“If you a fly gal get your nails done
Get a pedicure, get your hair did…”
Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliot was talking about one kind of self care. Many ladies get their ‘hair did’ at least once a week. Pedicures perhaps less frequently but finger nails have to be done because they’re on show all the time. We haven’t even begun to talk about massages and facials. But is that the full length and breadth of self care?
What about regular checkups – our eyes, teeth and body? And all the other things that are being recommended – mammograms, pap smears, tests for diabetes etc? Are we exercising as we should, eating the right foods and getting enough rest?
Are these the things that sprung to mind when I asked the question: are you REALLY taking care of yourself?
An interesting shift occurred for me recently regarding self care. There were so many things that I viewed as ‘taking away’ from my time and not that they would make my own eventual experience and existence BETTER! I was feeling like I shouldn’t have to be doing certain things because I had that ‘sense of entitlement’ chip on my shoulder.
Then I began to examine self care a little more deeply. I realized that I needed to take care of myself in order to take care of everything else. I’ve been great for instance, at nourishing my mind but have been neglecting my body both in both eating choices and regular exercise.
In my journal I jotted down a few other descriptions of self care that came immediately to me:
Self care means making the best choices that support my peace and make me feel better about myself long term
Self care means discipline – doing what I NEED to do WHEN I plan to do it
Self care means making the very best use of my time
Self care means giving myself a reasonable time to complete tasks
Self care means being prepared
Self care means embracing change and allowing myself to be flexible
And finally –
Self care means keeping all agreements I make with myself.
Think about that last sentence.
How many times have we said we’re going to start exercising come Monday morning/afternoon (it’s almost always on a Monday) and then find reasons not to?
How many times do we say “well from tomorrow I am no longer going to eat as many chocolates/doughnuts/pancakes/waffles/M&Ms/whatever” and then tomorrow comes and we can’t believe that the doughnut just stuck to our fingers and wouldn’t let go?
How many times do we decide to fold laundry, do the dishes, complete the assignment, make the call and then put it off? William James says “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” Yet we do it all the time to the detriment of our own self care.
What I realized is that broken agreements steal our peace. In his book “The Four Agreements” Don Miguel Ruiz gives us what could very well be our code for life:
agreement 1 Be impeccable with your word – Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
agreement 2 Don’t take anything personally – Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
agreement 3 Don’t make assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
agreement 4 Always do your best – Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
These agreements are not easy to keep but just think what a big difference it would make in our own lives if we only said what we meant? That would clear up all the misunderstandings and all the ill feelings we feel when we tell half truths and outright lies including those we tell ourselves. I guess what we don’t realize is how much of our peace we steal by making and breaking promises to ourselves. So the next time you are about to make a promise – really think about what you are promising – think about what would happen to you if you break the promise – and opt for excellent self care – knowing that the choice you make serves your purpose and values well and preserves your ultimate peace!