Self Care is a Cover Up. It’s Self Acceptance that you actually need.
“Your own self-realization is the greatest service we can render the world.” — Ramana Maharshi
Self care is a term that’s bandied about — a buzz word, a label that is slapped on hot baths, candles, manicures, firing through some sun salutations, even the noble act of simply going for a walk.
These are all great things, don’t get me wrong.
Looking after yourself is of utmost importance. I’ve actually found it increasingly essential —
Navigating life’s challenges, whether it’s running your own business, working for your boss, caring for a parent, or just trying to get through school — it is all just a bit more manageable when you “treat yourself”. Or have a basic level of self care. You know?
Here’s the bit that gets me though.
The reason we need to care for ourselves — the reason why that is important — is that when you feel good about yourself, it gives you a confidence boost. It puts you in a frame of mind (or body) where you can take action, do the do, and be the person you want to be.
These positive feelings and hormone releases that come from looking after yourself actually enable you to cope at a basic level. To get by. And to keep going all the way to success.
We are far more likely to fail when we are down on ourselves. So we do the Self Care to fix it.
Doing this once a week, once a month, even once a day — none of this would ever be enough to counter all the harm that we do to ourselves, all on own.
No, the self flagellation that we humans have a real penchant for — we need something stronger for that.
It needs to be a daily practice. And by this I mean not something that you put on a list and do once a day, once a week or even once a year.
It needs to be a continual practice, every day, of looking after yourself. Of specifically not beating yourself up, talking yourself down, or doubting yourself.
But rather than do this, self care seems to have become our go-to, our remedy for hardship.
Something that you do to feel a little better about how hard you are working, or how hard life is. It is a tidbit, rather than a continuous practice of self compassion and self acceptance.
It’s almost like it’s OK to reject yourself 99% of the time, when you can make up for it by being nice to yourself for 1% of the time. By giving yourself a treat. And as is the way with treats, it might just exacerbate feelings of guilt, loneliness, disconnection and discontent.
I have been there, done that.
It doesn’t work.
Otherwise it would have by now, yes?
And that’s all coming from a yogi — I swear by daily rituals to keep me functioning, not to mention keep my business running.
But the personal development journey I have embarked on is like an onion — ohh that cliche is just too true. *Sigh.
So the further I travel along it, the more layers of self doubt, self contempt, and low self esteem I discovered. They were hiding in plain sight — on the outside they look like self sabotage, self abandon, indecision, procrastination, anxiety, depression, fear, getting stuck, paralysis by analysis.
The worst one? The habit of compiling lists of terrible character traits ;)
Even with the best intentions and the best masseuse that money can buy, there is no way in the world that a massage will fix all this.
(Side note. Even when I moved to Thailand and went for 2 massages a week, it actually seemed to put everything in hyperdrive.)
What I actually needed, what I argue that anyone needs, is self acceptance.
This starts with knowing yourself. Accepting all that crazy bad stuff you do or don’t do. That list of Crappy Qualities. The things that you do that you wish that you didn’t. And accepting the good bits too. Wow, now if that’s not a challenge.
“To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” Socrates
To put it more brazenly, ‘find out who you are and do it on purpose,’ uttered by one of the greats, Dolly Parton.
When you give yourself permission to be you, and you can accept who that person is — especially when you can do it all with an ounce of gratitude, all the other struggles start to melt away. It’s the truest path you can find, and it makes life a lot more bearable.
Practicing self acceptance then means that all the yoga, massages, spa treatments, cakes, candles and walks on the beach can be enjoyed to the absolute fullest — without a shred of guilt, doubt or fear that self care isn’t. actually. working.
It’s just that the (non) self acceptance piece will work against you until you have it down.
So if self care isn’t quite hitting the spot for you like they said it would, try self acceptance.
— I’m not saying it’s a quick path, but I am saying it’s worth your time and investment.