I was recently asked this question “how much self-care is needed each day?” Which begs the question, “what is self-care?”
Before I share what the Holy Grail of Self-Care is, consider this – the self-care/self-improvement is a $4.2 trillion dollar industry globally. That equals a lot of marketing and messages driven at making you think you need to be a certain way, or do a certain thing.
Charlotte Lieberman, Harvard Business Review wrote “We are approaching the pursuit of work-life balance with the same obsessive (and oppressive) energy as we do our careers. Although the American Psychiatric Association reports that 39% of U.S. adults feel more anxious than they did a year ago”
Self-care is often associated with outer-body experiences…massages, fitness, facials…all things that have a “feel good” element and for the health of your body (and mind), are very important – but, on the topic of consistent, daily care; ‘outer-body’ self-care can also feel like just another thing, you have to do and when you get over-busy, it’s the first thing that goes out the window, right?
This feeling is perpetuated by advertising from the self-care industry, fitness photo’s on social media of how you are supposed to look and all those products you need, in order to be happy plus a plethora of apps and wrist watches to track your “self-care” progress…and that’s relaxing how?
The idea of what self-care is has become completely skewed!
This past week I fully stepped out of my safe and quiet space, that I purposely stepped into, the fall of 2014…and as things go, was immediately tossed a couple of tests (aka triggers).
I could see in my minds-eye, a circle of beings hovering above me with a questioning look on their faces asking; is she really ready, can we take her down, will she pass this test?
My ‘test’ was being tossed circumstances that triggered my most deeply dug self-sabotaging behavior of – “not enough” – I don’t know enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not educated enough – my usual.
I DID NOT BITE!
Okay, truth – I was moving in to take a huge chomp of that trigger. But here’s what happens when you A) allow yourself to slow your pace and learn what you need to learn B) strengthen your awareness muscles, so C) your triggers no longer become an obstacle to take you down, they become the path to learning and opportunity.
For most of my life, I harbored the belief that a powerful, successful woman was confident witty, smart, attractive, outgoing, involved, charismatic and she was liked, because she was able to do it all…for everyone!
I learned through the school of hard knocks that my belief, was not my belief at all.
If you too have held any of these beliefs, please know you are not alone. For women, especially if you were born before the late 70’s or even early 80’s, you have been indoctrinated into a patriarchal culture through modeling of behavior passed down through generations. Add to the mix how media has impressed upon women the importance of perfection—perfection with our personalities, with our looks, with how much we do…the side-effects of social conditioning, has been a rapid moving virus, for centuries infecting almost every woman.
My fatigue that came from ‘doing it all’ and trying to be the person I thought I should be, has taken me down an interesting road; one that fostered the Sacred Selfishness philosophy, followed by Alchemy of Feminine Leadership™ that led to discovering…Virago Women!
Post-store ownership, spring 2015, I was outside at a local restaurant sipping tea, enjoying the warm breeze, blue skies and great conversation with a good friend. She was asking me how I was doing with all the transition in my life and I answered with…
“I’m in the space between what was and what will be.”
As I spoke those words, a white feather fell from the sky, gently dancing its way under the umbrella and landing directly in front of me. We both gasped, nodded and said “well, if that isn’t a sign you’re exactly where you need to be!”
William Bridges, author of the book ‘Transitions, Making Sense of Life Changes’, says “Change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation or self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t take.
Calling all women who over-commit, over-schedule and have a to-do list a mile long!
When I took my year-long sabbatical – my year of no, the first few months were challenging. My sabbatical year wasn’t a year to be doing, it was a year to learn how ‘not to do’. Think that sounds wonderful? Let me tell you, it wasn’t.
Without adrenaline – my drug of choice, my mood plummeted, I felt worthless, useless and when the end of the day arrived and I had not accomplished my usual long list, I felt somehow that I had failed.
The Ashwood Recovery Center says, “…excessive stress is unhealthy, triggering both adrenaline and cortisol secretion. The more a person does such behaviors, the more s/he feels life is boring without the adrenaline hit, and thus is made the adrenaline junkie, seeking ever more and ever higher highs.”
A few months into my ‘Year of No’, I had these epiphanies…
#1: Women have a very skewed sense of how much they can accomplish in one day.
#2: Long to-do lists create anxiety, which ramps up adrenaline.
#3: Adrenaline is addictive (hence the ever-increasing dependency on caffeine).
Ask yourself these questions:
-Do you wake in the morning ticking off your to-do items before your head is off the pillow?
-Do you dread your day ahead?
-Do you wonder how you’re going to pull off ‘getting it all done’?
-And here’s the big one – on those rare occasions when you do find yourself with time on your hands, are you able to simple ‘be’ without agitation, without feeling guilty and without feeling bored? (more…)