Self-care practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.
— Pema Chödrön, “Nothing to (Im)prove”
Most of us are too hard on ourselves. We question ourselves. We compare ourselves to others. We don’t feel deserving of our own kind attention. We compare ourselves to ourselves in the past. We chastise ourselves for not being the best that we can possibly be in any given moment. We apologize continually for having imperfections and making mistakes.
We tell ourselves that we are ‘bad’, ‘slow’, or ‘imperfect’. Self-recrimination, regret, resentment, remorse, and even self-hatred are all-too-common. We self-medicate with comfort foods, comfort activities or choices that may relieve inner tension or turmoil for a short time but don’t necessarily serve us or our health and well-being. In fact, we often then put ourselves down for the choices that we made.
We often feel guilty and conflicted when we take care of ourselves, falsely believing that self-care detracts from our care for others. We may ask ourselves, “Should I put myself or my family first?” “Should I put myself first or my partner (or friend or work) first?” In fact, we don’t need to struggle to choose between ourselves and others. Instead, we can quiet our mind, body and emotions with a self-care practice and clarity often arises naturally… revealing for us a path that incorporates caring for both ourselves and others. For example, we could choose to get some fresh air exercise during our lunch break instead of staying at our desk. We may feel guilty but then we could pause and reflect on the fact that research shows that mental health, productivity and sustainability improve with self-care breaks.