Self Care, Self Love and Selfishness
You Cannot Pour from an Empty Cup
-Del Baldwin, January 3, 2021
I have always been into fitness and self care. But it was mostly surface. “Work out and eat right because you will look and feel better.” “Meditate and pray so you will get what you want.” This attitude wasn’t “bad”…BUT, I realized through deep discovery is that I was not giving self care the right meaning.
Self care is much deeper than just “feeling good” and “getting what you want.” Caring for yourself helps you live out every other part of your life to a level you never imagined; and results in you caring for your loved ones and even strangers more fully. Self care leads to self love. And self love is the key to loving others and living a happier, more fulfilled life.
So, what is considered self care? It is everything that you do for yourself that is good for your mind and body. Exercise, eating right, skincare, meditating, reading, fresh air, taking your vitamins, learning new things, socializing with people who lift you up, not berating yourself when you do something that goes against who you want to be, dancing, getting a massage, drinking more water, going to bed earlier, drinking less, flossing. The list goes on and on and on.
Self Love is Self Acceptance
I now believe that the ultimate act of self love is treating yourself like your best friend. Accepting your humanness and all that you are. And working from a place of accountability rather than shame. Getting to that place requires self care.
My entire life I gave myself “grades” in my head in every aspect of my life. Literally. I would give myself a grade for my mothering, my friendships, my work, etc. I was a judge of myself, not a friend. And then, I saw this quote
“Love is the Absence of Judgement”
Proceeding in this manner, as a judge, may have helped me achieve some of my goals, but it left me feeling inadequate, unloved, and incapable in the long run. I didn’t love myself. It also resulted in me performing only “for the grade” and not out of a genuine place. Grading and judging myself put me in a position of grading and judging others, too…constantly comparing myself against them. Comparison and judging myself and others left me feeling empty, disconnected and anxious. I even graded my self-care (“100% today because I ate well, worked out, flossed, got 8 hours sleep, etc”). How ironic is that? I was putting my self care into a construct that was stressing me out.
Self Care Begets Self Love & Self Acceptance
I am so pleased that through the years, I have had a gradual awakening to my new sense of self love through my self care habits. Rather than perform self care habits for the sake of the potential results, I now do them to fill my cup. To be my own friend. To be that person who I want to hang out with all the time. To encompass the upbeat, accepting, forgiving, compassionate, positive nature I seek in friends. NOT to “get 100%” on everything because that is actually NOT somebody I want to be friends with! Who wants to be friends with the “I do everything perfectly” person? Am I perfect or even close? Absolutely not! And, in the past, when I wasn’t, I would judge–even berate myself! Now, I laugh and enjoy the ride. There are many times when I have to talk to myself and forgive myself for things that I have done that are against this nature. There are many times that I have to talk to others and ask for forgiveness for acting against this nature towards them. But I actually believe now that the ultimate self care is becoming your own best friend. And this self care is the start of self love. Becoming somebody you want to hang out with…because face it…you’re stuck with yourself! You don’t have to be perfect to be your own best friend…your “other best friend“ certainly isn’t perfect.
Treating myself this way has allowed me to love and serve others at a higher frequency. I’m a better mother, a better partner, friend, teammate, a better coach. I don’t grade myself now, but if I did, ironically, those grades be much higher because my energy isn’t caught up in what I “haven’t done right.” I have released that negative energy and it has cleared the path for MORE. More energy, more abundance, more love for myself and others. Again, irony. My relationships were once based on comparison, based on judging. And it wasn’t because I came from a bad place… I wanted everybody to be the best them, just like I wanted myself to be the best me. I just had it all wrong . You’re not going to be any less by treating yourself well! And that’s what it’s about. It’s not about “looking and feeling your best”… that will happen naturally. It’s about being kind. It’s about caring. And that starts with yourself. Giving yourself grace, compassion, and caring for yourself.
This doesn’t mean that you should sit around and eat Doritos and watch TV “because you want to” all the time… But you wouldn’t be here reading this If that was your attitude. It’s not about making excuses for yourself. It’s about knowing you’re human, that you are unique and exceptional exactly the way you are. You can hold yourself accountable without shaming yourself.
How do you feel about yourself when you are by yourself?
When you practice self-care, you are treating yourself like a friend. You are loving yourself. When you are flexible and forgiving of yourself for not being perfect, you are being a good friend. You like being with yourself.
So, Why Do We Feel Self Care is “Selfish”?
As Brene Brown says “In a society that says ‘put yourself last’ self love and self acceptance are almost revolutionary.”
Think about that. Our society tells us we should not put ourselves first.
Many people struggle with the notion that self care feels selfish. We have jobs, we have children, spouses, pets, homes. Shouldn’t they all come first? Shouldn’t all our money, time, resources, to those “other” things?
“‘Selfish’ has always gotten a bad rap. You should do for you.”-Matthew McConaughey
It’s an old adage, how can we fill others’ cups if our own is empty? Let’s face it, sometimes it feels like we expect others to help us fill our own cups, and then we are frustrated and resentful when they don’t rise to the occasion. If, however, our cup is already filled because we have filled it OURSELVES, that need diminishes, and suddenly, your relationships and “duties” feel like less of a struggle.
So, NO, it is NOT selfish. It is the opposite. Allowing yourself time to care for yourself only benefits those around you! Fill YOUR cup. Nourish YOUR mind, body, soul….and suddenly, you are free and independently able to give more to others without needing them to do the same, even though they will also start filling yours more because you will attract it, you will act worthy of it, you will not be demanding and needy.
Fill your cup through self care, love yourself as a friend, spread the love to others. It’s really quite simple.
CALL TO ACTION:
Some of us are really good at this, some of us are still learning. I challenge you to think of ONE, just ONE, self care practice besides exercise that you are going to work on for the next 2 months. It doesn’t have to be something that takes a lot of time, it just has to be an intentional practice that you have been wanting to get into or get “back” into. It can be mental (practicing not judging) or physical (walk the dog every night). Maybe it’s something really small like taking your vitamins.
Now, write it down in your planner or your notes section of your phone or wherever you write shit down that you need to remember to do. Even set a reminder on your phone to pop up! With each self care practice you adopt, you are deepening your love for yourself and your abilities to give to others.
Ask my husband, I’m all about self care. My mother-in-law thinks I am selfish…so she is the judge and I am at peace with her assessment because I know that I receive my family each day with so much abundance of love and gratitude because I am not burned out. There is no more resentment. Because my cup is FULL, and I MYSELF have filled it and do not expect them to.
(Still, I am also going to do the challenge because my skin-care has gone to shit!)
Here are some other links for self care ideas: