beautiful!”? or do you think, “Ugh. I look like hell.”? If it’s the latter, then just like that, you have receive your first insult of the day before you’ve even brushed your teeth. How can you be expected to go out into the world to joyfully accomplish great things if someone (you) is insulting you all day long?
How about taking care of your physical health? Do you have far better intentions than actions when it comes to nutrition or exercise? Do you force yourself to do exercise that you hate in order to beat your unsatisfactory body into submission? Or do you show your body some love by breaking a sweat doing something you enjoy? It matters. You can’t punish yourself into a state of wellness.
When thinking about how you care for yourself, start from a place of love. How would you treat your favorite person in the world? Now treat yourself like that. Some guidelines for your consideration:
- Pause and listen. What is your body telling you? What are your emotions telling you? What is your inner wisdom telling you? Be still for a bit and ask them what they need.
- Practice gratitude.
- Practice forgiveness.
- Drink lots of water.
- Get enough sleep.
- Find physical activities that you enjoy.
- Speak up for yourself.
- Do nice things for yourself every day.
- Think and say nice things about yourself.
- Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
- Eat foods that make your body feel happy and energetic.
- Spend your time with people and activities that are meaningful and gratifying to you.
- Treat yourself with kindness, patience and compassion. You really are wonderful. You do not need to be perfect.
- Think about advice that you would five your best friend. Then follow your own advice.
- Set and maintain healthy boundaries. You are allowed to say ‘no’ to things that don’t nourish you.
- Worry less. It’s really going to be OK.
- Don’t postpone joy. Have fun!
- Ask for support. If I can do it, I promise, you can too.
If we at Demanding Joy can help you to take excellent care of yourself, we would love to help! Shoot us a note and let’s chat about it.
Have a joyful day!