The demands of self-care can so easily become one more expectation on your plate. And then you start to resent the acts of self-care altogether. Sounds familiar, right? And before you know it, your inner Judge Judy is criticizing you even more because you failed, yet again, to succeed in your self-care attempts. Ohhhhh, it’s such an exhausting cycle!
In college, I often daydreamed about my life as a future adult. And it always included this one particular scenario: spending weekend mornings reading the newspaper next to my husband while sipping on coffee. But here’s the kicker: I’ve never been a coffee drinker, I ended up with a wife, and rarely has the newspaper been the way I access my news!!
Here’s another thing I’ve loved to daydream about for as long as I can remember: climbing into my bed early in the evening to spend time reading, journaling, meditating, or praying. But you know what? That’s not how it turned out for a long time! Why? Because I’d find other things to do. Sometimes I’d get sucked into a tv show my wife was watching. Or I’d easily find more work that needed to be done. Or when I finished that, I’d open social media for a ‘quick’ scroll, and we all know how that goes!
When I lived in Australia in my early thirties, there was a running joke with my beloved family with whom I lived. In the later evenings, I stood behind the couch while they watched tv. Yes, I watched it, too, but I never sat down! They always laughed and encouraged me to sit, but I almost always refused. Why? Because if I sat down, it meant I was concretely deciding not to have my time upstairs by myself, which is something that I always craved.
For the first 40 years of my life, doing and accomplishing was my absolute default mode. I’ll bet many of you are intimately familiar with this mode, too, and it often runs your life. And there’s something strange that happens when we’re in the default mode of doing and accomplishing. We more easily lose touch with ourselves.
I bet you can notice this even if you’ve never thought about it before. The faster you try to meet all the expectations of you and check off all the boxes in life, the more it feels necessary to disregard your own needs. In fact, you probably don’t even realize you’re doing it because it simply feels like there’s no room for your needs and it’s clear no one else is making room for them, either!
Do you know what else happens when we throw ourselves into the busy doing and accomplishing mode and put everyone else’s needs before our own? Our bodies start to communicate with us. And what starts as a whisper soon becomes a yell.
On the surface, it simply looks like the body is struggling due to your increased stress. It can even feel like your body is betraying you as your health declines in any number of ways. That was certainly my experience when I navigated a chronic illness in my 20’s and again in my early 40’s. And then you search for how to fix your body that feels increasingly broken.
But we ALL know what it feels like to discover yet another thing in our lives that needs to be fixed, right? It’s damn exhausting! And it can make you feel like a relentless personal improvement project.
You start out by realizing that you are once again SO busy and SO stressed and you make that decision for the millionth time to do better with your self-care. You throw yourself into it. And maybe you pull it off successfully for a week. Or maybe two.
But then the demands of self-care become one more expectation on your plate. And you start to resent the acts of self-care altogether. Sounds familiar, right? And before you know it, you’re once again drowning in your busyness and stress, but now your inner Judge Judy is criticizing you even more because you failed, yet again, to succeed in your self-care attempts. Ohhhhh, it’s such an exhausting cycle, isn’t it?
What if I told you there’s an easier way to shift some of those self-care struggles? What if it doesn’t require that you become a relentless personal improvement project, working hard to make the changes happen, but instead invites you to come home to yourself for micro-moments at a time?
It turns out this is true! And my clients come to agree when they play with this new approach and find it removes their inner battle to master their self-care gig.
So tell me: what’s an area in your life in which self-care feels impossible? Are you ready to put down the relentless guilt about not practicing self-care well enough and try it a different way? I sure hope so because you’re in for a real treat!
Stay tuned for PART 2 of How to Lower the Bar and Finally Succeed in Self-Care (out on Tuesday, 5/11), when I’ll begin to break this approach down into easy, bite-sized steps. ❤️
P.S. Know a loved one or friend who is looking for relief in THIS moment? Share my free MICRO-MOMENT RESET with them so they can move into relief, feel more ease, and find more clarity without having to work so hard to make it all happen.
P.S.S. If you’ve been enjoying my weekly blogs and are itching for more daily inspiration, follow me on Facebook (Emily Colwell), Instagram (dr.emily_colwell), and Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh1EqJz3wcFJfICkN60krnQ) . I post frequently and humor leaks into most of my posts!
Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND
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