Author: Traci Ruble, MFT
Self love or self care is like a movement these days. It’s everywhere. Why the heck is it so hard? Aren’t we called the culture of self-absorbed
narcissists? We should be the best at
taking care of ourselves right? Beneath self
absorption is a very vulnerable longing for love with very individual obstacles
to receiving and taking it in.
Likely our self absorption is providing a kind of care that
isn’t care. Is self love looking outside to a guru or even
a therapist who will tell us what to do and how to take care? Maybe we can buy some flowers or a new pair
of pants and that is self care or that is the way to love ourselves? “I need a fabulous vacation and then I will
feel nurtured and cared for and replenished,” right? “I just need a lover and then I will feel
cared for” or “that chocolate” or “that glass of wine” or “three hours in front
of the TV to chill” and the list goes on.
Sometimes doing any one of these things is self care but without
checking in we can’t know. Imagine
giving someone who is thirsty a bowl of grain – a lovely gift, but it doesn’t
quench their thirst.
Our second big obstacle to loving and caring for ourselves
is our own past. For many the first
reaction to this “self love” thing is a kind of eye roll and beneath that a
lurking sense of shame or “hmmm the fact that I don’t love myself must mean
there is something wrong with me.” Or “I
have to earn love, I can’t just give it freely to myself” or just denial of our
vulnerable longing for care and love.
What other obstacles from our past must we trudge through? Maybe we want other people to care for us and
the idea – conscious or unconscious – of actually having to pay attention to
ourselves brings up big feelings because we don’t want to be responsible for
our well being - we want someone else to do it.
We want to go back to the pleasant memories of childhood when all our
needs were provided for. Alternatively, loving
ourselves puts us in direct touch with the pain, anger, grief, and blame for what
we never got in childhood and so we turn away from loving ourselves. Or, maybe quite simply, we have a bad habit -
we have been moving so fast for so long we have forgotten how to slow down
and notice and care for ourselves.
|Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, |
because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose,
and then where are you?
Self love and self care is the capacity to go inside and
feel who each of us is in the present without analyzing or judging, noticing
all of our experience and meeting discomfort with a kind word or thought and
meetinig joy with kind recognition and celebration. “Oh sweet heart, you feel left out. Let’s just feel it and breathe and not judge”
you say to yourself. Or “You did a great
job. You can be big and happy about
it. Good for you!” or “I want do that
differently next time. Shucks…I mucked
that up and I am still loveable.”
Self love and self care is a noticing what is happening
inside with deliberate attention, slowness and curiosity and asking “what do I
need right now and what would be good for me right now?” and listening…. and waiting… for the reply coming
from inside. If an obstacle comes in,
notice and see if you can feel its roots and offer compassion and wait like a
mother waits with her crying child. Self
love and self care is also about taking into consideration well being in a
larger context. Slowing down and asking,
“What do I stand for? What do I want to create in my lifetime? What are my priorities? What tends to get in my way?”, and then making
sure our present action is in line with what we intend. Along the way there is always discomfort in
larger and smaller doses and lovingly we can practice meeting each “ouch” with
care. Over and over we stop what we are
doing to give ourselves our full and kind attention forever. This is self care.
Labels: Self Care, Self Love, Traci Ruble