The Importance of Self-Care

Self-care has somehow become a highly divisive and touchy topic for many people. I was sitting in an office when I heard two women who began to argue about this. Being nosy I pretended to continue to read my book while listening to a pro/con debate amongst a topic that I actually discuss with most of my clients. I wanted to hear how both sides viewed this topic, because rarely do I have a female client who is pro self-care. Male clients usually have the interest of learning how to pursue it, or already are; while female clients truly struggle with this concept.

First let me define what the concept of self-care is for those who are new to the topic. Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself; in popular definition it has however become defined more as the act of taking care of yourself before others—and this is the topic I want to discuss.

I’m sure now the light bulbs are going off on why it is harder for females to grasp and accept this belief—it’s the moms. Non-moms and single women do not struggle near as much with this concept as the moms or women who have someone (usually a family member) that they care for. As much as people try to defy any given gender role or belief the stereotypes still exist because they are mostly true. Women are nurturers by nature more often than not. The “motherly instinct” comes out as naturally as breathing. The fun fact here for me is, when a male client struggles with self-care, it has been single fathers. That need to tend to your child overrides all egotistic self-interest. However the irony rest in the fact that if you don’t take care of yourself first—you can’t take care of anyone the way you want or that they deserve.

I like to compare it to the oxygen mask on airplanes. If you have ever taken an airplane ride you will be familiar with the concept, if you have not allow me to explain. Before takeoff the flight attendants give a speech on the safety rules and regulations. One of these rules are should something cause the oxygen mask to drop and you have a child or dependent with you, put  your mask on first—if you do not you may not be able to put on theirs effectively killing you both. Now while this example is extreme it paints the shocking picture needed usually to make the client really hear the message.

When you decide to skip your session at the gym, ignore that hour of meditation, for-go the you time bath with a relaxing glass of wine, skip your eye appointment for theirs, or any activity that allows you to relax of take care of your health for the “sake” of your child or dependent you are doing them no favors. If you feel like you are, allow me to inform you that you are lying to yourself. Eventually continually avoiding out on these little here or there moments add up and the bill to pay for it will be large.

This concept is hard for many people to grasp as it is intangible, so allow me to provide you with a more tangible example of how small things add up. You buy a cup of that special mocha whipped coffee every day on the way to work, with tax it’s roughly $5 dollars. This is fine because it is a daily charge and you only do it on the weekdays for the most part. You work hard for your money and should be able to spend it on things like this. Now life hits, you have a HDHP (high deductible health plan) since they don’t take money out of your check and you like seeing more money in that bank account. Plus you can save that $100 dollar a month instead. Now you are in the hospital and owe your $1,500 deductible. Of course something happened each month and you would save that $100 you were supposed to next month. Remember that daily coffee? If you had made your own at home you would have paid for $1,300 dollars of this deductible ($5 dollars x 5 days a week x 52 weeks a year) now you only have to charge or pull from savings $200 which is easier. See how quickly something so little adds up? This exact principle adds to your health. Life inevitably happens. If you take care of yourself all along, you will be well prepared for the major event.

Most likely, you are wondering how this applies to not taking the best care of my kid. Well here is your answer. You decided you didn’t need to go the gym anymore so your kid can do both soccer and swim lessons, and you’re patting yourself on the back for being such a giving and good parent. After all you can do a Beach Body work out at home right? Well each day you are going to do it tomorrow—you’re too tired at first, then dinner needs to get made, then your little Johnny needs help with homework. To top it off you kept eating like you were going to the gym (it is habit by now). Then you get a call from your doctor a week after your yearly physical and find yourself at your doctors discussing the negative results. Your blood came back, your diabetic, have hypertension, and dangerously high cholesterol. The insulin you need isn’t covered by insurance and between that and the pills for cholesterol and hypertension you are looking at a new monthly payment equivalent to a small car. Guess what has to go—little Johnny’s soccer and swim lessons. So now instead of being able to participate and excel in just one activity he gets to participate in neither. Their social and leadership skills developed at such activities are no longer being acquired and worked on. The pride he feels at a win is no longer there; instead there is a resentment at you (as your scoffing go yeah right—keep in mind I am giving you a real life example—yup OH SHIT!)

A harsh lesson we all learn over and over is that life doesn’t pause the hard moments because we need it to. There is a reason we have the saying “when it rains it pours”. When you have a monsoon season, it helps to have stocked up little by little and it is easier to weather. So remember the next time you think you are being a rock star by not being “selfish” re-align your thinking. If you really want to be able to take care of others and provide the best possible, be a little “selfish” and participate in some self-care.

As always feel free to email me any questions or topics you would like to see discussed!

The Most Important Relationship You Will Ever Have:

Many people in today’s world are focused on every possible relationship except for the one that matters the most, the relationship they have with themselves. They are constantly asking themselves why don’t I have a girlfriend or why don’t I have a boyfriend? Why is my husband shying away from me? Is my wife having an affair? How do I get a girlfriend? How do I get a sugar daddy? Why have I not attracted the right person into my life?

I have been asked all these questions and more. My response has been and will continue to be the same. Look into the mirror and tell me what you see. Never has the response been genuinely positive. Not once have I ever heard, “someone I am happy with”.

Life as you interpret it will remain stagnant or move in uncomfortable and incorrect directions as long as you are not happy with you. If you cannot be happy with you, how can you expect someone else to be?

Most people do not even understand where they went wrong to the point they cannot happily answer that question, or why they are so unhappy with themselves. They tend to focus on the physical first, “well I got fat or I don’t like my eyes, or my smile is crooked”. Nope, I guarantee you there are plenty of Hollywood version of gorgeous people out there who will and have given me the same exact answers. Next they turn to the inward reflection, “I have no self-confidence, I’m not good enough, I use humor as a shield, I lie to those I love, I am not good enough” and now we are getting somewhere.

Everyone’s inner reflection is different. However until that inner reflection is a person that shines through and makes you smile, you will struggle in all other relationships; this is a harsh fact of life. Our relationship with our-self is ever evolving and needs constant work just as any relationship does. This relationship also happens to be one of the most complicated you will ever have to deal with.

I am sure now you are wondering how do I know where to start, or else you might even be thinking I am perfectly happy with myself. If so, can you spend an hour comfortably alone with yourself? No music, no television, no napping, and no distractions. Just yourself in a room comfortable with your own thoughts and meditations? Nine out of ten people will fail to be able to do so, and that is because they are not comfortable with themselves. Once again if you are not, how can someone else be?

If you want to improve the relationship you hold with yourself, the first thing you must realize is that this relationship is honestly one of the most complicated you will ever have; it is at the minimum a combination of psychological and physical; if you’re spiritual, there is a spiritual aspect as well.

People both consciously and subconsciously hold themselves to a higher standard than they hold anyone else to. This complicates the fuck out of the self-relationship.

To clarify this I want you to think about the act or task of forgiveness. How many times and people have you forgiven, for anything? Have you forgiven someone who lied? Someone who wronged you? Now think about yourself. Have you forgiven yourself for wronging others? Lying to someone you love? Let’s be bluntly honest here, we have all messed up in our past, no one is innocent of harming others through words or actions, and if you think  you are, you are lying to yourself.

Most likely by now you either realizing you are still holding onto a lot of resentment and/or you are tying those indiscretions to moments of guilt or regret. Living with that emotional block or trauma prevents you from being able to heal your relationship within.

When you hold onto hatred and anger, they build inside you, and begin to form or morph your personality. Think of it in simple medical terms of cancer, cancerous cells multiply while destroying good cells. These negative emotions impact you in a similar manner. They can prevent you from developing healthy friendships and relationships.

Everyone in life has been wronged, and it does you no good stewing over the past. Whoever wronged or hurt you is probably long over it, does not even know they did it, or simply does not care, why should you? You need to learn from the hurtful lesson, and then move past it. If you fall down from tripping on your shoe lace while walking do you stay down, or do you tie your shoes and move on? Granted a simple analogy but true all the same.

Now for the much more difficult part, forgiving yourself. Like I mentioned earlier, no one here is innocent or an angel by any means. No matter where you are at in your relationship with whom you hurt, if it will help you, you can apologize to them and ask for forgiveness (keep in mind they do not have to forgive you, it is not your job to make them, this is for them to work on), if this is not an option or you are not comfortable with this you will have to work on forgiving yourself alone. This is much easier said than done, but is completely doable. The best steps to achieving this are figuring out two major things, one what it is that you did, and secondly why you did it.

Let us take a medium-easy example here. Say you cheated, why did you cheat. Maybe you discover it was because you were embarrassed or ashamed to ask for something specific in the bedroom, such as a role play fantasy from your significant other and strayed into easy to find territory. While it is vital that you forgive yourself for the act, it is just as important that you tackle that shame or insecurity you feel for something you desired sexually. You need to learn to accept yourself for all of your primal desires and realize there is no shame in that.

Once you can accept yourself you will feel a metaphorical weight lift from your shoulders. You may even notice your physical health beginning to improve, as the impact of stress has been lifted. The little stresses such as this that we may not think about regularly pile on quickly. As you release yourself from them, the impact to your life will be tremendous. You will also begin to see your other relationships rather platonic or romantic alter. You might notice some people treating you better, or trying to bring you back down. You will realize you deserve better and can begin to recognize and cut out toxic ties from your life, and accept healthy ones that you have avoided in.

Remember that the relationship you hold with yourself is always the most important. If you are not taking care of yourself both emotionally and physically you are unable to take care of those you love. There are appropriate times to be selfish, and as you can begin to recognize and tend to these times you will see a huge life shift and improvement.