Are You Falling for This Self-Care Myth?

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This post is part of The Declaration of You's BlogLovin' Tour, which I'm thrilled to participate in alongside over 100 other creative bloggers. The Declaration of You will be published by North Light Craft Books this summer, with readers getting all the permission they've craved to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do! Learn more -- and join us! -- by clicking here.Among the many barriers I have experienced to self-care, the two biggest were time and money (or, more accurately, lack of time and money).I felt trapped. I recognised that I desperately needed self-care - some form of re-connecting with and grounding myself. Yet, at the same time, I believed that I didn't have the kind of lifestyle that afforded the luxury of self-care. I didn't have any spare cash for beauty treatments, I rarely took time off just for the sake of it (and I felt guilty even at the thought of doing so)....And then there was the emotional baggage that came with being cash and time poor: I blended my financial worth with my feelings of self-worth, and consequently ended up feeling like perhaps I didn't really deserve self-care after all, that I hadn't worked hard enough or earned enough to justify taking time off and 'treating' myself.I had well and truly fallen for the ultimate self-care myth.It is a pervasive, influential, and misguided notion in our society that self-care revolves around external activities and actions (going to a spa, buying a new mud mask, etc.).According to popular belief, the equation goes:Self-care = external factors influencing our internal feelings.This is a myth.

 80-90% of self-care is an inside job.

This means that most of our self-care revolves around our internal processes. It’s about how we interact with ourselves, how we deal with our internal conflicts, how we process information from external circumstances, and how our history affects the way we go about this.When we try to ‘do’ self-care by flitting from external activity to external activity, we’re neglecting to pay attention to the needs underneath and, most importantly set an intention for what we want to get out of our self-care.

Self-care is about knowing which needs we want to meet, how we want to feel, and seeking out nourishing and nurturing activities that will meet those needs and generate those feelings.

As much as we might hear about the vegan meditation yoga countryside retreats (and as great as they might sound), it’s not the vegan meditation yoga countryside retreat that we specifically need right now. What we’re yearning for when we desire something like that are the feelings it creates in us.With this in mind, I feel it’s important to distinguish between self-care and self-indulgence, or pampering:Self-care is about starting with an unmet need or desired feeling.Self-indulgence is more about feeling good.Many activities that conventionally file under the label ‘self-care’ (spa days, massages - except to relieve aches, pains and tension - manicures, make-overs, and so on) are actually self-indulgence. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with self-indulgence (who doesn’t like to feel good?), but it’s not necessarily going to help us meet our unmet needs.In this way, self-indulgence is a lot like using coping strategies in place of self-care, and often involves meeting one or more of our needs at the expense of one or more of our other needs.

True self-care is about identifying and and taking steps to meet our needs without compromising other needs.

True, genuine and authentic self-care has nothing to do with the number of hours in a day or our net financial worth. Self-care is about our relationship with ourselves: the amount of money in our bank accounts or the amount of time in our weekly schedule has nothing to do with our levels of self-care.That means that wherever you are in your life, there are lots of ways you can ‘do’ self-care that don’t require massive amounts of time or money. What's more important is digging deep and setting the intention for your self-care.For self-care with maximum effectiveness that impacts you right where you need it, ask yourself:What do I want to get out of my self-care? (In other words, what is my intention?)How do I want to feel having engaged in this self-care practice?Stepping back to consider these two questions before launching into any self-care activity will take your self-care routine to a whole new level.  Photo Credit: © 2006-2013 Pink Sherbet Photography via Compfight cc