Becoming an adult has proven to be a challenge for me to say the least.
My [significant] quarter-life crisis came at the cost of a few relationships, several relocations and a successful career.
I’ve come to find that one of the most beautiful aspects of maturing is the freedom that comes with self-awareness. With that self-exploration process, I have also often struggled with walking the line between selfishness and self-care.
It’s a theme I see with a lot of the people in my life. Decisions are made based on an inability to separate those two very different concepts.
As a woman, I find it especially challenging because we are hard-wired to nurture and care for others. Too many times I have found myself feeling utterly depleted because the guilt I felt for not appeasing others’ expectations took precedent over my own wants and needs. However, I have learned how unsustainable that is. I have concluded that in order to be fully present and engaged in my relationships with others, self-care must be a top priority.
There is a stark difference between being selfish and self-care. To have a healthy, well-balanced, life it is not only okay, but it’s necessary to make yourself a priority. And you don’t have to feel guilty for doing so.
Of course, there is also an art to balancing the desire to go inwards without neglecting your relationships and responsibilities.
It’s my belief that it is of utmost importance to get to a place of self-awareness and fully live in your truth—whatever that might look like for you. Something beautiful begins to happen as this process unfolds. In living in an unapologetic, fully-present manner, we will inevitably effect those around us in a positive way. It is not until we are living wholly in our own truth that we can give others the version of ourselves that they deserve.
The journey might be one that requires going within for a time period and being focused on self-exploration. Although it may seem from an outsider’s perspective that it is an act of “selfishness” if your intention is to better yourself to in turn better engage in the world around you, it is not self-serving. There may be relationship casualties, but I’ve found that those who are important to you will understand and support you.
Here are some tips to finding peace with self-care:
1. Commit to making self-care a priority
Recognizing that there is a work to be done and that it is a top priority will set you up to keep it one. Write down an affirmation or mantra that you can refer back to when you feel like your commitment is waning.
2. Communicate to those around you
Explain how you are feeling and why it is so important to you. This will do two things: 1. Keep you more accountable and 2. Help others understand your motives and not take it personally.
3. Still know when to put others first
Self-care doesn’t mean neglecting your relationships. It requires a lot of work but prioritizing is key. Is a big event happening in a friend’s life? Take time to listen or engage with them.
4. Know your boundaries well and be assertive about them
This is arguably the most difficult yet important part of self-care. It requires closely listening to and trusting your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, do not compromise your boundaries to appease someone else or because you’re feeling guilty. You’re not serving yourself or anyone else by doing so!
5. Make a list of the things that make you feel the best
What is it that makes you feel your best physically, emotionally and spiritually? For me, I like to keep nutrition, meditation, and yoga (and an occasional bottle of Malbec and bubble baths) as a priority.
5. Set goals
How will you measure your progress? Both short-term and long-term goals are so important. However, I’ve found it is best to also decide which of these goals are non-negotiable and which are more flexible. Life happens and goals may change. Stay focused but also be flexible.
6. Be easy on yourself!
Last but not least, life is a process and we are all human. Any feelings that come up in the self-exploration process are there to teach us something. Why am I feeling this way? What triggered it? Observe it and let it go.
“Self-care is not about self indulgence, it’s about self-preservation.” ~ Audre Lorde
Author: Allyson Schurtz
Editor: Caroline Beaton
Image: Max Charping/Flickr