Helping YOU help (love) YOURSELF….
How many times have you felt like c@#p, but you haven’t had the luxury of feeling sorry for yourself? How many times have you denied yourself the time and attention and tender-loving-care you so deserve but don’t have the time? How many times have you pushed yourself into oblivion because there’s food to cook, a child needs to be taken to a class, your presentation is due at work….and so on.
In Buddhism, when you practice “metta” meditation, you always begin with yourself. You say “May I be happy. May I be free from Anger, hatred, animosity, resentment, and ill will. May I experience real peace, real happiness, real love.”
After you have done this, THEN you can move on to saying the same for friends, family, and eventually strangers and all living creatures. It is important to calm your inner demons first, only then will you be in a mental state calm enough to help or take care of anyone else! We all need to prioritize OURSELVES.
Sounds selfish? Well, yeah!! Isn’t that what we have been conditioned for so long by our parents and their parents…and their parents? Well not wanting to sound sexist, but women have always drawn the shorter stick. We’ve been told umpteen times to look beyond yourself to be able to be a better wife, a better mother, a better person! I have met with so many women who come to me seeking help finding their identity which gets buried under all the roles that have been thrust upon us- and not by choice.
Stop neglecting yourself
Now it's time to be aware and reflect on our lives. I am not saying neglect your home or work. I am saying stop neglecting yourself. There is nothing called a ‘perfect wife’ or a ‘perfect mother’ or a ‘perfect employee’. You have to find what ‘perfect’ means to you and decide if you want to be it. It has to be your definition and not influenced by anyone else.
Why is it important to stop neglecting and prioritize yourself, you might ask?
Well, I want to ask you why it isn’t? Let me explain with an example – Do you get your car serviced every year? Do you ensure the brake and engine oils are replaced and replenished, and the mechanic does a thorough check of every little thing, checks the air pressure in the tires, does the wheel balance alignment? Now why do we do this every year, irrespective of the usage of the care? What do you think will happen if this is not done properly? Like, in this instance if the wheel balance alignment isn’t done correctly – the tires will bear the brunt of it and the ones with more pressure on them will wear off and cause the car to skid in high speeds and wet surfaces. This will cause an accident which can be fatal – hence we make sure we do it regularly.
You, too, are like that car. We all need some off time for ourselves to replenish and rejuvenate. At the same time, small everyday things can be done to prevent the emotional ‘wear and tear’. Whether it's having a coffee chat with your friends, or tending to your garden, planting your favorite flowers, playing with your pet, or simply just putting up your feet and doing NOTHING. Give yourself permissions to be OK with dishes lying in the sink, food not being ready in time (we can all have a pizza sometimes!), laundry baskets full, the house not being cleaned obsessively every day. It's necessary to Dis-connect from everything to Re-connect with ourselves. This not only helps us feel worthy it's a part of selfcare.
Some tips to help you find a way to selfcare-
Stop the internal chatter that is critical and negative. You believe what you ‘say’ to yourself. So if the voice says, ‘you are not a good parent’ you will definitely think of yourself as one. Now you have a choice to switch the voice to a more positive one mindfully.
Focus on what you can do and, in your influence, and don’t worry about things outside your control. You, anyways, can't do much about things, people, situations that’s outside your area of control.
Be aware of what you are feeling and address them. Shoving the discomforting feelings under the carpet isn’t helping you and, in fact, it is building up into a bigger mess for you to clean up.
Find time for yourself to just be… get help to have the house, kids, food etc be taken care of by someone and just use that time to focus on yourself doing things you like.
Be physically active – I cannot harp enough on how physical movement is necessary for us. Not only does it keep us fit, it also helps our brain release endorphins which are natural mood elevators. You need to do this, especially on days that are hard, because you need to uplift your mood even more then.
Spend quality time with your partner and get updates on each others’ feelings
Ask for help and accept it, if you feel you are not able to manage on your own. This could be getting help cooking or taking care of your child or even seeing a counsellor for your mental health.
Expand your tribe. Extend your support system and include people whom you could lean on for support in times of need and be the same for them too.
Remember, you have to be kind to yourself because you are worth it and you deserve it!