Let's Talk About Self-Care
If you’ve found your way to this article, I can assure you of one thing: you care.
You care about people, the world, the environment.
You want to make an impact - whether through conscious consumerism, social entrepreneurship, activism, or simply by fostering better conversations within your personal circles. You want to do your beautiful, fantastic part to make the world a better place.
It’s easy for people like us, people who care so deeply, to get so caught up in changing the world and helping others that we neglect the most important thing we need to actually make a difference: our selves.
People like us, we tend to equate words like “self-care” and “self-love” with “selfishness.” But this simply isn’t true. I learned that the hard way…
A Lack of Self Love is Not Sustainable
I want to sum up the past couple decades of my life for you because I think there’s a good chance you’ll be able to relate:
From a young age, I believed that everything was my responsibility, from keeping my family alive to solving world hunger. It’s crazy and illogical, I know, but circumstances set that belief into my head as a girl and it was cemented as I grew. I’m also an empath, so I feel everyone else’s emotions and I have an unhealthy tendency to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. I, like you, am passionate about solving not only the problems of my friends and family, but also the huge world issues. I would give away all of my time and energy when I wasn’t working or going to school to people and causes. I never said no. I stressed out about the fact that I couldn’t do more, faster to fix all the issues in front of me and on the news.
Needless to say, years and years of holding onto and acting according to this belief led to some serious burnout. Headaches, insomnia, digestive issues, uncontrollable stress and anxiety, fatigue, and finally: chronic pain (at the ripe old age of 25!). On top of that, I found it increasingly difficult to handle relationships or life’s daily stressors. It seemed that in trying to save the world, I was mentally and physically destroying myself.
Experiencing the physical manifestation of this belief was a red flag for me. I finally realized: I simply could not make a positive impact on the world and help the people around me if I was not a happy, healthy human. Trying to make the world better without really and truly loving and caring for myself is the opposite of sustainability.
Sounds pretty logical, right?! But for those of us who are world changers and impact makers, it’s SO much easier said than done. That’s why we have to really dig deep into this issue.
Going Beyond #SelfCareSundays
Self love and care is about more than just taking a timeout for a relaxing bubble bath (although that’s part of it). For many of us, however, we have to be careful not to fool ourselves into thinking this will keep us from burning out. Taking a vacation without dealing with the root issue is like taking an ibuprofen for a headache caused by a brain tumor. It might work for a couple hours, but the real problem is going to rear its ugly head again soon enough.
We must go further by asking the question: ‘How did I get here in the first place?’
When dealing with true burnout, the answer is never simple. Because there is always a reason behind the reason that we’ve worked ourselves into the ground (or are in danger of doing so).
Maybe you, like me, believe (even subconsciously) that saving the world is up to you.
Maybe you have survivor’s guilt.
Maybe you feel obligated because you’re a white, middle-class American.
Maybe somewhere along the line a parent, teacher, friend, or church leader led you to believe that you’re responsible for saving someone else.
Reasons such as these often get mixed up with our good intentions, passions, and sincere desire to make a positive impact - and they can be extremely damaging if we’re not careful.
You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup
Self love is about more than just taking a walk or having a glass of wine at the end of the day. It’s about an entire mindset, a perspective, a posture, a general way of viewing yourself and the world around you.
It’s about holding fiercely to the truth that you are an incredibly powerful force to change the world, but that you can only give what you have. You cannot pour from an empty cup. And the only person responsible for making sure that cup is filled with unconditional love, patience and grace is you!
You are not responsible for saving someone else or for solving the problems of the world. You ARE responsible for taking care of yourself and then letting all of that love, inspiration, and energy overflow to others… and THAT is how you will change the world.