“Until you value yourself you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” – M Scott Peck
In my recent survey I conducted, I was surprised that when asked to choose some of the challenges in life and business, a lot of respondents checked self-care. Matter of fact, one respondent asked me the question, What IS self-care?” I was so taken aback because I thought everyone was clear on what that term meant.
Self-care is what I have struggled with for the last 15 plus years. Actually, all of my life, but I was so unconscious the first half of my life that I didn’t have a clue until my coach started asking me questions I couldn’t answer. For instance, when my coach asked me to stop and check in, I thought he meant the hotel, and I knew I wasn’t staying there. I used to live in fear that he would ask me how I was feeling or what was my mood. Why? Because I was like a wind-up doll. Wind me up, point me in the right direction, and I did what I was expected to do. On the outside everything seemed just peachy, but on the inside I was dying. I was burned out and there was a hole in my soul, like something was missing.
I know I talk a lot about building up your levels of self-confidence and self-esteem, learning to set boundaries, and saying ‘no’ to requests that rob you of not only your time but your integrity, but what does the art of self-care really encompass? Certainly self-care encompasses taking the best possible care of our personal health and living in the healthiest manner possible, but what about our ‘interior’ health? You know – the one we sometimes fear to look too closely at, namely our mental and spiritual well being? Anyone can pop a vitamin pill, but how do you change potential areas in your thinking (mindset) that are constantly sabotaging your business and life?
Hence the title of this article: Self-preservation does not equal self-care.
You can keep burying your problems (and your head) in the sand, all the while telling yourself that they don’t exist, but sooner or later I can guarantee you that those difficulties you’re struggling with are going to rear their ugly heads and bite you in the butt. Hiding out behind that nice girl, do as you’re told role in the hopes that no one will find out your secret will only last so long. Trust me. Trying to keep up that facade will catch up with you. So what happens when you finally get ‘found’ out like I did? All the little things that never bothered you before start getting to you. You start getting resigned and resentful. You may think you’re practicing self-preservation and doing fairly well at it. However, at some point you’re going to have to stop and take a look in the mirror at the person who is staring back at you. Otherwise, you will wind up living someone else’s life like I was, instead of the life you truly want deep down in your soul.
What I can tell you is that this phenomenon is not terminal. I am living proof of it. You can change if you are willing to do your work and get the support you need. You can stop settling and start living life on your terms.
Here are some of the steps that I used to reclaim the pieces of myself that I had given away in my life like my dignity, integrity, courage, and self-esteem.
1. Define what’s working and not working in your life. Make a list. You’re going to want to have a starting point from which to start living your most authentic life.
2. Define what your Core Values are. Core values are going to help you make better choices for yourself, and they will give you the foundation you need to make the changes you want in your life.
3. Make a list of the 3 changes you want to make in the next 90 days. Be realistic in your choices of changes. If you want to lose 40 pounds, don’t make it your goal to get there in 30 days or you’ll end up in the hospital from malnutrition.
4. Start small and build up to the biggies as your confidence grows. If your goal is to start saying No to others to regain your time, start off with little No.
5. Let go of what you are not willing to change at the present time. Don’t beat yourself up! There are lots of negative people out in the world that can do that for you without you having to be your own worst enemy.
6. Invest in yourself. I know that I would not be where I am today had I not gotten the coaching support I needed. You can do it on your own, but you don’t have to.
It all starts with self-care. It is the foundation that turns an ordinary life into an extraordinary life. And who among us wants to go through life merely existing instead of living a rich, juicy and passion-filled life? Not me.