One of the hardest parts about getting self-care right is that it is so intricately tied to our personality and our core values.
As a high Merchant — based in love and truth and connections with people and connecting people with other people — my mind is always asking, “how can we be together? How can I serve my family? How can I give my kids a break? How can I make amazing memories that will last a lifetime?”
But for those of us who are the caregivers of the world, this is the toughest thing that we have to face. How do we also care for ourselves?
You have to put on your own oxygen mask first. No matter how much you want to, you can’t take care of everyone else. And honestly, if you aren’t tending to your own needs, you can’t take care of anyone else very well.
That’s really come to the forefront for me in the last few months with my own health journey and immune system. It’s not as active as I’d like it to be. I have to learn to care for my own needs — emotional and physical.
To be clear, this is not a matter of beating yourself up for not taking care of yourself.
Rather, it means looking for time and moments and rituals around self care — and taking that time for you. It means being able to differentiate between when you’re caring for yourself and when you’re caring for others so much that it hurts you.
I love the Rituals of Connection Card Deck from the Gottman Institute. In it is one eyebrow-raising card that everyone always brings up during The Art and Science of Love: refusing sex. Seems pretty counterintuitive for a Ritual of Connection, right? But developing a ritual around how to kindly and gently say no to your partner is so powerful!
The concept felt admittedly weird to me — until I started thinking about how damaging it can feel when you want to say no. But it’s okay to have a bit of a boundary there (full disclosure: I use the term “boundary” gently because sometimes boundaries become overused and overly rigid).
Hard as it may be sometimes, as the lover of my beloved, I have to be able to ask for what I need. And sometimes, I need a break. To be alone. To go away by myself once in a while. I have a personal ritual of going to an abbey by myself for spiritual renewal (oftentimes, I just sleep!) and visiting my favorite McMenamins in McMinnville. I love it so much! It’s a ritual I look forward to and that truly gives me rest.
And while you’re at it, building and practicing your rituals, don’t forget to periodically revisit your rituals. Make sure they’re still meeting your needs. None of this is set in stone, so if it doesn’t serve you where you are now, change it up!
Talk with your partner. Have open conversations with your family. Help them understand your needs.
Case in point: I’m a “yes” person because I love spending time with my grandkids. Who can say no to those darling little humans?! But my kids can’t trust my “yes” unless they can trust my “no” — and trust that I’ll say it when I need to. My family understands my need to say “no.” I have their respect. My ability to say “no” reminds them I’m not superhuman. I am a vulnerable, fragile human with an open heart — and needs of my own. And thankfully, I finally feel alright about that.