Self-Care: Selfish or Something Else?
A bundle of perpetual motion – that’s my newest granddaughter. At five months old, she’s determined to conquer life sooner rather than later! She has little use for sleep – who knows what she might miss out on while recharging? And IF she must sleep, she wants to enjoy it in the arms of Mom. She’s not yet figured out how delightful life can be with sleep or how sleeping on her own would do great things for her and even greater things for her mom! Babies aren’t much for self-care! Sadly, the majority of adults I meet aren’t so hot at self-care either.
What is self-care?
It’s about taking care of yourself, so you that you are able to care for others. It is preventative… something you do before stress and burn out settles in. It’s about knowing what you need and making it a priority to consistently make space for it in your life.
Self-care is something that evolves and changes on a daily basis. That means you have to stay in touch with yourself so that you are aware of what you need; not what you need from others, but what you need from yourself!
While it does take time, self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. In many ways it’s FREE! Getting the rest you need, giving yourself permission to connect with a friend, exercising, taking a walk, or maybe doing an exercise video on You Tube – there are thousands of them! Or perhaps listening to music, journaling, or creating – is what nourishes YOU!
Logically speaking, self-care makes perfect sense, but did you know that it’s actually a means of walking out who God created you to be? It’s true! God has created each of us to reflect Him in a particular way, including being:
Have you identified who God’s created you to be?
For me, I am to reflect God by being LOVING. That’s something I can only do with His help. And in order to be truly loving to others, I must fully receive the love God has for me and be willing to be love myself! I can’t give away what I am not willing to give to myself. That translates into self-care.
For you, it might be different. Perhaps God created you to be authentic. In that case, you too must fully receive God’s love, and interact with yourself in a completely authentic way. Or maybe God created you to be generous. How are you extending generosity to yourself?
In previous posts I’ve shared many examples of how your Fear Monster messes with you. It’s something I’ve explored personally, in depth. I know full well that focusing on who God created me to be (LOVING) is the key to overcoming my Fear Monster. The funny thing is that it’s only been recently that I’ve realized how my Fear Monster was preventing me from caring for myself. It’s not as if I don’t practice any self-care; I regularly exercise, journal, spend time with God, and engage in activities that make my heart happy. I even make a concerted effort to eat well and get the sleep I need. However, there are still choices I make that take an unnecessary toll on me in order to matter more to others.
The Trouble with Fear
Sadly, whenever you operate out of fear – attempting to matter, feel like enough, prove you are competent – you experience the very fear you were attempting to avoid. The truth is that if I’m not LOVING myself, it limits my ability to love others well, keeping my Fear Monster alive and well and messing with me. That’s a huge discovery!
Your Fear Monster will lure you into focusing inward in an unhealthy way like worrying about mattering or measuring up, or being enough. But when you are operating out of who God created you to be, your focus will be outward – how you can be LOVING (or Authentic, Beautiful, Generous, etc.) to yourself and others.
Your Fear Monster will keep you from practicing self-care, making you think it’s selfish or that somehow by investing or sacrificing yourself to give LOVE (or compassion, trust, service…) you will somehow matter more or be enough or be more competent. That’s a lie!
When you give LOVE (authenticity, focus, accountability, etc.) to yourself it enhances your ability to love others because you are operating from a filled up place rather than from a depleted place.
Now that I’ve tapped into this realization, I’ve recognized how pervasive it can be. And this new awareness has allowed me to make choices that enable me to LOVE me so that I can more effectively operate in LOVING ways towards others. And keep my Fear Monster at bay!
Got that depleted feeling?
That depleted feeling that you get sometimes is a hint that perhaps you might be in need of some self-care! Here are some indicators that, like me, you might be letting your Fear Monster take over and keep you from being who God created you to be for YOU:
- Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, moody, or exhausted
- Skipping sleep, regular meals, exercise, or other “healthy habits”
- Allowing zero time for creativity, fun, or “unproductive” activities
- Comparing, judging, or being critical of yourself
- Settling in your work or relationships
- Avoiding activities you previously enjoyed
- Neglecting what’s important
- Not wanting to get out of bed
- Lacking patience
- Keeping your life tiny – not living up to your full potential
- Being anxious or meditating on negative things
- Overextending yourself
- Losing your identity, desire, and/or direction
- Unsatisfied with your accomplishments
Self-care is a combination of activities & attitudes that contribute to your well-being, and make it possible for you to be whoever God created you to be, in a way that benefits others. After all, as an adult, self-care is your responsibility.