I’ve got my roots down down down deep....
So last week we talked about the importance of developing root systems, and how the basis of self awareness and compassion can sprout up compassion for others.
Today I want to dig a little deeper into exactly HOW to develop self awareness and self compassion. Sometimes, we feel like we are running on empty. Sometimes we feel strung out and isolated. Sometimes we feel… Worthless.
But those feelings, are just feelings. They aren’t facts.
Self care is a buzzword right now. You see it associated with things like shopping and bubble baths.
But I’m going to let you in on a secret. Self care isn’t always or even usually glamorous.
Self care means choosing to prioritize YOUR NEEDS and INTEGRITY over the comfort and wishes of others.
Take a beat and think about that. Self care means choosing to speak up and assert your NEEDS, and what you BELIEVE, down deep, over what other people are just used to.
Many times we are socialized as women to take care of other people first. That we are here for them. In religious circles sometimes there’s another layer placed that we are unholy if we prioritize ourselves.
None of this is truth. I have given full forty five minute talks on why our worthiness matters, and even how acting out of our worthiness is a way to commune with our Creator, but that’s coming another day.
For now, I want you to sit down and really think about how often you prioritize the things you really need over the things that other people close to you really want. Do you ever choose yourself?
We teach people how to treat us. We teach them that we will always prioritize them. We teach them what we believe about ourselves and our worth too. What are you teaching the people around you? Do they respect your boundaries?
These are the first steps towards developing true boundaries rooted in self care.
Choosing ourselves whenever possible gently and gradually teaches us that we matter.
Affirmations and mantras can be incredibly helpful. Last week on Woman Up Wednesday I talked about one of my all time favorite women that I follow; Erin Brown. She makes affirmation cards, which are some of the best tactile tools I have found for drilling into the best mantras for me specifically on any given day.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a deep breath on a hectic Monday and repeated to myself from one of her cards “I can let my best be enough.”
Journaling can be another great way to get to know ourselves, and develop self awareness. It also gives a record of where we’ve been which is pretty awesome. Prompt journaling, which is just journaling in response to specific prompts can be helpful if you feel like you don’t know what to say. I created a resource of prompt questions that you may find helpful here:
Last week I saw someone quip on instagram that self care is actually more like self parenting than having the “treat yourself” mentality. I identify with this. So often self care is also doing things that just need to be done, like paying the bills, or cooking a decent meal. It isn’t shoulding, but it is taking into consideration how to care for our needs, not just our wants.
Ultimately, what self care tools we use are so individual.
For some moms I know, it means setting a timer for their kids to leave them alone, and having an undisturbed cup of tea or coffee.
Boring self care can look like taking our meds as prescribed.
It can look like taking care of a corner our space, when we don’t feel like we have the energy.
It can look like reaching out and asking for help, when our ego and fear of rejection scream “NO”
It can look like just saying "no".
To develop strong root systems that can support us in our lives, whatever way we decide to branch out, our self care needs to be built on a deep understanding of our personal identity and autonomy.
Self care isn’t a magic charm. Once upon a time, I was in such a bad depression that I was just trying to do all the “self care” things I could think of to tread water. Spoiler alert: It didn’t work.
Friends, we have to do the excavation first. We have to be willing to evaluate everything in our lives, and consider why we do what we do, and if that really aligns with who we are and who we want to be. Those two things don’t always line up, (who we are and who we want to be) but where we find that gap we find our capacity for growth.
Nancy Levin says to “Honor the space between no longer and not yet” and I have always loved that.
It means we can visualize, but we’re still figuring out the path and that’s ok. In fact, that’s the story of most of our lives, and it’s really a glorious one.
In January I’m hosting a patriarchy detox, where we are going to dig deep into our belief systems and mindsets.
I know Patriarchy can sound like a big scary word. I’m hosting this because digging through what stories and paths I lived out of society’s plan for me as a woman was both necessary and isolating. I wish I had had someone guiding me through that. I was so blessed to find a group of women online, unofficially walking that path but finding them took a lot of energy.
I want to make it official. I want you to have the opportunity to engage in communal healing and unleash your identity as we claim 2019 in power and boldness. The Patriarchy Detox is a five day challenge that starts January 7th. You’ll get a daily email with an awkward video from me, as well as the option to read a transcript so you can absorb the information whichever way works best for you. Then, you’ll have a prompt of a photo and caption to post on Instagram, (I will include a stock photo that you can use if you don’t have something that you feel goes with the prompt as well.)
I’m calling it a detox, because January is when the diet marketing really hypes up. “New year new you” (when the you you’ve always been is totally fantastic already.) The whole “detox” trend makes you feel like you’re dirty and need something to clean out your system, when we have organs like our liver that are designed to do that constantly.
But here’s the thing, we do have harmful mindsets and belief patterns that hold us back, and what if we could shed some of those? How would our new year look different?
We talk about the plant analogy here a lot (at least on Mondays) and this is like preparing your site for a garden. Flowers don't grow very well if we just try to stick them in the middle of our lawns, do they? We need to prepare the site, dig out the rocks, whatever the previous owners buried in the yard, and add organic materials to nurture them. We have to do the same thing with our mindset. Self care, self love, affirmation, and compassion don't grow well in the middle of what's always been there. We need to get ready to receive them.
Megan is a writer and creator from Wallingford, CT. She is passionate about empowering women to step into the full power and identity they were created to embrace and claim.