We are a quick-fix species, we humans. We want ‘it’ – whatever ‘it’ is – NOW! The money, the lover, the job, the car, the child to behave, the partner to behave (oops!), the boss to quit micro-managing: the list goes on and on.
So too with self-care. Few of us think of what self-care really entails, so we grab whatever will make us feel better – NOW! Which is great, totally understandable, and works. Well, works short-term. That latte does calm you down (interesting paradoxical effect of caffeine), the ice cream brings comfort, the movie did distract you from your worries, and that new bling perked you right up. Temporarily. Because as soon as the ‘feel better’ wears off from the quick-fix, you’re back where you were. Mildly (or very) depressed, grumpy, low energy, anxious, your choice.
It doesn’t have to be this way! Self-care is best approached from the inside, not the outside. Especially when we are dealing with mental and emotional self-care*. This is why trying to deal with your emotional well-being with lattes and ice cream isn’t going to work. What will, is what was best expressed by the phrase painted on the back of a passing truck: “just love yourself.”
I kid you not. I was driving home one day when I happened to end up behind a truck with “just love yourself” painted on the back. I followed the truck for a bit, wanting to make sure I wasn’t imaging things. The truck driver pulled over to the side of the residential street we were on, thinking no doubt that I wanted to pass him. I didn’t. I drove up beside him, made the “roll down your window please” sign, and said to him, “Thank you!! I love your truck slogan!” I’m not sure he understood or heard what I said, he probably just thought “crazy lady” but that’s OK. It was a wonderful moment.
So what does “just love yourself” mean? In simple terms, it means to be patient with yourself, to accept that you are doing the best you can, with what you’ve got, from where you are. And to think the same of the others in your life. Because, you see, when you acknowledge that you (and others) are doing the best you can, given where you’re at, with the resources (inner and outer) that you have presently available to you, you free yourself from judgment and blame. That in turn frees you up to look for/explore/discover other resources, to consider other approaches, to look at the situation from a different perspective.
Ah, sweet relief. Now, about that latte . . .