Stress is an ongoing thing for people no matter what month it is, but sometimes it feels more pressing than others. Apparently, April was just “stress awareness month”. Why April? Good question. I don’t know the answer, and I actually don’t care. But what I DO care about is the impact it can have on your health and your awareness is the first step. And yes, stress is a natural part of life.
As a way to create some outreach and support, last month I led a free call on stress relief/management and its impact on our daily health in ways that relate to everything from the stress on your cells from a toxic environment or too much junk food or the stress of an overly demanding boss. This is the perfect time to revisit this topic as it relates to that term you hear, “self care”.
What do you think of when you hear the word “selfish”? What about selfish versus self-centered or self-involved? Different things, wouldn’t you say? Here’s what I invite you to try, and it may seem silly, but try this. Read this (below) OUT LOUD (ok, I know some of you can’t do this, but at least pretend like you are saying it out loud— maybe even picture an audience if you want or wait and see if someone’s face pops up in your mind as you read it slowly). See what you feel like; see how it sits with you. It’s just an experiment. Give it a try:
“I am the selfish one. I don’t drop everything to take care of your immediate needs which derail me and keeps me from myself. I don’t feel badly for saying NO and claiming it, because holding true to healthy boundaries means I can say YES to other vital parts of myself and what I am meant to be doing. I listen to the messages of my intuition and let those messages guide me, because approval and outside influence aren’t always the key to truth. I realize the real need and impact for radical self care for the sake of bettering myself so that I CAN be of service to others. I see how “self care” can show up in many forms, both internally and externally, for myself. As “the selfish one”, I also allow and graciously receive the help and care of others. I place high value in my evolution, which means on all levels (mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically), and support others to do the same. I see how my “selfishness” only helps make things better all around because I am also giving you space and room to grow and breathe without me imposing or overstepping. I don’t need to “fix” you or everything; it’s not my job. I also don’t need to explain myself for everything; I can just be. When I don’t “take care” (however that means to me, even in the nature of my thoughts!), I get irritated, angry, tense, worn out, and STRESSED.”
Now. Did you try it? How did it make you feel to say all of that? Was it uncomfortable or make you think of ways you neglect or avoid yourself? Maybe you need to change a few words here or there to make it more personal. Does being “selfish” evoke a negative connotation for you, or can you see how it can actually be a really caring thing especially if you spend a lot of time caring for others? I have noticed lately the ways that some of my clients refer to self care as not deserving or not wanting to be judged for being selfish. I am trying to show you how “selfish” isn’t a bad thing! Self care and being selfish happens from moment to moment. We have more opportunities than we realize to be selfish in a great way. To “take care of ourselves” even in seemingly small ways— whether it’s grabbing an apple and some nuts at the last minute and having it with us for when we know later we are going to need it OR something like saying NO to an invitation that you usually say yes to because you think you “should". These things DO connect with how we manage stress. Listen to your gut— it will guide you, too. And as they say— progress not perfection.